Ryan Braun got robbed of a Gold Glove earlier this month, but could that also have cost him the MVP? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Posey Beats Out Braun for MVP

First off, I want to congratulate Buster Posey on winning the 2012 NL MVP Award. Posey had one heck of a 2012 and coming back from that devastating ankle injury he suffered in May 2011 was not easy, especially for a catcher. While I have no real problem with Posey winning, I still want to make a case for Ryan Braun. Some people say Braun got cheated out of it, others say Braun had no room to even be in the race. My personal take is that while I’m happy for Posey, I don’t believe he should have won by the landslide margin that he did. Now that it’s all over, we can take a closer look at both players’ 2012 stats and try and see exactly what the baseball writers saw. 

Buster Posey has now added an MVP trophy to his list of accomplishments. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Whether it’s a matter of how much you mean to your team or how much your presence scares the rest of the MLB, both Posey and Braun demonstrated that in 2012. Here’s a comparison of both players’ offensive numbers:

  • Posey: 149 games, .336/.408/.549 slash line, 24 HRs, 103 RBIs, 78 runs scored
  • Braun: 154 games, .319/.391/.595 slash line, 41 HRs, 112 RBIs, 30 stolen bases, 108 runs scored

As you can tell, both men had tremendous success this season, but it’s not really clear as to how Posey had such a commanding lead in the vote. Aside from slight edges on Braun in batting average and on-base percentage, Braun handled Posey pretty easily.

Perhaps one thing that may have gone in Posey’s favor is that he didn’t strike out too much. Posey struck out 96 times this season and walked 69 times whereas Braun struck out 128 times and only walked 63 times. I’m not too sure how those numbers fit into the race at all, but maybe it was the edge Posey needed.

Defensively let’s compare both of them.

Posey: 973 innings, 114 games, 8 errors, 69 assists, 9 double plays, .991 fielding percentage,

Braun: 1318 innings (151 games), 6 errors, 6 assists, 1 double play, .979 fielding percentage

Now while this may seem obvious that Posey had the advantage, he did, but only because of more total chances to make a play. Since Posey is not only in the infield, but a catcher, he has more chances. In 2012, Posey had 932 total chances to make an out. Braun only had 288 total chances. Defensively, Posey wasn’t even the best at his position as the other MVP candidate in Yadier Molina had a better year behind the plate.

If you want to bring up the fact that Posey played first, you’re not going to have an argument. Posey didn’t do a bad job at first, but it’s a bit of a one-sided affair if you pit those numbers against Braun in the outfield.

As it stands, Posey got 27 first place votes whereas Braun only got three. This was speculated to be a much closer race, especially mixing in Molina and Andrew McCutchen, but how it became such a landslide I have no idea. Much like the AL MVP that shocked a lot of fans, the NL MVP may have done the same thing. I’m not bitter or mad that Posey won. I’m happy for him and I think he definitely played extremely well this season. However, I don’t think he played better than Braun and I’m a bit surprised that the baseball writers couldn’t see that. Well, there’s always next year and once again, congratulations to Posey.

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Tags: Buster Posey Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun

  • thirteenthirteen

    Not to imply that Braun didn’t have a great year (he did), but you’ve completely ignored park factors. Posey plays in one of the most extreme pitchers parks in the majors. Are you aware of the effect of having a large cold body of water directly adjacent to a ballpark? It is not a positive one for hitters, that’s pretty clear. Take a look at their adjusted stats – Posey’s OPS+ is quite a bit higher than Braun’s.

    Posey hit 17 of his 24 home runs on the road – but his batting average at home was 14 points higher. On the road, he goes for power, and at home where it won’t work, he hits for average. Seriously, it’s pretty amazing that he can adjust like that.

    That’s without getting into other metrics.

    • http://www.facebook.com/william.gregory.507 William Gregory

      Park factor is overrated. It assumes, in this comparison, that Ryan Braun’s numbers were augmented by playing at Miller park, and by extension, that he would suffer playing at AT&T. While Posey’s power numbers should improve (which is speculation, but pretty safe to say), based on Braun’s history at AT&T, Ryan Braun’s home run total would not diminish.

      Buster Posey had 245 at bats at home this season, and had 7 HR. That’s one every 35 at bats.

      In 66 career at bats, Ryan Braun has 6 HR. That’s one every 11 at bats. Sure, it’s a relatively small sample size, but look at it this way. Buster Posey, in the season which people are saying is one of the best ever for a catcher, his MVP season, only managed to hit one more home run than Ryan Braun has in his career at AT&T, but it took him 179 more at bats to get it.

      When you look at the splits, Posey does have a slight edge in OPS. And both players hit 17 home runs on the road. But Posey did not have a 3 home run game at Petco in San Diego. He didn’t hit two out at Target Field in Minneapolis. He didn’t have that signature road power performance.

      Let us also remember that while many San Francisco fans are quick to attack Braun for “being on roids” (though it has been shown that the suspension he faced was for a banned substance, not a PED), they are quick to ignore the impact that Melky Cabrera’s hitting .346 for nearly 500 at bats directly in front of Buster Posey had on Posey’s RBI total. Though he was banned for PED, Cabrera did have the highest average in the game. Who was batting in front of Braun for most of the season? Rickie Weeks, who struggled all season, and saw his batting average remain below .200 until after the All Star Break. Additionally, the narrative of “The Giants won the World Series with Posey in 2010, missed the playoffs in 2011 because Posey got hurt, then won the World Series again in 2012 because Posey came back” is a gross oversimplification. While Posey was spectacular (in the second half of the season), let’s not ignore the aforementioned Melky Cabrera’s performance, as well as the addition of Hunter Pence, who drove in 45 runs in 60 games.

      Essentially, the MVP vote came down to narrative. It had to, because Braun was statistically better…and much better, than Posey. Outside of average and OBP, Braun led in every category, and in some, the margin of difference was quite substantial. 17 more home runs, 30 more runs scored, 29 more stolen bases. But the narrative of “Posey coming back from a broken leg” plays better with the national media than “shamed defending NL MVP wins his appeal on a technicality”. it’s all BS.

      What it should have come down to was the Giants making the playoffs, and the Brewers missing it. It’s not Braun’s fault, it’s the bullpen’s fault…a bullpen that blew 29 save opportunities kept the Brewers from October baseball. The Brewer offense led the NL in home runs, runs, and stolen bases. They did their part, and you cannot ignore Braun’s performance in carrying the team, especially without Prince Fielder batting behind him.

      If it came down to the playoffs, as it did in 2011 when Matt Kemp had a slightly better year in power numbers, then Posey still should have won. But the margin of victory is unjustifiable, as is the Hank Aaron Award going to Posey.

      I like Buster Posey, and hope he can play a long time, and stay healthy. How can you not like him? But the fact of the matter is that of the catchers that were finalists for the MVP, the wrong won finished on top. Yadier Molina had a comparable average and home run total, slightly less RBI (a product of his position in the lineup), but was clearly superior on the field. The Cardinals made the playoffs…but again, Molina lacked the “feel good” aspect that Posey did. All things considered, when the writers fawn about Posey having one of the all-time great seasons for a catcher, they seem to ignore, or dismiss Molina’s season.

      • Tim

        Posey was a lot better than Molina this season.

  • Shay Casey

    The defensive comparison here is a bit disingenuous. How about adjusting for the fact that Posey played most of his games as a catcher, largely thought to be the toughest position on the field, while Braun played left field, one of the easiest? I’d say any extra points for defensive contribution have to go to Posey.

    The other obvious reason Posey got more votes is that his team made the playoffs, whereas Braun and McCutchen did not. There’s an argument to be made that this shouldn’t be a factor, since MVP is essentially an individual award and it’s not fair to give a guy extra credit for having better teammates . . . but this is a historical bias that has always been baked in to the MVP. You’ve always been more likely to win if your team made the postseason. No reason to be surprised that it happened again this year.

    Those two factors — tougher defensive position and being on a playoff team — definitely explain why Posey appeared to run away with the award.