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A year after having his contract bought out by his long-time team, the Milwaukee Brewers, outfielder Ryan Braun announced his retirement.
In his 14 years with Milwaukee, Braun finished his career with a .296 batting average, 1,963 hits, 352 home runs, 1,154 runs batted in and 216 stolen bases. These numbers helped him to six All-Star games, five Silver Slugger awards, a National League Rookie of the Year award and a National League Most Valuable Player award.
Braun also finished his career as one of the all-time greatest players for the Brewers. He finished his career with the most home runs in the team’s history. He was also second in doubles, extra base hits and RBI, as well as third in triples, hits, walks, stolen bases, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage.
With all of that, it should come as no surprise if Milwaukee eventually retires his No. 8. He’s finishes his career as one of the organization’s greatest players.
But what about his legacy and his chances to get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame?
Unfortunately, damage may have already been done to both, starting with a leaked confidential urine test, conducted in October 2011. Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. It was alleged that he had taken a performance-enhancing drug and faced a 50-game suspension.
After taking a second test, conducted by an independent laboratory, his results came back with normal testosterone levels. He would appeal his the drug-test and won, two votes to one. He became the first player to successfully challenge a drug-test result.
In the time since, it’s been questioned what happened to see the difference in results. The biggest has been around test collector Dino Laurenzi Jr.’s handling procedures. He claimed there were no FedEx open to ship the sample but Braun contested that there were at least five.
A couple years later, his reputation would further be challenged as his name appeared three times in records held by Biogenesis of America, a clinic that had been accused of distributing PEDs. He would fight for his innocence for months before accepting his suspension. Later that year, he would release an apology for using PEDs, as well as admit to using them in 2011 to help with a nagging injury.
While fans are sometimes more forgiving to players, writers have had mixed feelings when it comes to those suspected of steroid and PED use, never mind admitted users. While players like first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez who are suspected of usage have been voted in, others like pitcher Roger Clemens and outfielders Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds haven’t because of suspected use.
Along with not being inducted, their legacies are now forever tarnished because of association. Despite outstanding statistics and even a couple record holders (Bonds for most home runs in a season and a career for example), they’ll never be able to escape the mist that surrounds their name.
Sadly, because of Braun’s association and admitted guilt, he’ll more than likely not make the Hall of Fame, unless he’s voted in by the Veteran’s Committee. It’s a long shot but not impossible.
His legacy may escape with some scratches but ultimately shouldn’t be damaged beyond repair. Milwaukee should still be able to honor him but he may not receive recognition league wide. It’s sad but the second that a question arises about someone’s legacy, everything gets audited.
While he may not get that full recognition, he’ll go down as a contender for the greatest Milwaukee Brewer of all-time. To that, you can do nothing but tip your cap.