In the wake of National League MVP Ryan Braun's recent failed drug test, it is important to shift focus from how bad steroids are for the game of baseball to how important it is that many of the game's all-time greats have had successful careers while being clean. Most notably, Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.,
While many may consider Jones and Braun complete opposites, let us take a moment to look at these two franchise players, one who is an almost guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Famer and the other, who was one his way to being in premature Hall of Fame discussions.
Braun, a four-time National League All-Star selection, turned 28 years old in November and was recently named as one of The Sporting News 50 Greatest Current Players. Since being drafted by the Brewers in 2007, Braun has twice led the NL in slugging percentage (as a rookie in 2007 and again in 2011) and once in hits (2009).
Through five major league seasons, the aptly nicknamed 'Hebrew Hammer' has compiled quite a resume at the plate. In 729 career games, he has recorded a .312 batting average with 898 career hits, including 161 home runs, 187 doubles and 531 runs batted in. Braun also boasts a career slugging percentage of .563, 506 runs scored and 96 stolen bases.
Although he played eight games in 2003, Jones did not play his first full MLB season until 1995. From 1995-1999, his first five years, the seven-time NL All-Star, had racked up three All-Star selections while becoming a key piece in the club's 1995 World Series title and claiming the first of two Silver Slugger awards in 1999 and also claiming the NL MVP title.
Through his first five years Jones played in 771 games with a batting average on .301 with 869 hits including 153 home runs, 153 doubles and 524 RBI. He also recorded 540 runs scored and 83 stolen bases.
Both Braun and Jones have become the face of their respective franchises and are continuously brought up when discussing some of baseball all-time greatest past and present players. The only downside now is to how much of the steroid issue plays into Braun's success as a player and if he will ever be able to live down this mistake.
For the game's sake, let's hope so.
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