“It is with no measure of relief that I report Matt Kemp is your 2011 National League’s most valuable player. Kemp edged out the great Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder of the playoff-bound Milwaukee Brewers.“
That is what I wrote before this award was officially announced. It is what should appear in this post.
But it doesn’t. Ryan Braun won the National League MVP this season after posting great, great numbers across the board. .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs and stolen bases each. A great season. Whatever.
Ryan Braun finished with 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes, twice as many as second-place finisher Matt Kemp. Not-at-all-coincidentally, Braun’s teammate Prince Fielder finishes third in the voting though he netted but a single first-place vote.
Offensively, there isn’t much to choose between Braun and Kemp. A mere 8 points of wRC+ but the difference between a bad defensive left fielder and a bad defensive centerfielder has to be worth something, especially when the CF doesn’t miss a game all season long. And yet, it does not.
Justin Upton finished fourth in the voting, securing a first-place vote for his amazing season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Lance Berkman all did well for themselves, placing the top ten.
Very awesomely, Roy Halladay sits 9th with 52 points, ranking as high as third on one scribes ballot. Very, very interesting, this places him well above Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in terms of “value” but not “good pitcherism”, apparently. P.S. This.
The rest of the ballot is the usual mixed bag of insanity, with relievers like Craig Kimbrel and John Axford getting vote(s) plural while manbeast Mike Stanton received vote singular. Ian Kennedy received more votes than Cliff Lee while both Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran received downballot consideration.
Extra special mention goes to Ryan Howard, finishing in the top 10 of the MVP voting for the sixth straight year, despite posting by far the worst numbers of his career. Numbers that pale in comparison to teammate Shane Vicotorino, who finished well down from Howard in the final tally. That takes a certain…something. Jim Rice salutes you, Big Brown.