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Braun's blasts net him career No. 200, 40th in '12

Braun's blasts net him career No. 200, 40th in '12

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Braun's blasts net him career No. 200, 40th in '12
MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun was asked Sunday morning about his prospect to repeat as National League MVP, and he brushed the topic away.

"We have so many things going on here that are fun and exciting, so I've never been really focused on individual accolades," Braun said. "Those things are the result of team success, anyway."

A few hours later, he enjoyed both.

The individual accolades came from Braun's fourth-inning home run, which made him the sixth player in Brewers history to hit 200 home runs, and another in the sixth that gave Braun the Brewers' seventh 40-homer season.

The team success was a 3-0 win over the Mets in front of 38,677 fans at Miller Park, who watched the Brewers keep pace in the National League Wild Card race.

"Individual accomplishments are always more enjoyable in the context of a team win, and a meaningful win," Braun said. "We're in a position where every game is of the utmost importance, so it's easier to enjoy it when it comes on a day like this."

Braun reached 200 home runs in his 867th game, faster than all but five active players in the Majors. Ryan Howard got there in his 658th game, followed by Albert Pujols (788), Adam Dunn (822) and Alex Rodriguez (826).

When Braun went deep again off Mets starter Chris Young in the sixth inning, he tied Cecil Cooper for fifth on the Brewers' all-time leaderboard with 201 home runs. Hall of Famer Robin Yount set the club record by hitting 251 home runs over his 20 seasons with the team.

That blast was Braun's NL-best 40th home run this season. Only four other Brewers have reached that plateau -- Prince Fielder and Richie Sexson twice apiece during the 2000s, Gorman Thomas in 1979 and Ben Oglivie in 1980.

"He's the best player I've ever played with," said Braun's middle-of-the-order partner, Aramis Ramirez. "It's not because of the homers. He does everything. He steals a base when you need to, plays good defense and stays healthy. He plays every single game."

Braun actually entered Sunday in something of a home run drought, with only two in the first 14 games in September and none in his last seven games. He has been dealing with a right wrist injury that sapped some power.

"I think the wrist is feeling better, and hopefully with the off-day [Monday] we can get rid of that or at least keep getting it a lot better," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

If Braun can stay hot, and the Brewers can stay close in the Wild Card race, it could make for an intriguing NL MVP vote.

Braun has the numbers to be in the discussion. He leads the NL in home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS, and with his 102nd and 103nd RBIs he leapfrogged San Diego's Chase Headley for the lead in that category, too.

Braun's 95 runs scored trail only Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen. Braun's .312 batting average put him in the league's Top 5.

He also led the league in offseason drama, entering this season having waged, successfully, an appeal of a 50-game suspension under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The MVP vote, conducted after the end of the regular season, will be the first opportunity for members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America to weigh in with their perception of Braun since that decision.

Braun insists he is not keeping an eye on other potential contenders, including McCutchen, San Francisco's Buster Posey, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce, Washington's Adam LaRoche and St. Louis' Matt Holliday, among others.

"We'll see," Braun said. "It's just like everything else -- we'll play it out. But if I'm even in the conversation, it means I've done pretty well and the team's done pretty well, so that's always a good thing."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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