In an utterly devastating development for the Milwaukee Brewers, news has emerged Saturday night that Ryan Braun will face a 50 game suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Could we have seen this coming? Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player, entered training camp with about 15 pounds of extra muscle in his lower half. He posted by far his best offensive season to date, with a .332/.397/.597 batting line, 33 home runs, 109 runs scored, and 111 runs batted in. He showed exceptional power to all fields and looked to be a completely new player. These things can happen at age 27 without the assistance of steroids — there was very little suspicion of any foul play with Braun, already on the brink of superstardom, prior to this report. Now, any accomplishment by Braun, future or past, will be tainted.
Beyond just the impact on Braun, this will be a huge test for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers, who may have their status as contenders revoked with the loss of their star. Wins above replacement tells us that 50 games of Braun, even last season, may only add up to two-to-three wins, but given Braun’s importance to the team, it could easily be more. Even so, three games may be the difference in what looks to be an exceptionally tight NL Central race.
As more details come out, we will have more coverage.