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I would love to vote for Matt Kemp. He had a great, great year. In fact, a better year than Ryan Braun. But you know what? I voted Braun anyway, because I watched the guy play, he carried the team, he improved in every facet of the game, and, you know what? I'll admit it - it's a homer pick. I'm a Brewers fan, and I'm voting for Braun. That's all there is to it. Am I wrong? Probably. Do I care? Not really.
It's an interesting question--Kemp's season is huge, but it took place a looong way from the pennant race. All things being equal, I would argue that a MVP-type season for a team in the race carries more weight than one for an also-ran; that said, if you want to argue that Kemp's season is of significantly higher quality than Braun's to override that caveat, I'd find it hard to argue that point.
Yeah, for a minute I thought you were doing a social experiment with your own orders, but then I saw it was random.
Stanton is my pick for MVP of moon shots. Just thought I'd throw that out there. Man that kid has some power.
Braun will probably win in the "best player from a contender" sense, since the "traditional" view seems to hold that you have to be on a winner to have value. I think most would agree that Kemp was the best player in the league though. He plays in a notorious pitcher's park with no protection in the lineup, where Braun gets Fielder. Braun drew 2 IBB to Fielder's 32 IBB, and Kemp had 24 IBB. Where the vote could be close, I think it's important to go deeper even if WAR suggests you don't have to. Braun had more chances to put up numbers because nobody wanted an extra base-runner for Fielder.
I think Kemp will win it though. He's had an overall better season and even outhit Pence since the trade. I just think Pence has had a bigger impact on the NL season than Kemp. Although, I do wonder where the Dodgers would be without Kemp.
Compared to whom? Braun? The Brewers were a runaway winner in the NL Central. If high-pressure situations defines the MVP, then we're left with a Brave or Cardinal...
I voted for Kemp but imagine that Braun will win it. I don't like the "V" in MVP. What defines "value"? Is it value to his team? Value to the league? How much more "valuable" is Kemp to the Dodgers than Braun is to the Brewers? How "valuable" is either of them to a Mets fan? In my own mind, I've changed it from MVP to MOP - Most Outstanding Player. And for 2011, Matt Kemp gets my vote.
Their numbers are so similar, plus dWar so I don't think Kemp being an average CF tips the scales. I absolutely think Braun is the most valuable on the brewers, I don't feel that way for Kemp (Kershaw). The brewers won their division and don't without Braun.
Kemp has very consitant H/A splits, but even though Braun's H split is vastly better, his A stats aren't too shabby either.
Braun had a fantastic 2nd half, Kemp was also great.
Also, Kemp had more PA with RISP so the fielder argument doesn't hold as much weight with me.
Bottom line, both deserving, but I think Braun is the MVP because the Brewers don't make the playoffs without him. I am absolutely OK with Kemp winning the Hank Aaron award which is for the best offensive player. But I just don't think Kemp's season was so much better for him to warrant the MVP.
Pujols really should be in the top 5 at the very least, because of the September he had carrying the Cardinals for the first 3 weeks. Plus, he still ended up with a great season by mere mortal standards. Maybe throw Allen Craig in there too...
I would disagree with the characterization of the Brewer season as a "runaway"; they didn't move into 1st for more than a day or two until late July, and didn't really have a cushion until mid-August--the lead wasn't safe until they'd played more than 100 games.
As far as the MVP as MOP, my counter-argument would be this: if Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp win the MVP awards, will there be parades in downtown Toronto and LA, like there will be in, say, Detroit or Milwaukee if they win the World Series. The traditional argument that an MVP should be from a contender has its merits--to get all Herm Edwards, you play the game to win, and I would argue that putting together a great season in the middle of a pennant race is inherently more valuable than one for an also-ran. There are seasons where a player on a non-contender has a season that is so much better than one from any of the contenders that it deserves MVP recognition, and there is a very strong argument that Kemp has had that kind of a season. Still, you play to win championships, and I think that has to be taken into account when you talk about the "valuable" part of the MVP.
For those who don't know since Braun doesn't play in the AL East and gets almost no coverage compared to the season he is having. He missed 12 games with a pulled calf muscle around the all-star break, you may remember him not playing in the AS game. Also remember WAR is a counting stat, and those games gave Kemp a little bump. I understand if you want to penalize Braun for missing time, but just so everyone knows he did.
Here are his projected stats before the injury:
.320/.402/.559 32 HR, 122 RBI, 38 SB.
After missing 12 games used for those projections he finished:
.332/.397/.597 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB
and he essentially shut down stealing bases for a month.
---Looking at the WAR breakdown
Braun (runs above average)
51 rbat, 4 rbase, 3 roe, 1 rdp, -1 r(def+pos), 17 rrep
Braun deserves the award hands down. He got the home run that clinched the divisional championship for Milwaukee. He also did well in most batting categories.
Even though Kemp had great statisitcs, his record wasn't enough to win get his team into post season. If there were an award for best player, he probably deserves it.
Since there is talk of Kershaw winning the Cy Young, it is hard for me to believe both kershaw and Kemp would win both awards for a team that was never even a contender. Ian Kennedy should win the Cy Young because he brought a last place team to post season in one year.
One of my biggest gripes in the awarding is that the press always gives the benefit of the doubt to the Dodgers and Yankees when it comes to individual awards in a close vote. That is a subject I could write on for hours, but won't at this time.
Another thing that is getting almost no coverage, Kemp joined Vlad Guerrero (2002) in the 39 HR/40 Sb club... very close to the 5th 40/40 player.
Kemp cam on strong the last few weeks and there about a week's worth of Kemp triple crown talk, but if Braun didn't miss those 12 games we might have been talking about Braun for the triple crown starting in August.
Adding to what @15 W.K. Kortas said.....we just saw two teams with huge leads completely collapse down the stretch. Just because the Brewers had a large lead starting in mid-August doesn't mean that their players could let up and that their games were no longer "pressure filled".
Whether it actually helps or hurts him I don't know, but Kemp seems to be a package deal with Kershaw. Without Kemp, we might be discussing Kershaw '11 vs. Carlton '72. Without Kershaw, the argument might be, "Should the MVP come from a last-place team?"
Here's a question. If you trade Kemp for Braun straight up, then where does the vote go?
One of my biggest gripes in the awarding is that the press always gives the benefit of the doubt to the Dodgers and Yankees when it comes to individual awards in a close vote. That is a subject I could write on for hours, but won't at this time.
Why, are you going to be busy polishing all of Derek Jeter's MVP awards?
Years ago, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were the best players in the NFL (and AFL) on their respective "side of the ball". I don't think their shitty teammates detracted from their "value" or achievements. Same goes for Kershaw and Kemp....
@ 11) Zuke
If the goal is to win a game, the game at hand, the game being played...then the pressure is equal for all players. Except guys like Kemp who have the pressure of carrying their shitty teammates. How many runs does Kemp knock in with Weeks/Hart and Morgan batting ahead of him and Prince Vegan behind him. Do you think Braun's stats would have been better than Kemp's if he played in LA this past year? Do you think Braun could "play" CF? Just asking
@ 20) Dave Z
The Dodgers finish 4th in the Pacific Coast League w/o Kemp
I'm surprised Kemp is getting as much love as he is in the "Who will actually win" poll. Outside of Keith Law, I haven't seen a major writer support his candidacy. In fact, I haven't even heard him mentioned. Part of that is because so much focus has been on Verlander's chances at the AL MVP. But I think people never even thought to consider him because he didn't do one thing you could point to and say, "SEE! MVP!" He didn't have some ridiculously hot month, his team never went on a long winning streak, and even though he was elite in the Triple Crown categories, he didn't really dominate any of those. He does everything very, very well (if not better). Unfortunately, those guys tend to do poorly in the MVP voting, unless there is already an appealing narrative around them (such as Pedroia, whose win had as much to do with being a short white guy playing for Boston as it did with his on-field contributions).
I'm surprised Kemp is getting as much love as he is in the "Who will actually win" poll. Outside of Keith Law, I haven't seen a major writer support his candidacy. In fact, I haven't even heard him mentioned.
I don't think that's true at all. During the All-Star game, Buck and McCarver were calling him the MVP, and I think he's continued to be named as a major candidate all along. I can't identify any specific writers who have picked him, but it seems like he, Upton, and Braun have been the main names thrown around over the past several weeks.
I don't buy the argument that you have to play for a contender to have value. The same argument would suggest that players from surefire division winners aren't as valuable. St. Louis barely made the playoffs, so if you take away any player (ex: Colby Rasmus) they probably wouldn't have made the playoffs. You could say that Colby Rasmus was more valuable to the Cardinals than Roy Halladay was to the Phillies.
A similar argument overvalues teams with more distinct stars. You could say that Kemp is more valuable because the Dodgers offense would be dismal without him but the Brewers offense would still be good without Braun. A good player makes the biggest impact on the worst team.
Braun put up almost the same numbers as Kemp and was theoretically in tougher situations, but Braun was also part of a better lineup. I'd vote for Kemp because if both were becoming free agents this year, I think you'd hear more of a fuss over him. Not to say that the guy with the biggest contract has to be the most valuable, but if lots of people with big checkbooks are willing to throw lots of money at a player, he's valuable!
Being a Giants fan it pains me to choose Matt Kemp, but I will.
Here is what Kemp has over Braun:
Kemp plays in a top 3 pitchers park(helping Kershaw, wink wink).
Kemp has zero protection in the lineup
Kemp plays a premium defensive position(CF)
Kemp has more RBI on a far worse hitting team
Kemp has more HR
Kemp has a 10 WAR....that's TEN!
Kemp almost won the TRIPLE CROWN.
Braun is a great player, no doubt. But having Prince Fielder hit behind him is a huge advantage, so is playing in the superb hitters park known as Miller Park.
"If the goal is to win a game, the game at hand, the game being played...then the pressure is equal for all players. Except guys like Kemp who have the pressure of carrying their shitty teammates."
i would argue the exact opposite. i think playing meaningful games (with or without shitty teammates) takes more of a toll on a player than months of meaningless games. of course, this can't be captured with statistics (as high/low leverage in-game situations are). unless there's an in-season leverage statistic that i don't know about (which is highly possible)
Kemp had an incredible season, particularly when you consider the lower level of offense. We got used to seeing big offensive numbers during the juiced era, but I try to look at Kemp's numbers with the mind I had for such things in the eighties (only more enlightened, I hope). To me, the MVP is the player who contributes the most value in the league, and it's independent of the use to which that value was put. So whether a guy contributed his value to a losing cause or a winning cause is not relevant, as far as I'm concerned.
I think Braun is more likely to win it, simply because he's on a playoff team. It wouldn't be a travesty if Braun won.
Gotta be Kemp. Braun's had a fantastic season, but Kemp leads in more categories. I also find it interesting that if somehow the Dodgers were good, this would be a lock for Kemp, but because they aren't playoff bound, a near Triple Crown winner is not automatic.
Kemp doesn't have a top 5 everyday player batting after him like Braun does. Fielder will be a top 5 MVP finisher, find me another Dodger position player that can say that. In fact, one could even say Fielder deserves top 3 credit.
Here's my ballot:
1.Kemp: numbers don't lie
2.Braun: deserves it but has a lot of help.
3.Upton: is in the Kemp discussion of only great player on team.
4.Fielder: 38HR, .299Avg, 120 RBI, .415OB, 556%...not bad protection for Braun
5.Berkman: literally carried the Cards when Pujols became human for 3 months
I don't care who anyone wants to support for MVP but I get REALLY annoyed when people start talking about "protection" and "lineup help". There are MYTHS. PERIOD!!! And it's hardly new information...Bill James showed it was a myth way back in 1985. And subsequent studies have confirmed his findings.
@27 - Peter Gammons has endorsed Kemp and Gammons is about as big an East Coast homer as there is.
I voted Kemp as who should win and Braun as who will win. Obviously they are both great and I would love to someday see Braun back home in LA playing next to Kemp.
You can argue the numbers to an infinite degree. I think Kemp comes up better strictly by the numbers, situation and style of play, but Braun is close.
The key to who wins MVP is not the stats, but the voters. They used to go pretty much by the raw numbers historically, then lately, they have tended to vote by best OPS on a playoff team (exception Rollins who had cachet as an all round player).
That being the case, Braun should be expected to win as having the highest OPS from a play off team.
Should the voters trend from raw numbers to OPS and then this year discover WAR and other advanced stats, maybe Kemp has a chance - also if the Brewer votes are split between Braun and Fielder
The MVP is an individual player award, not a team award. Voting for Braun over Kemp because he plays for a better team and thus they made the playoffs is ridiculous. Kemp could have hit .400 and clubbed 70 home runs and the Dodgers probably still would have missed the playoffs. Braun had a great season, and was slightly better offensively than Kemp, but Kemp's superior durability and much more valuable position make him the clear winner. I think that writers will recognize that, mainly due to the Triple Crown storyline (even if it fell short, they still love a HR and RBI leader).
Since BSK mentioned K-Law's vote for Kemp over Braun, I thought I'd post a Central piece of his rationale:
"Kemp put up roughly the same offensive numbers as Braun despite facing much tougher pitching than Braun did; four of the bottom six NL pitching staffs (by ERA) are in the NL Central."
I'm just putting the info out, not endorsing that exact reasoning. I note that Braun OPS'd over 1.050 combined against those 4 bad NLC staffs, while the Cards held him in check. At the same time, he crushed pretty nicely against a number of other teams, including SFG.
I have the feeling that if you switched Braun with Kemp that Kemp's numbers would actually go down. Just get a vibe from him that he needs to be the top dog and with Fielder there he would press to be THE GUY. Voted Braun deserves it, Kemp will win it.
One thing for Braun that I think counts for something is that he was more consistent over the season. He won player of the month in April and it was just released that he won September player of the month.
Braun OPS+ by month
Kemp OPS+ by month
Not by much but Braun had 1 non-MVP month and Kemp had 2
The argument that players on teams that don't make the playoffs can't possibly contribute as much to their teams and therefore be as valuable as players on playoff teams makes no sense. If Carlos Lee has a WAR of 25 the Astros still wouldn't have made the playoffs and Lee would have clearly been the best player. Also no offense meant to Pauley but if we get to the point where were deciding the MVP based on somebody's vibe we may need to take a step back and look at what we might be missing.
Kemp and Braun both deserve the MVP..i voted for Kemp, being in a worse lineup, to me anyway, works in Kemp;s favor concerning his value to his team. Who says the players "value" means they had to be on a pennant contender?
Players with multiple player of the month awards in one season:
Award was started in the NL in 1958, 1974 in the AL
1987 Eric Davis
1989 Will Clark
1998 McGwire (3)
2001 Bonds, Luis Gonzalez
2005 Andrew Jones
1985 Brett, Mattingly
1992 Puckett, Edgar Martinez
Looking at the stats, Kemp had the better year defensively. This is enough to give Kemp the edge. Defense should have more influence on the MVP than it does. If defense isn't properly considered, then we are really debating who should win the Hank Aaron Award.
I disagree with zuke #11 regarding playing in high pressure situations.
Most players will tell you it's easier to produce when you're playing meaningful games.
The energy in the clubhouse, dugout, stadium, etc. fuels your competitive juices
enabling you to focus more.
When your playing on a dead team, it's the opposite. I believe that.
If anything, it's probably harder to stay productive in Kemps scenario than Brauns.
Topper, where'd you get the player of the month info? And, as an aside to Sean (if he's reading) is there any way we could get that on this site? It seems like something neat to have, and it would be really useful when looking back at seasons past. For example, I've done a lot of fact-checking for a small publishing company, and I worked on some baseball books (I gave you credit for research, by the way - don't know if they credited baseball-reference in the actual books, though), and it would be great to say stuff about that.
Nifty concept; these polls who "will" win involves predicting the behavior of people who have shown no clear trend; they mostly underweight defence, and discount the seasons of people on .500 teams somewhat; but there is often a bandwagon effect; all the writers suddenly come out on one side of a very close debate. One instructive parallel is 1996 ; Bonds had a 10.8 WAR according to this site, Ken Caminiti had an excellent season for a division champ , and was the unanimous winner.
@75, Whenever someone wins an undeserving MVP they usually lead the league in Wins, RBI, or had a huge September for a playoff team. (as if the other months meant nothing to the team) Caminiti was player of the month in August and September for the Fathers when he went:
53 G, .359/.446/.797 23 HR, 61 RBI.
I think that Braun being named player of the month despite Kemp having a huge month has pretty much answered the what will happen pole.
@76, Didn't mean to imply Caminiti was undeserving; great season + playoff team outweighs "best player" in the voter's minds if the gap between the two players isn't too great (whatever that means, numerically) . There are a significant minority here who think MVP= best player ,period. Others think there's no way you can give the award to a player on a .500 team, no matter what he does; We're about 50/50 here; with nuanced views in between , was was surprising, at least to me , about 1996 is that Ken got all 28 first place votes, Maybe ,as you say, it was the sick September
By the way, in the AL thread posted today, I suggested a method for determining the MVP. I will reprint it here, and give the results.
I added up the following:
rWAR (for those who don't know, that's this site's WAR)
gWAR (Baseball Gauge WAR)
WARP (Baseball Prospectus WAR - the "P" stand for "Player")
In the NL, I can narrow it to 2 players. Here are their scores:
Kemp - 54.2
Braun - 48.9
I know above I said Braun (comment #2). I really, really hope he wins, as I'm a Brewers fan, and he's been my favorite player since he entered the league. I have no problem if Matt Kemp wins. He probably should win. But I think I would vote like a homer (hey - if a bunch of the BBWAA guys do it, why can't I?) and choose Braun. But it's probably Kemp.
As a sidenote, if one were to concentrate on rate stats rather than on counting stats, there's definitely a case for Braun. Offensive Win % and wOBA, for example, favor him over Kemp. However, as those don't include defense, Kemp probably makes up for it on the other side of the ball.
I think Kemp had the better year between Braun and Kemp, IMO. I'm no Brewers fan. But it somehow seems more fitting that the MVP come from a team that made the playoffs. Yes, I know it's not rational--it's just a feeling. Feelings are allowed in baseball, right? It's not like I'm crying.
And by the way, the player who perhaps seems to be most important to his team (which I will leave to the stat heads to explain why it's not really that way), is Pujols.
The Cards had a .533 WP first half and a .586 WP second half. And Pujols played lots better after the all star break, I think. The Cards made the playoffs despite the respective nose-dives of Holliday and Berkman.
Cy Young Awards should be easy to pick. Pitcher Triple Crown winners in both leagues (Verlander, Kershaw). Hardly heard anything about that. I wonder when the last time that happened was, although I could've just looked it up on Baseball Reference before I wrote this, but didn't.
After running some numbers and doing some studying, I've decided to vote for Kemp, narrowly over Braun. I do consider pennant race impact. I can't fault anyone who goes for Braun. I do think those two appear ahead of the other position players. I'm still not comfortable with how to compare them to pitchers.
Haven't finished my ballot yet, and still haven't looked at the AL. Not enough hours in the day.....
MVP and Cy Young from the third-place Dodgers. Interesting. They did finish above .500. Only complaint is with all these people that want to base their decisions entirely on WAR. That's a made-up stat, folks, base it on real stats.
"Value" in MVP is much too vague a criteria. It simply encourages any homer, bigot or otherwise biased person to invent value stats.Let's face it. Some prefer the the dubious value of "white guys". Others prefer black guy "value". Still others prefer Latino "value". My read of historical Cy Young winners suggest such bias was minimized by not encouraging personal bias. A similar read of historical MVP winners suggests that "value" is usually ascribed to the white guy. A perfect example is Cal Ripken's MVP selection in 1991 over Frank Thomas. Ripken's Baltimore finished 6th in a 7 team division (67 wins, 95 losses). Thomas had similar numvers for the 2nd place White Sox, but the value pretzel was twisted conveniently that year to reward the white contender. Same thing this year for Justin Verlander. He adds all the "value" to Detroit. Latino Jose Valverde (best reliever in baseball - 49 saves of 49 opportunities) adds little value to Detroit per value bigots. Miguel Cabrera (best BA in baseball, excellent year in HR,RBI,etc. ) likewise adds little value to Detroit
per value bigots. Both contributed in more winning games than Verlander.
So much for pretending value is anything but a permissiive, subjective term.
MLB should be ashamed.
The only real measure of "value" is runs scored (offense) and opponent putouts(defense). All runs and outs have the same value no matter how achieved. The most valuable player is the one who produced the most runs and the most opponent outs in the most games. I guarantee that if you field consistent leaders (read most valuable) at each position in those categories you will win the bulk of your games, pennants and WS.Any of definition of value is a pretext at best and a copout at worst..
My proof is simple. The definition of value will change only when MLB opts to have umpires and/or writers VOTE on runs, outs and errors based on the individual and team style points that so many posters count as "value"
Kemp's near-miss Triple Crown (.013 BA points short), near-miss 40/40 (1 homer short), and superior defense in a premium position EASILY surpasses Braun,Fielder, Pujols and Upton performances. (Never mind his WAR superiority). He clearly deserves the MVP for the most exciting Triple Crown chase in all of baseball since 1967. To suggest that is not meaningful or valuable is absurd. While it may not have value for the eventual WS champs, it had tremendous value for MLB and fans all across the country.
Verlander CLEARLY DOES NOT deserve two awards at the expense of Tiger teammates Jose Valverde and Miguel Cabrera. Valverde was credited with saves in 14 of Verlander's 24 wins. Where would Verlander be if Valverde hadn't been there to save his a** 14 times? If he was so dominant, why was he taken out in favor of Valverde? (Answer: Because Leyland believed Valverde was the lesser risk. Leyland was right all fourteen times). Valverde then saved 35 other games that Verlander DID NOT EVEN APPEAR in. Where would the Tigers be if Carbera hadn't produced offensively all year? Migue'd numbers: 161 games, 111 Runs, 197 hits, 30 HR , 105 RBI. .344 BA (MLB best) , 1.033 OPS (MLB 2nd best). Compare to Braun's numbers then tell me why Braun deserves MVP in NL, but Cabrera doesn't in AL.
Contending team bigots: Please explain Cal Ripken's MVP in 1991 on a 6th place Baltimore team. How valuable could he have been? Did he keep them out of 7th (last) place? I see how you can dismiss Kemp's performance. But please explain dismissing Fielder, Valverde and Cabrera whose numbers on same division winners match your selections I also understand that the stats for Berkman, Upton, and Howard are inferior, but why don't they rate as high or higher on your still undefined intrinsic value scale as Braun or Verlander? It seems you use or discard stats AND intrinsic when it is convenient.
East coast bigots: Please explain Jimmy Rollins MVP in 2007 over Cardinal's Matt Holiday. (Their numbers are not even close). Someone mentioned Dodger bias. Are they saying Fernandez' 1981 CY, Gibson's 1988 MVP or Hershiser's 1988 CY were biased selections? Are they kidding? All three performances were extraordinary AND the Dodgers won pennants, playoffs and World Series in both years. These were the ONLY Dodger awards in the last 30 years.
White guy bigots: How can you totally dismiss Valverde's 49 saves out of 49 opportunities in favor of teammate Verlander? Have you compared Valverde's stats to Eckersly's 1991 CY/MVP season? or Hernandez' 1984 CY/MVP season?
White guy bigots: How can you totally dismiss M. Cabrera's MLB best BA of .344 in favor of teammate Verlander? Have you compared his numbers to say, likely NL MVP Braun's numbers, or, for that matter, most of the previous AL/NL MVP winners over the last ten years? Only Barry Bonds' steroid era numbers clearly surpass Cabrera's.
As a Dodger fan, I watched Kemp very closely during the latter part of the season. Having gotten over his sub-par performance in the homerun derby, he was having an absolute blast enjoying his new-found celebrity, seemingly unaffected by the pressure of having to lead his team to a playoff berth.
Ask yourselves what separates the great athletes in any sport from other athletes with similar talent. The answer, of course, is the ability to perform under pressure (something Tiger Woods used to be good at . . .). As such, I feel that hitting a homerun or stealing a base when you're trying to get into the playoffs or establish home field advantage is more of an accomplishment than doing so if you’re playing for the Dodgers in 2011. So if winning the MVP award has anything to do with the value of one’s accomplishments, then - objectively - I'd have to give it to Braun.
As an additional point: If I had to choose one player over the other to have on my team at this stage in their careers, I’d choose Braun, who is a perennial MVP caliber player . . . whereas Kemp has only just emerged as a player of Braun’s mettle.