It has been three whole weeks since Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun made a plea of innocence in front of an independent arbitrator in New York City, and yet no decision has been made about the NL MVP’s status for the start of the 2012 regular season.
Braun, who tested positive for “insane” levels of synthetic testosterone around the beginning of the 2011 playoffs and is thus facing a 50-game suspension, could be kept waiting a bit longer.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the arbitrator tasked with making the decision in Braun’s PED case is not being held to the usual 25-day deadline. So the review of Braun’s appeal will go on as long as it has to, with no guarantee that things will be wrapped up by the opening of spring camp.
Pitchers and catchers report on February 18 and the Brewers’ first full-squad workout is on February 25.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.