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Braun busts out of slump in NL MVP-like fashion

Braun busts out of slump in NL MVP-like fashion

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Braun busts out of slump in NL MVP-like fashion
MILWAUKEE -- For Ryan Braun, it doesn't take much to break out of a bad stretch at the plate.

Braun came into the series against the Phillies batting .143 (6-for-42) in his previous 10 games, which led to manager Ron Roenicke giving his All-Star left fielder a day off on Wednesday. But after connecting on four home runs and registering six total hits in the past three games, Braun's slump -- although not that long ago -- feels to Roenicke like it was in the distant past.

"He's one of the elite guys, as we all know, so when he does things, it really doesn't surprise me," Roenicke said. "This is a special guy. I've been with a few of them in my career -- Mike Schmidt and Tony Gwynn and guys like that -- and they're just different guys. I struggled to stay in the big leagues and tried to hit and tried to watch everything I could on the great hitters, and there's just a difference. There's a huge window of difference between the really good ones and the guys that just are playing in the big leagues."

After driving in seven runs in the first 12 games of August, Braun had six RBIs in his last three contests heading into Sunday's action. He blasted a home run to right field on Saturday, but Roenicke was most impressed with a breaking pitch off the plate that he took the other way for a base hit.

Roenicke said the ability to hit bad pitches is something Braun shows often, and it's part of what makes him different than most hitters.

"You throw batting practice and you just go, 'My gosh, how do you hit balls like that?'" Roenicke said. "That's why I think he can go into these little funks for a while and then the next thing you know, two weeks later, he's right back up to where he was."

On the year, Braun's numbers are on par with his stats from his MVP season in 2011. He leads the National League with 33 home runs -- four off his career high -- and with a stolen base on Saturday, he locked up his third 20/20 season. His average is down from .329 at this time last season to .305 now, but he entered Sunday tied for the NL lead with 83 RBIs.

Although the Brewers' record and spot in the standings will play against him, could Braun once again find his name in the MVP discussion at season's end?

"Certainly he can," Roenicke said. "We'll see how he finishes out, but if he gets hot, if he has one of his months, he could put up some really stupid numbers. So yes, where he is right now, he'd definitely be in there."

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