I think it's safe to say that Ryan Braun has shaken off the negative publicity.
I was reading a Bleacher Report article (here) about Major League Baseball end-of-the-year awards. The most interesting award for me (full disclosure, I am a Milwaukee Brewers fan), was the Most Valuable Player Award, who the author in that article predicted would be Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants.
Buster Posey? Really?
I mean, sure, he's having a great year. He's the front-runner (and ultimately should win) the Comeback Player of the Year Award, but MVP? He's put up solid numbers so far this season—as of writing this, he has 19 home runs, 89 runs batted in, a .329 batting average, he's slugging .530, and he has an on-base plus slugging rate of .935.
Those are all solid numbers, and like I said, Posey has had a great year. But those are not MVP numbers.
On the other hand, let's take a look at Braun's numbers in comparison to Posey. Braun has 37 home runs, 95 runs batted in, a batting average of .310, he's slugging .607, and he has an on-base plus slugging of .996. Not to mention he's also valuable on the bases, swiping 22 bags so far this year compared to Posey's whopping one.
Those are MVP numbers, and quite frankly, he's the only player in the NL who is even remotely close to putting up anything like that. If Braun turns up the heat a little more on stealing bases, he'll have a 40/30 season by the end of the year. At this rate, he's on pace for 45 homers and 27 stolen bases, to go along with 116 RBI.
The fact that Posey is even being considered as the league's MVP over Braun is absolutely flabbergasting to me.
A lot of fans (in fact, probably most) are going to point to last year, when Braun won the MVP award despite Matt Kemp having an altogether better year. Braun won the MVP because he took his team to the playoffs, while the Los Angeles Dodgers sat at home.
That's a very fair point, and if someone was even close to Braun's overall statistical output and playing for a club that was leading the division, I would not be writing this article. The problem is that there is simply no one in the National League even close to achieving what Braun has this season.
Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds has posted 29 homers to go along with 87 RBI, but has a batting average of .259. Carlos Beltran has belted 28 homers and 86 RBI, but is only hitting .266, and like Bruce, is not a major threat on the bases.
Take a look for yourselves at MLB's site and try to find a player on a division leading or a wild card team that even approaches the numbers that Braun has put up, and I will recant and get behind that player immediately.
I'm not a hypocrite. I believe Braun was the second best player in the National League last year behind Kemp, but I also believe Braun deserved his MVP because of his relative closeness to Kemp, and the fact that the Brewers were in the playoffs.
That simply is not the case this year. No one is close, and no one else deserves the MVP award.
Further, the Milwaukee Brewers are getting hot right now. They just completed a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates and now sit at 65-68, only 6.5 games back of a wild-card spot.
There is still plenty of baseball to be played, but the Brewers are going to need to bring everything they have to make the playoffs. The Brewers are clicking right now (thanks in large part to Braun), and they very well may make a push for one of the two wild-card spots up for grabs.
If Ryan Braun continues at the pace he's on, and if no one else can come within even viewing distance of Braun's overall production, he absolutely should win the MVP award.
It will be a travesty if he doesn't.