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:
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).
|162 Game Avg.||162||640||112||200||42||36||118||21||54||124||.312||.371||.563||.933|
|162 Game Avg.||162||589||96||173||29||6||26||94||30||51||152||.294||.350||.496||.846|
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?