I really don’t have to say any more, but I’m totally going to.
Ryan Braun already has made some impressive lists in both Brewers and Baseball history. This year alone he was in the top five of practically every statistical category, including leading the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. He also became the first 30/30 player for Milwaukee since the inaugural year of the franchise. He is a four-time all-star, a Rookie of the Year winner, and now he can add NL MVP to the list.
Braun beat out Dodgers Outfielder Matt Kemp with 20 first place votes, and a total of 388 points. Every voter placed him either first or second on their ballots. Matt Kemp received 10 first place votes for a very close second with 332 points. Prince Fielder also rounded out the top three with a single first place vote and a total of 229 points. It was the first time since 1982 that two Milwaukee players were in the top three of the MVP voting.
By the way, if you want some other names who won Rookie of the Year and an MVP award, you can look at names like Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Pete Rose and Frank Robinson. Pretty good company to keep.
Now we can continue the debate, if you’d like, over whether or not Braun SHOULD have won the NL MVP. No one would argue that Matt Kemp had a better statistical season in 2011, and truthfully no one should. We could argue semantics and Sabermetrics all you want on this one, but there’s one important point that stood out to both voters and every Brewer fan this year:
The Brewers would not have been the team they were this year were it not for Ryan Braun.
It’s as close to an absolute truth that you can get in this discussion. If you take Matt Kemp out of the Dodgers, the Dodgers are still way out of first place and nothing really changes. If you take Braun out of Milwaukee, I don’t think they win that division. Especially because his home run in September clinched the central for the Brew Crew, the first time such a feat occurred since the fabled years of the early ’80s.
Ryan Braun won the award this year not just because he was on a winning team, or because he was outstanding player on a winning team. Ryan Braun won because he was the difference maker on that team this year. When the Crew needed a big hit, Brauny was there. When they needed a clutch throw or a big catch, Brauny was there. He wasn’t the reason they won every one of the 96 wins they earned this season, but you can gaurantee they don’t win all those games without him.
We could go on all day gushing over Braun, but suffice it to say that he was, without a doubt, the Most Valuable Brewer this season. Every fan knew it, and the voters of the Baseball Writers of America proved it. He has a lot of time to keep climbing those historic lists, and add a couple more of those MVP trophies to his mantle. I for one am happy to say that he will be a Brewer for a very long time.