I like Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun a lot. Likable guy, great all-around player, Los Angeles native.
He had an MVP-caliber season for Milwaukee, and most seasons that would merit the award.
Trouble is, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers was a little better in 2011.
Braun took home the National League’s top prize yesterday, and I’m a little bummed about it. Kemp finished second. The only reason the voters voted the way they did was the fact that Milwaukee made the playoffs and the Dodgers did not.
That’s the way it goes, but it’s unfortunate. Nowhere in the rules for MVP voting does it state that the award must go to a player from a postseason team. That’s a myth that voters have created over the years, and it stinks.
Why aren’t pitchers held to that standard when it comes to Cy Young Award voting? Shoot, Phillies ace pitcher Steve Carlton was a unanimous choice in 1972 despite his team finishing with a 59-97 record. (Moreover, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the NL award this year after the Bums finished 82-79.)
Kemp and Braun had very similar numbers in 2011. Braun’s batting average and slugging percentage were slightly better, Kemp had more stolen bases, home runs and RBIs. Kemp also came extremely close to winning the Triple Crown, which hasn’t been done since 1967. Kemp also is a premier center fielder (two Gold Gloves), while Braun is slightly below average defensively in left field.
There were two decisive factors at play, however, and the MVP voters obviously forgot about them.
First, Braun had Prince Fielder batting behind him every game.
That resulted in Braun seeing many more fat pitches than Kemp, who had lightweights such as James Loney providing minimal protection.
Second, Braun played all of his home games in hitter-friendly Miller Park. The ball flies out of that place. Kemp, meanwhile, was forced to hit his towering blasts through the cool, moist air that rolls off the San Gabriel Mountains into Chavez Ravine. Barring some MAJOR climate changes, Dodger Stadium will always be a pitcher-friendly park. It is extremely difficult to hit home runs at the Ravine after sunset.
So I’ll always believe that Kemp got robbed in the 2011 MVP voting. There’s no shame in finishing second, of course, but Dodger fans were really hoping for a Cy Young-MVP sweep.