Ryan Braun got off easy.
Major League Baseball suspended the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder for the remainder of the 2013 season—which works out to be 65 games—for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, according to the league’s Twitter account:
BREAKING: Ryan Braun suspended without pay for remainder of 2013 season for violations of Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.— MLB (@MLB) July 22, 2013
Braun tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs back in December of 2011 and faced a 50-game suspension. The outfielder appealed the suspension, and an arbitrator eventually overturned it. Now, it turns out Braun was guilty of using banned substances, and this time he’s going to pay for it.
But a 65-game suspension is basically a slap on the wrist for Braun.
Think about the circumstances.
A thumb injury limited Braun to just 61 games this season. He battled the ailment but was still having a rough season, as his numbers were not as good as in recent years.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs
Now, Braun gets to rest his thumb for the next couple of months. He’ll then return to spring training completely healthy and ready to help the Brewers return to the postseason for the first time since 2011—assuming Milwaukee doesn’t make a miraculous second-half run in 2013.
That’s another thing to consider. The Brewers are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory this year. Through 98 games, Milwaukee only has 41 victories. The team would need to win around 75 percent of its remaining games to have a shot at making the postseason. That won’t happen.
If you take a look at the current standings, ESPN gives us the percentage chance of each team making the postseason this year. Milwaukee has the fourth-worst shot at playing meaningful baseball later in the year, per the site.
In other words, Braun is sitting out for the rest of the year when the rest of the year doesn’t even matter.
The only thing Braun will be losing this season is a few million dollars—around $3.4 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Braun earning $8.5M this season with Brewers. His suspension is without pay, and will cost him about $3.4M.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 22, 2013
That’s nothing to him.
Commissioner Bud Selig and the league could’ve tagged Braun with a much harsher suspension for his wrongdoings. It wouldn’t have been crazy to see the outfielder get banned from baseball for 100 games. In a sense, he is a second-time offender—he just got off last time due to a technicality.
But Braun will only miss 65 games of a pointless season.
Milwaukee benefits as well. It isn’t the organization’s fault that one of its players was suspended for his participation in the Biogenesis scandal, but the Brewers will definitely be worse without Braun in the lineup, and that means a better draft pick for next season.
How many games should Braun should be suspended for?
The only reason the 65-game suspension makes sense is because Braun isn’t going to appeal it. He’ll sit out the rest of 2013 and avoid taking his case to arbitration. That could’ve taken a few months and would have prolonged the entire process.
Braun and the league decided to make the best of a horrible situation. The league gets to watch the outfielder sit for an extended period of time for violating the rules, and the 2011 MVP doesn’t have to miss important time. But that doesn’t mean Braun didn’t deserve a longer suspension.
He did. He just didn’t get one.