Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the elephant in the room. If you'd ever wondered how quickly a person could go from "franchise player" to "sore subject," in 2013 Ryan Braun proved that it can happen in a single day.
Braun's saga had been ongoing for quite some time, of course, starting with the leaked report of his positive urine test in late 2011, dragging out through his much-belated appeal victory the following spring, then resurfacing again early this year when Braun was linked to BioGenesis. The final blow came on July 22, when MLB announced that Braun had been suspended for the remainder of the season and would not appeal.
The suspension ended what was already on pace to be the weakest season of Braun's career. A hand injury had forced him onto the DL for the first time and sapped his power, limiting him to a .243/.280/.329 batting line in his final 20 games. This is the first time in his career he finished a season batting below .300, and the first full season where he didn't make the NL All Star team or win a Silver Slugger Award. At the time of his suspension he was on pace for just 15 home runs.
It's hard to tell how fans will react to Braun when he rejoins the Brewers next spring. We're in uncharted territory here for a disgraced face of the franchise. Some, certainly, will never forgive him for his actions. Others already have. Somewhere in the middle there's a group of people waiting for more. Who knows when or if they'll get it.
Things will never be the same for Braun, a slugger whose flaws have suddenly become apparent. But, barring a shocking turn of events, Braun is the city of Milwaukee's flawed slugger and will be for quite some time.
It was a simpler time on April 21 as the Brewers and Cubs played a Sunday matinee at Miller Park. The Brewers managed just three hits in the game but one of them was this three-run blast from Ryan Braun, his fifth of the year:
The Brewers won the game 4-2, their seventh victory in a row, to improve to 9-8 on the season and close to within a game of first place in the NL Central.
2014 is the second-to-last year of the eight-year extension Braun signed in 2008. Following that deal, his 2011 extension kicks in for five more seasons with a mutual option for 2021. The remaining years on his contracts are paid out as follows:
- 2014: $10 million (a $1.5 million raise from 2013)
- 2015: $12 million
- 2016: $19 million
- 2017: $19 million
- 2018: $19 million
- 2019: $18 million
- 2020: $16 million
- 2021: $15 million mutual option, with a $4 million buyout if the Brewers decline.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
Honorable mentions: Marco Estrada