The steroid scandals that have marred the reputation of professional sports in the United States are not in short supply. Every season it seems a new scandal dominates the sports news. Major League baseball has been hit especially hard by these scandals, with numerous reputable players taking part. Even those not particularly fond of baseball are familiar with the Roger Clemens case that has been in the news for years. Last year, Major League Baseball was gripped with another scandal as the National League MVP, Ryan Braun, was accused of being one of these steroid users.
Braun rejected the claims immediately and an investigation ensued and it was quickly revealed that Braun’s urine specimen had been handled improperly. After these findings, the League decided to reverse the 50-game suspension they imposed and cleared him of all wrong doing. Regardless of the leagues findings, many fans still suspected Braun had cheated due to the technical nature of the ruling. It is interesting to note that Matt Kemp of the L.A. Dodgers and runner-up for National League MVP came to Braun’s aid after he was cleared.
Shedding the reputation as a “juicer” looked to be a daunting task for the season ahead, and Braun is still fighting to clear his own name. With so much on the line, Braun has been determined to prove the doubters wrong. When looking at what Braun has been able to do on the diamond, it is hard to root against him. So far this season after playing in 91 games, Braun has some impressive stats. He has been able to hit 28 home runs so far, and is on pace to hit over 40 home-runs which is something Braun has yet to do. Braun has also been able to drive in 69 runs and maintain a .318 batting average.
Braun was also able to deliver his 1000th hit on July 20th. He was able to reach 1000 hits faster than almost every Brewer in team history, accomplishing the feat in an astonishing 815 games. The only Brewer to do it faster was Cecil Cooper who took 789 games. In fact, Braun got to 1000 hits faster than the all-time hits leader Pete Rose.
While Braun has done some much on offense, the one blemish on his record this years is his error total on defense. If you do not include Braun’s first year with the Brewers in 2007 when he played out of position as a third baseman, Braun has almost doubled his error total for his career. From 2008 to 2011, Braun had only 6 total errors while playing left field. This year? Braun already has 5 errors. It is possible that lingering injuries this season have contributed to this increase in fielding errors.
Looking at all of the stats for Ryan Braun this season, it would appear he is still in MVP form. As stated, Braun’s defensive performance could use some improvement for this last part of the season, but his offense is right where it needs to be. Any lingering whispers of steroid use seem to be few and far between and rightfully so. When Alex Rodriguez returned after his suspension for steroid use, he was somewhat a disappointment. His bat was not quite what it used to be and the all-star that was once there no longer remained. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Braun and he has the homers to prove it.
Bill Shaikin “Ryan Braun still has the support of the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp” LATimes.com
ESPN “Ryan Braun Stats, News, Pictures, Bio, Videos” ESPN.com