YES, BRAUN hit.324 with 34 homers, 97 RBIs, 91 runs and 15 steals in just 113 games lastseason, his first in the big leagues. Yes, he was the National League Rookie ofthe Year and he was invited to a Victoria's Secret fashion show and to havedinner at the White House during the off-season It turns out, too, that hismother, Diane, is employed as an actual brewer. A perfect story, right? Alas,Diane's employer is Anheuser-Busch. "That's something that the fans atMiller Park wouldn't be too fond of," the 24-year-old Brewer confesses.
Then again, Brauncan be forgiven for just about anything these days in Milwaukee. After beingcalled up from Triple A in May, he simply mashed the bail, breaking MarkMcGwire's record for slugging percentage by a rookie (.643) along the way. In alineup in which the first five hitters last season were under 27, the additionof Braun made for the perfect brew. "I couldn't envision coming into a muchbetter situation," Braun says. "My teammates are young, all very close,and it was awesome to have people to talk to about the same things you weregoing through."
This spring Braunmoved from third, where he led the majors in errors (26) despite hisabbreviated season, to left-field. He admits that "everything about theswitch"—the routes, the sun, the wall—"has been hard because it's allso new." (Initially a shortstop at the University of Miami, he played theoutfield in just two games in high school.) After some early miscues, Braun,with some tutoring from new centerfielder Mike Cameron, has been "lookinglike a veteran," according to manager Ned Yost. Not that life as a rookiewas that bad, either.