Tag:National League Most Valuable Player
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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