NL MVP Results: A Rant on the BBWAA's Decision

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26: Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up on deck during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Yesterday, the BBWAA announced the winner of the National League MVP award, and the winner was Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. Braun had a terrific season, helping the Brewers make the playoffs. He was definitely one of the two candidates that were in the running for the award. 

But the BBWAA got this one wrong. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp had the better year and should have, in my opinion, won the NL MVP award.

I was going to write that they got the American League MVP vote wrong as well, but with that vote, they showed that they could break down the barriers that some have about voting for starting pitchers for the MVP award. We all know how important an ace starting pitcher is for any team in baseball, or even your fantasy team. The price on the free agent market for an ace starting pitcher is around $120 million over 5 years, just ask Cliff Lee. Or CC Sabathia. Or Clayton Kershaw in the very near future. So, voting Tigers ace Justin Verlander as the American League MVP, while different, showed us that the BBWAA was willing to push the envelope and vote for the right guy, and put old school thinking on the back burner.

The rest of my rant after the jump:

Last year, the BBWAA put old school thinking on the back burner when they chose Mariners Felix Hernandez as the American League Cy Young award winner, even though he did not have the most wins. The BBWAA looked beyond surface stats like wins and considered a starting pitcher on a last place team by voting for King Felix. Hernandez's 13 wins the lowest win total for a Cy Young award winner ever, as voters looked at his league leading ERA of 2.27, batting average against of .212, and 249 2/3 innings pitched, along with his complete dominance of the league, with little to no run support from him team, to award him the 2010 Cy Young award.

Heading into the NL MVP award announcement, I thought that the BBWAA would overlook the case against Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. That case was that he did not play for a winning team. Well, the Dodgers were 82-79 this season, but they did not make the playoffs. For some reason, these voters think the MVP has to play for a team that made the playoffs. Somehow they decided that Braun was the most valuable Brewer. The Brewers are a team that includes Prince Fielder, who is a top 5 first baseman in all of baseball who might be more valuable over the term of his next contract than Albert Pujols. The Brewers are a team that includes starting pitchers like former AL Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Yovani Gallardo and a closer named John Axford who tied for the NL lead in saves. And Braun was the most valuable Brewer somehow.

Meanwhile, Kemp played with the likes of one really good pitcher, NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw, and that's about it. Here is a look at the lineup the Dodgers ran out there on a daily basis:

C - Rod Barajas

1B - James Loney

2B - Juan Uribe/Aaron Miles

SS- Jamey Carroll/Dee Gordon

3B - Casey Blake/Juan Uribe

LF - Jerry Sands/Tony Gwynn Jr./Juan Rivera

CF - Matt Kemp

RF - Andre Ethier

Pretty pitiful lineup, no? And now the Brewers lineup:

C - Jonathan Lucroy

1B - Prince Fielder

2B - Rickie Weeks

SS - Yuniesky Betancourt

3B - Casey McGehee

LF - Ryan Braun

CF - Nyjer Morgan

RF - Corey Hart

I am not sure how Ryan Braun could be the Brewers most valuable player in that lineup, or that he stood that much above teammate Fielder. It is obvious that Kemp was the Dodgers most valuable player when you look at the talent Don Mattingley had in his clubhouse on a daily basis.

Some of the arguments against Clayton Kershaw in the NL Cy Young award voting this season was that he pitched in the NL West, the division with less than stellar lineups in San Diego and San Francisco. That, and he pitched in a pitcher park and in a division with two of the best pitchers parks in the National League in Petco Park and AT&T Park.

But for some reason, this argument did not work in Kemp's favor. He played 99 of his 162 games in those same pitchers parks. Here is how he hit in those pitchers parks this season:

Split GS AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip sOPS+
SFG-AT&T Pk 9 32 4 8 1 0 2 2 5 14 .250 .351 .344 .695 11 .444 119
SDP-PetCo Pk 9 37 7 15 3 1 5 5 2 5 .405 .436 .622 1.058 23 .452 227
LAD-Dodger Stad 81 295 57 97 15 19 63 25 37 75 .329 .401 .580 .981 171 .379 188
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2011.

Not too shabby. He hit .330, with 20 HRs, 70 RBI, 68 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases in 99 games hitting in three of the best pitchers parks in all of baseball.

The BBWAA ran this headline on their site yesterday announcing Braun's win: "2011 NL MVP, Ryan Braun Slugs His Way to Award". 

He barely beat out Kemp in BA, slugging percentage, OPS and extra base hits, while Kemp lead the NL in HRs, RBI, runs scored and he stole 40 bases. This from the BBWAA article announcing the NL MVP award:
Braun led the league in slugging (.597), on-base plus slugging (.994) and extra-base hits (77) and ranked second in batting average (.332) and runs (109), fourth in RBI (111), tied for sixth in home runs (33) and seventh in stolen bases (33). He hit .351 in 148 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who flirted with the Triple Crown all season, received 10 first-place votes and was the runner-up with 332 points. Kemp topped the NL in home runs (39) and runs batted in (126) and was third in the batting race at .324 behind New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (.337) and Braun. Kemp also led the NL in runs (115) and total bases (353).
I don't know about you, but that writeup seemed to prove my point that Kemp should have won the NL MVP award. 

Here are their 2011 stats to help you decide who should have won the NL MVP award:

Braun

Year G AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 150 563 109 187 38 33 111 33 58 93 .332 .397 .597 .994
5 Seasons 729 2879 506 898 187 161 531 96 242 560 .312 .371 .563 .933
162 Game Avg. 162 640 112 200 42 36 118 21 54 124 .312 .371 .563 .933
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2011.

Kemp

Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 161 602 115 195 33 4 39 126 40 74 159 .324 .399 .586 .986
6 Seasons 787 2862 464 840 140 28 128 457 144 250 740 .294 .350 .496 .846
162 Game Avg. 162 589 96 173 29 6 26 94 30 51 152 .294 .350 .496 .846
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2011.

Kemp had more black numbers, meaning he lead the league, than Braun, but did not win the MVP. After the announcement yesterday, Kemp was quoted saying he is shooting to go 50-50 next season. That's right. 50 home runs and 50 stolen bases. Quite lofty, but would that be enough?

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