During the buildup to the 2014 Major League Baseball regular season, there is plenty of rhapsodizing about the promise of a fresh start and the countless unknowns every MLB team faces. It takes 25 men to make up a full roster, but you’ll often find the lion’s share of payroll going to a few star players. With such a fortune comes great responsibility for baseball’s best.
During the 2013 campaign, all time greats who never doubted their ability to dominate baseball often found themselves adrift on the mound or at the plate. While one bad year can be chalked up to injury or bad luck, recurring disappointments point to a trend. Elite athletes can’t stomach that type of decline. Here are seven MLB stars who desperately need a bounce-back campaign in 2014.
1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun’s fall from grace was epic in so many ways. Following a failed performance-enhancing drug test after his 2011 season, Braun escaped punishment and declared his innocence, going so far to demonize the official who mishandled his test sample. Then it turned out Major League Baseball had even more proof Braun was doping in connection to the Biogenesis scandal. The disgraced slugger was forced to sit out the rest of the 2013 season as part of a 65-game suspension from baseball.
The bounceback campaign for Braun is crucial because he needs to prove that his skill and power are not dependent on his PED use. While nearly everyone agrees Braun’s talent is immense, putting aside the avalanche of negative publicity and outright venom from baseball fans won’t be easy. To top it off, Braun will likely be quite rusty after spending so much time away from the world’s best pitchers.