Opinion: Ryan Braun deserves our forgiveness and our vote

I’ve written about Ryan Braun a few times this season. About how the Brewers should value his veteran leadership and possibly not trade him and about how he is having a resurgent year after injuries and suspensions had hampered his past few seasons. And what a resurgent year it has been as he has produced a .322/.378/.533 and is also on pace for about 25 home runs. But the great hitting at the plate was not enough for Braun to get into the All-Star Game out right, as he is a part of the final fan vote in.

As it currently stands, Jonathan Lucroy, one of the best catchers in baseball, will be the lone representative of the Milwaukee Brewers at the All Star game at Petco Park Next Tuesday. Fans though, have the ability to vote in Braun as he is apart of the final vote in spot that fans decide. Currently, Braun is in dead last.

Braun shouldn’t even be in this position, though. He should have been voted in as a starter or picked as a reserve. Instead, the popularity contest was won by Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler. The reserve outfield spots were taken by Adam Duvall, Carlos Gonzalez, Odubel Herrera and Marcell Ozuna. Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those players are deserving of the spot they got on the All Star team. But not as deserving as Ryan Braun.

To put this in perspective, let’s look at the National League All Star center fielders. Bryce Harper’s slashline, .258/.402/.487. Yoenis Cespedes’ slashline, .299/.366/.581. Dexter Fowler’s slashline, .290/.398/.483. Braun is all around better than all three this year, as he also has more home runs and RBIs than Dexter Fowler.

“But Braun is not on a winning, contending team” or “Braun took steroids” are the common reason some will use to make logic out of Braun not being in the All-Star Game.

To the first point, the Brewers are a small market and are nine games under .500, but they are still doing much better than expected. Of their 46 loses, 12 have been one-run losses and five have been two-run losses. The Brewers have been a lot more competitive, and fans have taken note. So far in 2016, the Brewers are seventeenth in attendance as they’ve drawn in 28,092 per game at Miller Park. That rate is better than many contending teams this season: the Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians all have attendances lower than this.

So the “fans aren’t coming out” argument doesn’t really hold up. Braun’s past performance enhancing drug scandal is the only thing standing in his way then.

In 2013, Braun was punished for his use of PEDs by receiving a 65-game suspension. Prior to accepting the suspension, Braun had successfully appealed a possible 50 game suspension and adamantly denied any use of PEDs; because of this denial the 2013 suspension was 65 instead of 50.

He’s been punished for his “crime against baseball” and is continually punished as he is booed often at away games.

But Braun did not use the scandal to fade away into baseball irrelevance, instead he came back and showed he is an All Star level talent without the use of PEDs. Instead of becoming a huge waste of a contract for the Brewers organization, he has provided veteran leadership during the Brewers rebuild.

Fans had every right to be upset and angry during and in the wake of the PED scandal, but Braun came back a good teammate and great player. Braun deserves our vote and deserves our forgiveness. So make your vote count and get him into the All Star Game!

Photo courtesy of Gene Puskar, AP.

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