On Tuesday, Ryan Braun became the 3rd Milwaukee Brewers player and first since 1989 to win an MVP Award. Braun received 20 of 32 first-place votes to edge out the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp and teammate Prince Fielder for one of baseball’s most prestigious awards.
I’m not always on par with what the MLB or corresponding baseball media does (e.g. All-Star Selections, Silver Slugger Winners and Gold Glove Awards), but this time around the Baseball Writers’ Association of America got it right.
There’s one underlying reason the award should of went to Braun and that reason is winning. With the help of a much-improved pitching staff (closer John Axford finished 17th in MVP voting), the 28 year old Braun helped the Brewers reach a franchise-best 96 wins en route to their first division title in nearly 30 years.
Meanwhile Matt Kemp was a superstar on a Dodgers team who won 82 games and didn’t come close to sniffing the playoffs.
The MVP Award is supposed to go to the “Most Valuable Player,” and in 2011’s case, they voted for exactly that. From a statistics point of view, I would have given the award to Kemp without a doubt. He nearly won the triple crown and was a significant better defender in the outfield (Gold Glove Winner).
And technically, yes, Kemp was valuable to his team in that they weren’t terrible, but finishing above .500 and missing out on the playoffs is not an achievement that should be associated with that classification. Every team sets a goal to make the playoffs and players on those teams who meet their goals should be considered for the annual award.
Braun had a career year while hitting .332 with 33 home-runs, 111 RBI, 109 runs and 33 stolen bases. Moreover, he led the league with a .597 slugging percentage and 77 extra-base hits. Fitting for Milwaukee that they have Braun locked up in a mega-million dollar contract through 2020.
Choosing Braun over Fielder was also the correct choice by voters when you consider how strong Braun finished the season in comparison to Fielder. Fielder received no disrespect on the MVP ballots while finishing third right behind Kemp.
While Braun speculated there’s still a chance for the big first-baseman’s future in Milwaukee, I can’t see a realistic solution to that dilemma. Fielder deserves to make Braun kind of money and will almost surely seek that kind of contract outside the state of Wisconsin.
In another novel Wisconsin sports factoid, Braun said Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was one of the first people to congratulate him on his MVP Award. Looking into the crystal ball, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Braun is doing the same thing for his good buddy in the near future.
Do you think the voters got it right with Braun’s MVP Award? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks