Alright guys – I thought I needed to check in on something that is gaining steam around the journalism world.
It’s the idea that Ryan Braun may – or may not – need a little help in his movement for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
I know it’s fun to debate about the award season in sports. It’s one of the only facets that the fans can’t be wrong about. For every person that does well – your guy’s better. No argument, case closed.
You can still believe that, and you wouldn’t be wrong. I’m just here to tell you to give it a break.
Ryan Braun has, by all accounts, had a stellar year for the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s hitting .317 on the year, with a .392 On-Base Percentage, a .602 Slugging Percentage, and a .993 OPS.
He has 40 home runs, with 108 RBI and will most likely eclipse 30 stolen bases once again in 2012 which will be the second consecutive year he has done so. All in all, not too shabby and definitely in the discussion for MVP of the National League.
Why is that not enough?
Here’s the thing: there’s no denying that Ryan Braun is having a fantastic year for Milwaukee, and there’s also no question that his off-season kerfuffle is going to cause him some kind of stir in the ranks of the voters. Take a deep breath, Brewers fans: that’s okay.
Because numbers don’t lie: Ryan Braun is one of the most productive players in the National League, whether any detractor wants to throw in an argument about PEDs or not. He’s going to be playing at this level for a little while now, and there need be no question about the level of his play. His numbers and your eyes will back it up.
But instead we have writers who feel the need to put up a defense on his behalf. Here’s one from Sporting News. And another from Tom Haudricourt, and CBS Sports, and Sports Illustrated to boot. Interesting phrasing abounds, some avoiding the parameters of the case entirely and some making excuses for their viewpoints (like I have done a few times) but either way it needs to be said that – for some reason – Ryan Braun does or does not deserve the award.
The thing about it is, the Most Valuable Player Award isn’t for the player as much as it about the writers who vote for it. It’s about being able to say ‘we like this guy a whole bunch’ – and patting themselves on the back the whole time. The fact that they have some sanctimonious reason to reject his obvious performance should be taken – at minimum – with a grain of salt.
Ryan Braun is playing above and beyond the levels of a lot of people in Major League Baseball right now. He was cleared to play by baseball. His numbers are backing up his ‘dirty’ year. So either he is using better, harder to detect steroids, or he is a supernatural baseball player. Both are, to their camps, equally plausible and the argument is never going to stop now.
But, if you look at his play, Ryan Braun doesn’t need your help. He’s doing a fine job of proving himself every day he steps onto the field. He might not end up as the National League’s MVP, but he’s probably yours. And that ought to be enough.