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Tag:NL MVP
Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:36 pm
 

Kemp, Rodgers come to Ryan Braun's defense



By Matt Snyder


By now, surely every baseball fan has heard about 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun getting nailed for failing a performance-enhancing drug test. The 50-game suspension is pending an appeal, but in the meantime seemingly everyone is weighing in with opinions on the matter. Braun very recently got public, vocal support from a pair of MVP candidates.

Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who finished second in the NL MVP voting to Braun, would have won the award if the BBWAA decided to revote. Still, Kemp is supporting his friend.

"Nobody's proven anything man ... we don't know anything." Kemp told TMZ.com. "That's a good dude. That's my homie."

Also, fellow Milwaukee-area fan favorite -- and frontrunner for NFL MVP -- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers voiced his support on ESPN Milwaukee radio (via Sports Radio Interviews).

Braun situation
"I was very surprised the news came out the way it did. You would think that there would be some sort of confidentiality surrounding the situation because he is appealing it. Other than that, I don’t really want to comment a whole lot on the allegations or whatnot. I would say I 100 percent support Ryan and believe in him and it’s not going to affect our friendship in the least. I’m 100 percent supporting him and behind him and believe in everything that he says.”

And then Rodgers brought out the big guns:

"I’ve known Ryan for a while now and we’ve spent a lot of time hanging out. I’ve been in the locker room and I’ve seen him working out and stuff. It’s just ridiculous the allegations. I think as much as he probably can’t say a whole lot right now just the fact that he was willing to take a test right after that and I don’t know exactly what all is out there but I just am trusting that my good friend has not been using anything illegal and I’m very confident that’s the case because I know how much he cares about the integrity of the game and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that.”

It's going to be a while before we know how Braun's appeal comes out, but he seems to be getting lots of support from people close to him. That didn't seem to happen with, say, Roger Clemens or Manny Ramirez. Is it because Braun's a nicer guy with more friends or because he actually is innocent? We can't say just yet.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote



By Matt Snyder


Thursday, the Baseball Writers Association of America revealed that Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun won the NL MVP. As with every vote, there was a sizeable amount of fan outrage on Twitter and our message boards from those who disagreed with the vote. Braun is a deserving winner and most certainly should have finished second, if not first. There's no reason for anger over the decision, so we're not taking that direction here. I respect the process and respect the voters who disagree with me, like my friend and colleague Danny Knobler. But if I had a vote, I would have gone Kemp first and Braun second.

First of all, the only reason Braun beat Kemp in the voting is because his team was better. That's it. If you ignore team performance, Kemp wins the award over Braun. Period. Braun even admitted as much.

"The reason I won is [Brewers management] put a better team around me," he said Tuesday.

My feeling is that the MVP is an individual award. Baseball is a team sport, yes, but the Brewers were rewarded with a postseason berth. They went to the NLCS while Kemp and his Dodgers were stuck at home in October. But if you look at the MVP, it's for the most valuable player in the league. The "value" argument to many boils down to how much a player helps his team win. OK, fine. Let's look.

Most Valuable Player
Contrary to seemingly popular belief, the Dodgers weren't "terrible" and didn't "suck." The Dodgers won 82 games in 2011. They were three games over .500 with two superstars -- Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw obviously being the other -- and a cast of marginal players. How many do you suppose they win without Kemp utterly carrying the offense?

Meanwhile, the Brewers had Prince Fielder -- who finished third in MVP voting -- in the lineup with Braun. They had one of the most dangerous offenses in the NL. They had a star closer and good starting pitching. Are we really going to penalize Kemp and give Braun an individual award based upon Braun having better teammates? That's out of whack, right?

The next argument for the "winning team" camp is that Braun's at-bats were tougher since he was playing in a pennant race. C'mon. These are professional athletes. Playing professional baseball is a very competitive job. If a player struggles, he risks losing his livelihood. Kemp just signed an eight-year, $160 million contract, so he's now set for life. What if he gave up and quit trying in September? No deal. Every single at-bat is money for pitchers and hitters alike. This isn't Little League where they can strikeout and go home and play video games while looking forward to football season. Plus, Kemp had a terrible lineup around him, so it was tougher to get good pitches to hit in the pitcher-friendly NL West.

To reiterate, I'm not trying to denigrate Braun whatsoever. He absolutely deserved strong consideration and I would have placed him second on my ballot, if I had one. There is no reason to believe this award will be tarnished or remembered in negative fashion moving forward, because Braun is a very worthy winner. I'm happy for him and the Brewers fans who just enjoyed the best season for the franchise since the move to the National League.

I just feel like "most valuable" should basically mean "best player." Put it this way and be honest: If you were a general manager, would you want the best player, period, or the best player from a playoff team? If you went in a time machine back to March and had the decision to build a team around Kemp or Braun for the 2011 season, who would you pick? Again, be honest with yourself.

That's why I would have voted for Kemp. He was the better player. Having worse teammates should not lose someone an individual award.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 8:24 pm
 

Ryan Braun wins NL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has won the National League Most Valuable Player award, garnering 20 of the 32 first-place votes. This marks the first time a Brewers player has ever won the NL MVP. Previous Brewers winners -- Robin Yount (1982, 1989) and Rollie Fingers (1981) -- came when the ballclub was a member of the American League.

Braun, 28, hit .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI, 109 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. He led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. He also helped lead his team to a 96-66 record, an NL Central championship and a trip to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history.

"This really is a dream," Braun said. "This is beyond my wildest dreams to be in this position at this point in my career."

Most Valuable Player
Braun beat out a pretty solid field of sluggers in the Senior Circuit, with Matt Kemp of the Dodgers finishing second.

Kemp's case was very strong, and this felt like a two-horse race for the entire month of September. Kemp challenged for the triple crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI). He led the NL with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, but finished third in batting average at a .324 clip. He also stole 40 bases, won a Gold Glove and led the NL in total bases.

"Matt's one of the best players in the game. No question about it. The season he had will go down as one of the greatest in Dodgers history," said Braun. "If he had won the MVP I certainly couldn't have argued with him winning. He had a phenomenal year."

Alas, the Dodgers weren't in contention all season, finishing third place in the NL West at 82-79. Ultimately, the difference in team performance seems to be what propelled Braun over Kemp.

"If you honestly assess both of our seasons individually I think his numbers are probably better than mine, and I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team," Braun said. "It's an individual award, but it's a result of being part of a special team, a special organization."

Here are the top 10 finishers, with voting points in parentheses:

1. Braun (388)
2. Kemp (332)
3. Prince Fielder (229)
4. Justin Upton (214)
5. Albert Pujols (166)
6. Joey Votto (135)
7. Lance Berkman (118)
8. Troy Tulowitzki (69)
9. Roy Halladay (52)
10. Ryan Howard (39)

The following players, in order of vote totals, also received votes: Jose Reyes, Clayton Kershaw, Shane Victorino, Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, John Axford, Michael Morse, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Ruiz, Mike Stanton.

It's worth noting that this was the 11th season Pujols has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting -- and he's only been in the league for 11 years. He's won MVP three times and finished in the top five 10 of those 11 years.

Kemp took home 10 first-place votes, with Fielder and Upton getting one each. Braun had the rest. Only Braun, Kemp and Fielder received second-place votes.

Braun is locked up with Milwaukee through the 2020 season, as he signed a five-year extension in April. The 2011 MVP award will join the 2007 Rookie of the Year in Braun's trophy case.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Choosing the NL Least Valuable Player



By Matt Snyder


With the announcement of the National League MVP coming Tuesday, we'll once again do the opposite and choose a least valuable player. Unlike the AL version of this "award," the candidates were not nearly as identifiable. I did narrow it down to five worthy contenders, so let's size 'em up.

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. The 24-year-old third baseman was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the Pirates lineup for years to come. And he still might prove to be one in the future, but he was awful in 2011. Alvarez hit .191/.272/.289 with just four homers in 262 plate appearances. He even earned a demotion to Triple-A. He struck out 80 times and grounded into 11 double plays in just 235 at-bats.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs. The 2006 first-round pick hit 20 home runs in 358 at-bats in 2010, but he was lost in 2011. Colvin hit .150/.204/.306 with six homers in 222 plate appearances. You can go after Mike Quade for not letting Colvin get regular playing time if you want, but how can you justify continuing to run a guy out there with a .204 on-base percentage?

Aubrey Huff, Giants. Believe it or not, Huff finished seventh in MVP voting in 2010. Man, that seems like ages ago. In 2011, the Giants had the worst offense in the National League, and Huff has to shoulder some of that blame. Huff's raw stats don't look near as bad as those of Alvarez, Colvin or a litany of others, but his .246/.306/.370 line damaged a legitimate playoff threat. If he had a similar season to 2010, the entire complexion of the lineup changes.

Derek Lowe, Braves. He made 34 starts and worked 187 innings, so that sounds like he had some value, at least in giving the Braves a healthy innings-eater. It's just that Lowe faltered when the Braves needed him the most. His overall season numbers -- 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP -- were bad enough, but Lowe was horrifying in September. He made five starts, going 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. This was during a historic collapse. And Lowe made $15 million in 2011.

Brandon Lyon, Astros. The closer set the tone for the Astros' abysmal 2011 season by blowing an opening-day save opportunity, allowing six hits and three runs to the Phillies. He would rack up as many blown saves as actual saves (four), which fit nicely with his 11.48 ERA and 2.40 WHIP. Still, Lyon only appeared in 15 games, due to injury, so he can't really win this one.

And the winner is ... Huff by a nose. Ultimately, I believe Huff's shortfall from his 2010 numbers was more responsible for costing the Giants the playoffs than Lowe's campaign. Since Lowe is a starting pitcher and only goes once every five days, I feel like the Braves still could have overcome his shortcomings. But the Giants' offense was pitiful all season, and if Huff hit the ball better, it would have been an immense boost. I'd definitely be on board with anyone wanting to pick Lowe, though. This was a two-horse race.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 1:06 am
 

Sizing up the NL MVP contenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Tonight: the NL MVP.

Lacking perhaps the sizzle or controversy of the American League MVP race, the National League MVP race could be just as interesting. While there's plenty of buzz in the AL about whether a pitcher should win the MVP, the NL question of the MVP status quo may be about a member of a losing team taking the game's top honor. While the contending teams have some worthy candidates, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, the Reds' Joey Votto and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen all have compelling arguments to be included even if their teams are well out of the race.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on many of ballots:

Ryan Braun, Brewers: Braun leads the league in batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.595), OPS (.999) and runs scored (96), he's also in the top five in RBI (95) and top ten in homers (27) -- and he's doing it for a team that will be headed to the playoffs. Last season Joey Votto beat Albert Pujols convincingly on the MVP ballots (31 first-place votes out of 32), if not so convincingly on the stat sheet. The two were close to even in their offensive stats, with Votto's team winning the division title perhaps giving him the edge in the very vague category of "value." The Brewers' record could be Braun's trump card on many ballots.

Roy Halladay, Phillies: Widely considered the best pitcher in the National League, if not baseball, Halladay is having another stellar season with a 16-5 record and a 2.49 ERA. However, the pitcher for MVP argument is being made with Justin Verlander, not Halladay. While Halladay may be the best pitcher in the National League and could appear near the bottom of several ballots (he does lead the NL in pitcher WAR, 6.2 according to Baseball-Reference.com), but it will take a clear-cut best pitcher in the league to win the MVP. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw is making a late push for Cy Young with a 17-5 record and 2.45 ERA) and Cliff Lee may be having the best season of any Phillies' starter.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Going into Tuesday night's game, Kemp was third in batting average (.320), tied for second in home runs (32) and third in RBI (106), giving him a shot at becoming the National League's first triple crown winner since Joe Medwick did it in 1937. The knock on Kemp will certainly be his team's 68-72 record and a season in Los Angeles much better remembered for the drama off the field than anything done on it.

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: At the All-Star break, this would have been a popular pick, but since then, the Pirates have faded and the star around Pittsburgh's center fielder has dimmed. But McCutchen is still having a fabulous year, cementing himself as one of the game's emerging stars. His stats have taken a dip, hitting .269/.372/.464 with 20 homers and 81 RBI to go along with 20 stolen bases. According to FanGraphs.com, he's seventh among position players in WAR, but much of his value comes from his defense. McCutchen won't win the MVP and won't finish in the top five, but he may get some votes based on his all-around game and the Pirates' impressive start.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: You can't talk National League MVP and not bring up Albert Pujols, can you? Not even this year -- when so many counted him out at the beginning of the year and others thought he'd miss a good chunk of time with a broken bone -- can you leave out the three-time winner. He's bounced back from an awful start to hit .295/.367/.553 and lead the league in homers (34). Pujols won't win, not just because he failed to live up to the expectations he's set for himself, but also because the Cardinals have faded in the seasons last months once again.

Jose Reyes, Mets: Reyes' reward will likely come after the November announcement of the MVP and be in the form of a huge contract. A front-runner for the award for much of the season, hamstring injuries have hampered the Mets' shortstop, limiting him to 105 games. He's fallen behind Braun in the batting title race, but is still putting up a very good .332/.371/.493 line with five homers, 37 RBI and 35 stolen bases. 

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: The Rockies have seriously underachieved, but not Tulowitzki, who is hitting .304/.376/.550 with 29 homers and 100 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. It seems like a matter of time before Tulowitzki wins an MVP (or two), but it won't be this year. Colorado's collapse was too great and while his offensive numbers are great, they aren't so much better than any other category that he's going to vault to the top of many ballots. He may be the best all-around player in the game (especially considering his position), but won't be the MVP.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: It looks like the Diamondbacks are going to run away with the NL West and their best (and perhaps only recognizable player) is Upton, the 24-year-old center fielder. Upton is hitting .296/.378/.540 with 27 homers, 82 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He's having a fantastic season and has a very bright future. That said, in what was the most important month of the season and one that saw Arizona take control of the NL West, Upton maybe his worst month of the season, hitting .260/.342/.481.

Shane Victorino, Phillies: Overshadowed by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and even Jayson Werth in previous years, Victorino has been outstanding in 2011. He's hitting .303/.380/.529 with 15 homers and 56 RBI, while scoring 84 runs. He's won three straight Gold Gloves in center field and has been a constant for the Phillies over the years. However, on a team built around its stud pitchers, a position player may get overlooked for MVP. He finished 18th in 2009, but look for a top 10 finish this season as respect grows for one of the game's most unsung stars.

Joey Votto, Reds: Last year's winner won't repeat, but he's again having another great season, hitting .316/.428/.536, leading the National League in on-base percentage and third in OPS. He's also doing it without Scott Rolen's protection behind him. Rolen has been injured much of the season, missing 76 of the team's 141 games and his play suffering in the 65 games he has played. That's allowed pitchers to pitch around Votto, who leads the National League in walks (100) and the majors in Win Probability Added (6.9). His numbers may not quite be where they were a year ago, but he's done nothing to suggest he's not the best first baseman in the league -- and that's some pretty heady competition.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but you can have your say in the comments. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com