At 2pm ET / 11am PT on Tuesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the winner of the 2011 NL MVP, and that winner is most likely going to be Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. We’ll all be quite upset about the fact that Matt Kemp didn’t win the award we all believe he deserves, arguing that it’s unfair to penalize Kemp for being surrounded by an inferior supporting cast while Braun had the luxury of playing with teammates like Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and John Axford, and we’ll gripe that the writers don’t quite understand what the term “valuable” means.
I’m here to say that’s okay.
No matter what happens, Kemp had an absolutely fantastic season, one of the best in Dodger history. Do we really need that to be validated by the writers, some of whom hardly still follow baseball and many of whom probably don’t stay up late enough to see past the third inning of most Dodger games? It’d be nice to see Kemp get the award, but we’ve long known how fantastically flawed this process is; if you need any further proof of that, look no further than the fact that Kemp and Andre Ethier won Gold Gloves this year, or that Justin Verlander won the AL MVP despite arguably not even being the best pitcher in his own league, or that Ian Kennedy and Michael Young each received absolutely indefensible first-place votes for NL Cy Young and AL MVP, respectively. (As Baseball America‘s Ben Badler cracked wise on Twitter, “Michael Young wasn’t even the Rangers’ most valuable Michael.”) We looked at this back on October 1 when I quoted several writers (granted, most of whom don’t have MVP votes) who acknowledged Kemp’s great year yet admitted they’d disqualify him because the Dodgers “weren’t in contention”. Feelings may have changed since then, yet remember that voting was done before the playoffs started, so this vote was locked in stone nearly two months ago.
It’d be nice if Kemp won the award, particularly to pair with Clayton Kershaw‘s Cy Young, but I don’t really need it to know that the Kemp we witnessed in 2011 was pure greatness. The writers will do what the writers will do, quite incorrectly in my opinion, and it’s hardly like Braun didn’t also have a fantastic season – no shame in losing to a player like that.
In any case, I’ve taken the liberty of preparing a cheat sheet for tomorrow’s results:
If Kemp wins the NL MVP, celebrate appropriately.
If he finishes second to Braun because writers believed Braun had a superior season, politely acknowledge that Braun also had a fantastic season and is a worthy winner.
If he finishes second to Braun and it becomes clear that the only reason this happened is because the Dodgers weren’t in the playoff hunt, sadly shake your head at the foolishness, yet don’t take it too seriously.
But if he finishes anywhere below second? Well, then, do what you must, and don’t expect me to talk you out of it.