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.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: November 26, 2011 3:35 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

I would have voted for Kemp on his numbers alone.He was,hands down, the best player in the NL,if not all of baseball.However now that he's been rewarded with an 8 year contract-He still has little or no proyecyion in the line-up-I think we have seen the best of Matt kemp.It's human nature;You don't pay your help 'til the job is done.It never ceases to amaze me how players play their heart out in a contract year & then just go through the motions once they signed a big contract.It turned Adrien Gonzakez into a single's & double's hitter after hitting Bpmbs in that huge SD ballpark.L.A.should have offered him an incentive laden 5 year contract.That would have made him a hot commodity at only 32 & he could have got another 3 or 4 year deal to the highest bidder.

As it is now Kemp is just another hitter on a bad team that can easily be pitched around.The Dodgers should have traded him to improve their team, but then again it would take more than 1 or 2 player's to fix this bad team that plays in a very competitive divison.Even though they finished over .500, it was only good enough for 4th place.Expect more of the same next season.

Since: Oct 26, 2009
Posted on: November 25, 2011 8:20 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

This could be a first.  An article on CBS that I agree with.  The end must be near.

Since: Nov 24, 2011
Posted on: November 24, 2011 11:37 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: November 23, 2011 4:56 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Woulda, Coulda, what you can to GET a vote then.
You mean by writing about the sport and covering the World Series in person? I am doing that. Even current BBWAA members only get to vote on one of the awards, not all of them.

- Matt

Since: Dec 24, 2008
Posted on: November 23, 2011 3:15 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Woulda, Coulda, what you can to GET a vote then.

Since: Oct 30, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2011 2:20 pm

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

@mlb_dot_cz, you said, "Hitters do have their own award, it is called Silver slugger".  are u kidding me?!  silver slugger awards are handed out for EACH POSITION.  there are 9 silver slugger awards handed out in each league!!!!!  they even hand out a silver slugger award to pitchers in the national league.  so no, like i said, hitters do not have their own yearly award

Since: Jul 22, 2008
Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:04 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

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.
True; happened in 1947. Williams actually lost by one vote, mainly because one writer completely left Williams off his ballot.

Some baseball writers thought Williams was arrogant and/or disliked him personally and refused to vote him first.

I think that these awards should be voted on by a panel of writers, current players, and retired players. The writers themselves shoudn't be the sole members of this particular jury.

Great article, by the way - couldn't agree more. Also, kudos to both Kemp and Braun for showing a lot of mutual respect and class. Refreshing to see in the "me" generation of professional sports.

Since: Mar 15, 2008
Posted on: November 23, 2011 6:48 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

Great article. The whole thing does seem backwards.

Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2011 4:02 am

Braun deserving, but Kemp would have had my vote

@APGP: Hitters do have their own award, it is called Silver slugger. MVP is just fine as it is now. Verlander was far more valuable to Tigers than Braun to Brewers.

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: November 23, 2011 2:31 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.
You positive? The Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the entire season and still made it. You sure that they would have lost 7 or more games without Braun? Which ones?

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.
Yes, all Kemp had on his side was statistics. Nothing more than facts, and facts are irrelevant to someone who has a prejudice that they are unwilling to let go of when confronted with facts. But to answer your question with an equally valid question, how many at-bats did Braun have in high pressure situations? The Brewers had pretty much clinched a playoff spot by September 1. You seem to assume that Braun was doing something extraordinary when in fact he was doing just as much in September as Kemp and vice versa.
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.
As I replied to you elsewhere, Kemp was much closer to Braun in those stats (slugging and OPS) where Braun led the league than was Braun was to Kemp where Kemp led the league. If you were to add Kemp's advantage in stolen bases to his OPS Braun's lead would be wiped out.

If you recall DiMaggio winning the MVP in Ted Williams' Triple Crown year, then you've seen a lot of baseball; you also must recall that the sportswriters hated Williams (the feeling was mutual) and DiMaggio was an American Idol. Williams not only won the Triple Crown that year (1947), but had an OPS over 200 points higher than DiMaggio. This is a perfect example of sports writers get little respect from fans. Based on your citing this example, I'm sure you won't complain next year when Nyjer Morgan wins the MVP even if Braun has a better year than he did this year.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or