On Tuesday afternoon Milwaukee Brewers‘ right fielder Ryan Braun had a game for the ages, as he hit three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 10-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The victory wasn’t an especially monumental one, but it did go a long way in showing that Braun is a great baseball player, regardless of whether or not he previously used performance-enhancing drugs.
This epic game ensures that Braun has gone 5-9 from the plate, hit three home runs, drove in seven runs, scored four runs, and stolen one base over his last two games. For the first time in the 2014 MLB, the star is looking genuinely happy and comfortable on the field — no small feat considering he sat out the final 65 games of 2013 as a result of a performance-enhancing drugs related suspension. Add in that this stretch just so happened to come after his first game off of the 2014 season, and it is hard not to think Braun has finally found his comfort zone.
No direct measurement can realistically show any correlation to this hot streak, but it is hard not to think that Braun was pressing as he went 1-16 from the plate during the first four games of the season, especially since he was showing the world that he can play without pharmaceutical help. These last two games have shown that performance-enhancing drugs may have helped out in recent seasons, but that baseball is about more than pure brawn (pun intended) and Braun is a great baseball player.
There will surely be a segment of baseball fans who are never truly convinced that Braun is anything more than a cheater, and they are certainly entitled to this opinion. But in a realistic world almost every person would admit that season averages of 40 doubles, 36 home runs, 116 RBI, and a .311/.373/.562 career slash line can not be compiled directly by cheating the system, and lying about it.
I am not here to state that Braun should win “Man of the Year” in 2014, but to simply concede that the guy is still an All-Star caliber player without the juice. And while anyone who isn’t a fan of the Brewers will boo Braun mercilessly no matter the skill he possesses, this three-run game will provide the first of many on the road to a 30 home run, 100 RBI season that will make fans in Milwaukee happy and perpetually anger Bud Selig.