Anyone but me old enough to remember the old TV show "To Tell the Truth?" If so, you'll remember how they revealed the real person for whom they were looking.
It's the same question we'll all be asking in a few weeks when the MLB season starts.
"Will the real Ryan Braun please stand up?"
|Photo by: Getty Images|
The question is, without performance enhancing drugs, can he even be a shadow of his former self? My guess is no, but I've been wrong before.
Braun has only admitted to using one year (2011), but a quick glance at his career numbers indicate one of two things; either the steroids had virtually no effect on his performance the one year he claims to have used (2011 - this is the scenario the Brewers hope is true), or he was using his entire career (in my opinion, the more likely scenario).
Here are Braun's year-by-year numbers:
2007 - .324 BA, 34 HR, 97 RBI, .634 SLG, 1.004 OPS
2008 - .285 BA, 37 HR, 106 RBI, .553 SLG, .888 OPS
2009 - .320 BA, 32 HR, 114 RBI, .551 SLG, .937 OPS
2010 - .304 BA, 25 HR, 103 RBI, .501 SLG, .866 OPS
2011 - .332 BA, 33 HR, 111 RBI, .597 SLG, .994 OPS (MVP season)
2012 - .319 BA, 41 HR, 112 RBI, .595 SLG, .987 OPS
2013 - .298 BA, 9 HR, 38 RBI, .498 SLG, .869 OPS (injured thumb + 65-game suspension)
Is it me, or are all those seasons (with the exception of the suspension year) eerily similar? Who knows? Maybe he is just that good. One thing is certain; this will be a very telling season.
With the scrutiny Braun will be under coming off the suspension, any drop-off from those consistent numbers he posted from 2007-2012 will be greatly magnified. If he only hits .280 with 23 homers and 80 runs batted in, slugs .450 with an OPS around .800, it will be very telling as to the extent of his juicing.
Either way, the Brewers and Braun will be under the microscope all season long. And in a division that boasted three playoff teams last year, excess pressure could be all it takes for both to implode.
Who needs game shows when you have this type of real-life intrigue?