Thursday, October 20, 2011

NL MVP comes down to Kemp versus Braun

At the conclusion of every season, the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) are asked to submit their ballots for the top awards across baseball. Each of these awards is named in honor of a player that epitomized the role in Major League Baseball. Over the past couple of weeks, I have released  my ballots for each award and I will post the official announcements from the BBA with the combined votes of all member blogs.

Today is my final ballot and here is the list of awards that have been announced in the past couple of weeks:
Stan Musial Award for Top Player
National League 
1. Matt Kemp-CF -Los Angeles Dodgers
.324/.399/.586, 39 HR, 126 RBI, rWAR 10.0, 8.7 fWAR
Kemp took a chase for the elusive triple crown into the last week of the season. On a team which was struggling around him, he managed to put up an outstanding performance over the course of the year. He was the National League leader in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, total bases, and OPS+. He stole 40 bases for the first time and was one home run away from entering the 40/40 club. During his career, he had never hit over .300 in a season until this year. His team had the best pitcher in the National League, Clayton Kershaw, and he should be the Most Valuable Player. 

2. Ryan Braun-LF-Milwaukee Brewers
.332/.397/.597, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 7.7 rWAR, 7.8 fWAR
The Brewers were all-in this season to make a run for only their second postseason appearance since 1982. Braun was one of the main parts of their run at the NL Central Division Championship. His performance would garner the MVP award in many other seasons. He finished second in the NL in batting while leading the league in slugging percentage and OPS. 

3. Justin Upton-RF-Arizona Diamondbacks
.289/.369/.529, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 4.1 rWAR, 6.4 fWAR
The Diamondbacks were one of the biggest surprises in the National League this season and Mr. Upton had a lot to do with their success. The AL West Champs used the power of Upton's bat to win their division for the first time since 2007. At only 24-years old, Upton could be a fixture on the NL MVP ballot for years to come.

4. Joey Votto-1B-Cincinnati Reds
.309/.416/.531, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 6.5 rWAR, 6.9 fWAR
Last year's NL MVP put up very similar numbers in 2011 but his team forgot to follow his lead. For the second straight year, Votto was the leader in on-base percentage in the NL which comes from his ability to draw a league high 110 walks. He hit the most doubles in the National League but this still won't be enough to get him back-to-back MVP's in the National League. 

5. Clayton Kershaw-LHP-Los Angeles Dodgers
(21-5), 2.28 ERA, 0.977 WHIP, 248 K, 6.9 rWAR, 6.8 fWAR
For all the national talk of Verlander having a shot at the AL MVP, there has been surprisingly small amount of talk surrounding Kershaw and his candidacy. That being said, Kershaw won the pitching triple crown in 2011 by leading the NL in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. He will have to be satisfied with the Cy Young and the chance his teammate should win the MVP.

6. Troy Tulowizki-SS-Colorado Rockies
.302/.372/.544, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 5.8 rWAR, 6.3 fWAR
The Rockies were a team expected to go places in 2011 but that dream never became a reality. Tulowizki did his best to keep the Rockies near the top of the NL West but it was not enough. Injuries only allowed him to play 143 games and he still managed to have a career high in RBI. 

7. Jose Reyes-SS-New York Mets
.337/.384/.493, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 5.8 rWAR, 6.2 fWAR
Reyes saw a chunk of his season taken away by injures for the third year in a row. He still managed to get enough plate appearances to be crowned the NL Batting Champion. However, many fans are going to remember the way Reyes pulled himself out of the game on the last day to preserve his place at the top of the batting leader board.

8. Roy Halladay-RHP-Philadelphia Phillies
(19-6), 2.35 ERA, 1.040 WHIP, 220 K, 7.4 rWAR, 8.2 fWAR
In a season where Verlander dominated the AL and Kershaw did the same in the NL, Halladay can be the forgotten pitcher of the season. He put up excellent numbers on a Phillies team that set a franchise record for wins in a season. Fan Graphs also has his WAR for the season higher than Verlander and Kershaw. 

9. Prince Fielder-1B-Milwaukee Brewers
.299/.415/.566, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 5.2 rWAR, 5.5 fWAR
Fielder is the second bat from the middle of the Brewers line-up to be featured on this ballot. He has hit more home runs and drove in more run in previous seasons but his 120 RBI are nothing to be ashamed of for a player. For the third consecutive year he had over a 100 walks and he was the NL leader with 32 intentional passes in 2011.

10. Albert Pujols-1B-St. Louis Cardinals
.299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 5.4 rWAR, 5.1 fWAR
It does not seem right to fill out a ballot for the National League MVP and not include the name of Albert Pujols. The truth is the 2011 season was the worst one that "The Machine" has compiled in his 11 year career. It was the first time he finished with a batting average of under .300 and he drove in less than 100 runs for the first time in his career. 

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