Off the field, Ryan Braun has been a magnet for controversy the past year and a half. On the field, he has never performed better.

How does he do it? How does the Milwaukee Brewers' all-star leftfielder block out the increasing array of distractions created by links to the world of performance-enhancing drugs?

"The guys with the makeup that can put things aside are a special breed," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who has marveled at Braun's ability to insulate himself from the outside world when he steps between the white lines.

"I think he can overcome some things that mentally some other guys are not able to do. They are going to perform better because they can do that."

For his first five seasons in the major leagues, Braun carefully polished a squeaky clean image as one of the game's rising stars. He was one of the most popular players in the game, earning a starting spot on the National League all-star team four consecutive years in balloting by fans.

Then came the stunning news in December 2011 that Braun had tested positive for an extremely high level of testosterone just days after putting the wraps on an MVP season in which he batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 runs batted in, 109 runs scored and 30 stolen bases.

The Major League Baseball drug program is designed to be confidential, but the test result was leaked to the media and Braun's saga played out publicly, including his appeal of a pending 50-game suspension. Even when Braun's defense team had the test result overturned, he received little benefit of the doubt because MLB officials made it clear they believed he escaped merely through a chain-of-custody technicality, going as far as firing arbitrator Shyam Das for his ruling.