Blog Entry

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 3:57 pm

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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Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2011 2:09 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Ryan Braun vs. Matt Cain          6/15..2B, 3B,   3 RBI .400
Ryan Braun vs. Tim Lincecum    7/21..2B, 2HR, 7 RBI .333
seems to me  his numbers would be even better facing those 2 more often.

Haha. Maybe so. Or do you think there would be regression to the mean as the sample size increased?

What's funny/interesting is how when you look at the stats Braun did pretty well against the one of the best, if not the very best, pitching in the NL, the Giants, yet did terribly against the Rockies and the Red Sox, teams with mediocre pitching on a good day, when you look at averages. Maybe it's the Brewers who should move back to the AL instead of the Astros, so Braun can continue to feast on Yankees pitching. He did hit .700 against them this year, after all.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:39 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Excellent article Mr. Snyder. I wish you did have a say in the voting, and more like you. Kemp was the more valuable player than Braun, end of sentence.

Since: Oct 30, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:22 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

i agree as well.  kemp was the MVP.  maybe braun was the "team mvp".  and while we're discussing defining awards, i dont think a pitcher should be allowed to win the MVP award.  they have an award strictly for pitchers, named after a pitcher, cy young.  normally a batter the mvp award.  maybe they should re-name the award the "ty cobb award".  then you will have the cy young award and the ty cobb award.  then its 'cut and dry', the cy young award is for pitching and the ty cobb award is for batting.  as of now, the mvp award is meaningless to me; a joke

Since: Jan 7, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2011 12:19 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

The Most Valuable Player award is just that, the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER. Not the Best Player. This is where your argument goes off the rails. If the Dodgers lose Kemp duing the season, the Dodgers still don't make the playoffs. If the Brewers had lost Braun, they would NOT have made the playoffs.
How many at bats for Kemp were high pressure situation. I'm not talking about a game in June against San Diego, I'm talking about at bats in August and September where every at bat seems to mean so much more. Kemp is a great player, but all he had were statistics. While important, not the end all and be all of awards. Otherwise all you have to do is look at who had the best stats, and give that person the award.
The stats that Kemp was ahead of Braun in, were still close between the two. And the stats that everybody fails to mention are Slugging Percentage and OPS which Braun led the league. Another thing, I keep hearing that Kemp almost won the triple crown, and he did, but in the two catagories that he led the league, HR's and RBI's, Braun was right behind. It's not like Kemp lapped the field.  I seem to recall that Ted Williams won the triple crown one year, and didn't win the MVP award. It went to Joe DiMaggio. It's most valuable player, not best player.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: November 22, 2011 11:40 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

So every player in baseball handles pressure the same?  So why does A-Rod stink in the post-season?
A-Rod must have forgotten about the 15 games he played in the 2009 playoffs being "big games" then, because he went 19 for 51 (.365) with 6 HR, 18 RBI and 15 R.

Also, Braun and Kemp had very similar "close and late" stats and Kemp had several walk-off bombs. He got big hits. His teammates just weren't good enough to keep the Dodgers in contention.

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 10:06 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Ryan Braun vs. Matt Cain          6/15..2B, 3B,   3 RBI .400
Ryan Braun vs. Tim Lincecum    7/21..2B, 2HR, 7 RBI .333
seems to me  his numbers would be even better facing those 2 more often. 

Since: Jun 16, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 8:03 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Actually the Cy Young and MVP in the NL went exactly opposite of what I thought would happen. I thought Kershaw had no chance at hte Cy  because Kemp was a lock for the MVP, and there was no way that they were gonna give those two awards to two Dodgers with the crap team they had and the McCourt fiasco. I thought Halladay would get the Cy and Kemp the MVP, but what do I know, I thought the Cardinals would never win the World Series either.

Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:57 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

The fact that Kemp plays center field and won a gold glove no less is the tie breaker that makes this one an easy choice. Kemp should have won with Braun finishing 2nd. Oh well, they gave the MVP to  a pitcher in the AL so at least it wasn't that bad of a choice.  

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:54 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Everyone is acting like Kemp's numbers absolutely dwarfed Braun's, but they were extremely close.  Braun did have more extra base hits in less at-bats.  They both had great years, but 10 times out of 10 when players have similar years, the guy that performs well in big games under pressure should get the nod.
Show me where Kemp did not "perform well in a big game" last year...there again, you are penalizing Kemp because he team was not in the penant race, or givng a "bonus" to Braun , because of his teammates when looking at an individual award.  As for the numbers, yes if you look at them one by one they are close, but if you look at the number of catergories in which Braun is better than Kemp and vice versa then it is overwhelming imo.

Kemp led Braun in:  games, hits, HR, RBI, Runs scored, total bases, stolen bases, OBP, defensive putouts, assists and WAR

Braun led Kemp in: Avg, SLG% and OPS

Braun had a great year but Kemp's year, individually-not team results, was better in nearly every category and, as pointed out, where he was behind Braun, it was "extremely close".  Reasonable minds may disagree, but IMO, if the MVP is a individual award then where your team finishes should not matter and Kemp should have won.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:46 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Braun only had one error.  Meanwhile, statistical analysis rated Kemp as an "average" center fielder.  It seems his name carries more weight than his actual performance in the field.

And Kemp had far more "putouts" than Braun, along with more total chances in a tougher position to field.  Not to mention that Kemp had more assists (11 to 8) than did  Braun.

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