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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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Comments

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Ummmmmm what? Braun's up for consideration for a gold glove in left field...good try though. Braun also missed 12 games due to injury and was affected by it in stolen bases, etc. for over a month.

Without Braun the Brewers don't make the playoffs. Without Kemp the Dodgers don't get to barely .500
Sorry Future-Fate, but the Gold Gloves for 2011 have already been awarded and Braun did not get one.  Everybody is "up for consideration" for a gold glove by the way.  Kemp is far and away the better defender and plays the most difficult position in the outfield.  Second, you're going to penalize Kemp for playing every game?  I kind of thought that was part of the goal for the best player -- actually stay healthy and stay on the field.  By your argument, I can point out that the Dodgers only played 161 games, 1 was cancelled cost Kemp a chance to raise his average, collect more hits, hr, rbi or steals etc.  It is not what you "could have done" but what you actually did.  As to who meant more to their team -- look at the "wins above replacement" calculations and you will see those favor Kemp as well.  Kemp outplayed Braun offensively (without the benefit of Fielder hitting behind him) and defensively.  As the MVP is an individual award, Kemp should have won imo --if they want to change the award to best player on the best team in the playoffs then they should come out and say so.  Even Braun admitted Kemp would have won if not for team records.

Your are right on one thing -- no Kemp and the Dodgers don't go 82-79 or 44-27 their last 71 games. Not even close.  Rivera, Loney, Ethier, Sands, Sellers et al weren't going to get it done offensively.  As for the Brewers, take Braun away and you still have Fielder anchoring a good lineup and are still at least competing for a playoff spot.



Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

The next argument for the "winning team" camp is that Braun's at-bats were tougher since he was playing in a pennant race.
Another reason this is a silly argument is because there was effectively no pennant race. The Brewers had an 8 1/2 game lead starting play on Sept 1. If there was anyone who had 'tough' at-bats it was Albert Pujols.

It would be interesting to know, given the discussion elsewhere about how playing in the NL West favors the pitchers, how much of an advantage there is to hitting in the NL Central, where there are maybe 2 starting pitchers overall that could compare with the top 2 starters on several other NL teams such as the Phillies, Dodgers and Giants. Kemp was lucky enough to not have to face Kershaw, but Braun spent half the season playing the weaklings in the Central Division. Imagine if he had to face Cain and Lincecum back-to-back several times a year, as did Kemp.



Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:56 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.



Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:55 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?  You can't tell me that when a guy comes to the plate late in a game with the season on the line that he doesn't feel pressure.  Braun thrived in that environment.  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. 




Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

especially when you figure in DEFENSE--part of being a "player" right, these guys are not DHs.  Kemp is a gold glove centerfielder, Braun is-at best-an average left fielder.  
Ummmmmm what? Braun's up for consideration for a gold glove in left field...good try though. Braun also missed 12 games due to injury and was affected by it in stolen bases, etc. for over a month.

Without Braun the Brewers don't make the playoffs. Without Kemp the Dodgers don't get to barely .500.

 



Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:52 pm
 

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

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.

Meanwhile, the Brewers had -- 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?
Amen to both, could not have said it better.  Kemp leads Braun in every statistical category except average by .008 and SLG% by .011, with no protection in the lineup in a pitcher's park while Braun hits in front of Fielder in a hitter's park and Braun is the best individual player in the NL?  Sorry, no.  Braun had a great year, but Kemp's year was better--especially when you figure in DEFENSE--part of being a "player" right, these guys are not DHs.  Kemp is a gold glove centerfielder, Braun is-at best-an average left fielder.  Another advantage Kemp.  Great, Great year by Braun but Kemp should have won the MVP.


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