There is a hint of anticipation on any day at the ballpark when he comes out of the dugout and onto the on-deck circle and begins his familiar routine to get ready to take his turn at bat. With the weighted led ring up the barrel of his bat, he swings it back and forth to loosen up the muscles that have been at rest as he has. Grabbing the barrel of the bat, the Sam Bat RB8, and tapping the end of it against the rubber on-deck circle mat freeing the weighed ring, he glides to the plate, ready to take on all comers. Stepping back from the box with his right foot while adjusting, and then readjusting, his batting gloves, he finally steps into the batters box with his right hand raised up indicating to the umpire that he is still getting ready and then grabs his bat, while digging in his right foot deep against the back line of the box, swinging his 35″ maple bat slowly back and forth, like a golfer would in preparing for his tee shot. He is ready for the surprise that is about to come. He stands deep in the batter’s box with a bat larger than most use. With all of this, he appears remarkably similar to one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, Joe DiMaggio.
Since the first days he entered the league in 2007, Ryan Braun has done everything with great consistency, much like The Yankee Clipper of old. This past Saturday morning, following a long rain delay, at sometime after 1AM along the Mississippi River, Braun hit his 38th home run of the season to give the resurging Brewers a victory over their arch rivals, St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium. This season, he has carried the team on his back after winning the National League MVP the year previous.
To compare a current player with a legend of the past is nearly impossible. However, here are some fascinating statistics that push the case that Braun is today’s version of the great DiMaggio. In DiMaggio’s case we use his records from 1936-1941, his great pre-war years. For Braun we use his records from May 2007-September 7, 2012.
DiMaggio was 6’2″ 193 lbs. Braun is 6’1″ 200 lbs.
In games played during their first six seasons, DiMaggio played in 825 games; Braun 859.
In home runs during their first six seasons, DiMaggio hit 198 while Braun has hit 199.
In doubles during their first six seasons, DiMaggio hit 214 while Braun has hit 216.
In hits during their first six seasons, DiMaggio hit 1163 while Braun has hit 1056.
Only in RBIs, where DiMaggio drove in 816 vs Braun’s 631 is there a big difference.
In fielding, DiMaggio had 70 errors in his first six seasons while Braun had 38 errors, 26 of which occurred during his rookie season when he played 3B.
Both batted right-handed. Both primarily played the outfield position.
DiMaggio led his league in home runs only once (1937 with 46) during his first five seasons. Braun is leading his league in home runs this season with 38 at present. DiMaggio won the MVP twice during this span in 1939 & 1941. Braun was named MVP once (2011).
If you never saw, Joe DiMaggio play in person, and many of us never did, the reflection of that past is in evidence when one looks at Ryan Braun. As Joe D was in his day, Ryan B is one of the top players in the game today. Both could run like the wind. Both had great throwing arms. Both could hit with consistency and power.
Yankee Clipper, meet The Brewer Clipper.