Brains and BraunFriday, February 24th, 2012
I’m not sure we’ll ever know precisely what went down with Ryan Braun’s positive drug test. But here’s some statistical food for thought. Why do players take performance enhancers? To ENHANCE PERFORMANCE. Unless Braun has been juicing since arriving in Milwaukee, though, he seems to have been doing just fine on his own. 2007: NL Rookie of the Year. Led the league in slugging percentage. Even had one game that September where he jacked three homers in his first three at-bats. 2008: joined Albert Pujols as just the second player ever to have 30 or more HRs in his first two seasons (71). 2009: Top 5 in NL in runs, RBI, total bases and extra base hits. 2010: much of the same, third straight year earning Silver Slugger honors. Basically, since Braun’s donned a Brewers uniform, he’s been a power-hitting, RBI machine. AND he can hit lefties, which I’m not sure would be a by-product of drugs. AND he can steal a base or two. AND he’s a deft defender. So, again, unless he’s been doping since the get-go, WHY WOULD HE NEED PERFORMANCE ENHANCERS? I mean, isn’t having Prince Fielder hitting behind you a stat booster in and of itself? And if Braun has been cheating all this time and was only first caught during last year’s playoffs, something’s drastically wrong with MLB procedures.
I’m a “big picture” thinker. While I don’t know Braun personally, everyone I’ve spoken with who knows him or covers him senses he’s a high character guy. He’s no dummy, either. With the exception of one “B” in advanced-placement chemistry, he pulled straight A’s in high school. Despite being a blue chip baseball prospect, he chose to attend the University of Miami on an academic, not athletic, scholarship. And all that aside, while 2011 was a banner year for Braun in slugging percentage and OPS, there was no EXTRAORDINARILY ENHANCED PERFORMANCE from prior seasons.
All that aside, Part II: Why would MLB turn down Braun’s offer to take a DNA test? Curious.
Considering Braun’s dependable bat overall and his reputation as a clean-cut dude, I’m giving him a pass. Even though I don’t quite have all the answers.