Ryan Braun’s slim chances of repeating as NL MVP are still alive after he was named as a finalist for the award today. He joins Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Andrew McCutchen, and Chase Headley in the race for the trophy.
Obviously the odds are stacked against Braun, but there is a very strong case that he should win again. Last season, both Braun and Matt Kemp had similar numbers. Kemp had more HRs, RBI, and stolen bases while Braun had a higher batting average, slugging percentage, and more extra base hits. You could argue either way who had the “better” of their two excellent seasons, but looking at where the two finished in relation to the rest of the league in most offensive categories, the award maybe should have gone to Kemp. Most people think that Braun got the nod because the Brewers were a division winner, while the Dodgers failed to truly make a run at the playoffs. Braun had more “value” to a winning time, because most teams measure success in wins and the MVP trophy isn’t historically given to the “best” player all the time.
This season, I would argue that Braun has the best offensive numbers once again. He was the only guy to finish in the top 3 in hits, runs, RBI, HR, average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. Throw in the fact that he finished in the top 10 in stolen bases and it is easy to see what kind of special season that Braun had. BUT, the Brewers didn’t make the playoffs. Does Ryan Braun even deserve the MVP?
In 2011, Matt Kemp was the only guy to finish in the top 3 of all of the categories I mentioned (except on-base percentage where he was 4th) and he tied for the league lead in stolen bases while Braun finished relatively close to Kemp in all of the categories, but some he just out of the top 5. In 2012, while Posey probably comes the closest to having the all-around year of Ryan Braun, even he is sorely lagging behind in a few statistical categories. Take these numbers into consideration:
Ryan Braun finished in the Top 3 in: Hits, Runs, RBI, HR, Avg, OBP, SLG.
No one else in the NL finished in the Top 10 of all those categories.
It would be considered a huge upset if Braun were to win, but it shouldn’t be. In fact, it should be looked at as a mild upset if anyone else wins the MVP.
All that said, I think Buster Posey will win the 2012 NL MVP. Ryan Braun should be 2nd, but I could see the writers not voting for him out of spite. If he finishes any worse than 3rd they need to seriously reexamine the way that these awards are voted on.