Did Ryan Braun's Tainted MVP Season Rob Matt Kemp of Only Chance to Win MVP?
Braun has been linked to the Biogenesis scandal and was suspended for the rest of the season because of it. He reportedly may have been taking PEDs during the 2011 season when he won the NL MVP award, and now players and fans alike are calling for him to be stripped of the award.
Yeah, I do [think Braun should have his award taken]. I feel like it should be, but that's not for me to decide, you know?
I'm disappointed. I talked to Braun before any of this happened, we had conversations and I considered him a friend. I don't think anybody likes to be lied to and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed. That's not just me, that's the whole Brewers organization, a lot of his teammates. I think a lot of people feel that way.
Kemp certainly has the right to feel like he's been cheated. After all, he was so close to winning the MVP award that season and came up just short against a guy who may have been cheating.
Kemp worked his butt off in 2011, setting new career-highs in home runs (39), RBI (129), on-base percentage (.399), slugging (.586) and OPS (.986). It was the first time that he hit 30 home runs or more, the second time he knocked in 100 RBI and the second time he finished a season with a batting average above .300.
The MVP race was incredibly close that year, and there were people who said that Kemp should have won it before allegations against Braun even came out.
Ryan Young of The American Spectator was among those calling for Kemp to win.
Kemp did have a better year... The reason Kemp lost was that his Dodgers were a middling team this year, finishing with an 82-79 record. Braun’s Milwaukee Brewers won 96 games and nearly made it to the World Series. The 32 sportswriters who vote for the NL MVP – two from each NL team’s city – have a well-known bias in favor of players from contending teams. In essence, Kemp was punished for the sin of having less talented teammates than Braun. How is this fair?
Andrew Mindzak of Yahoo! Sports agreed, detailing how Kemp had better numbers across the board.
Kemp's numbers were slightly better than Braun's. Braun had a higher average than Kemp, .332 compared to .324, but Kemp hit 39 home runs to Braun's 33 and Kemp also drove in more runs, 126 to 111. Kemp also stole 40 bases compared to Braun's 33, both impressive totals considering the power they both have. For people that love WAR, Kemp posted a WAR of 10 while Braun had a 7.7. Yes, I feel Braun had a great year, but Kemp's was just a little bit better.
Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times even weighed in on the matter.
If there is one piece of concrete evidence that says Kemp should not have been voted MVP over Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, I want to see it.
Kemp did have the better year, and there's no way to dispute that. If the two were compared side-by-side without names and without seeing their teams' records, Kemp would have won in a landslide.
But he didn't.
We can't change the fact that Kemp was robbed of his MVP award, but we can strip Braun of his.
What's worse is that Kemp will never have another chance to win the MVP award, and he lost his only chance to do so because of a player who may have used PEDs.
Starting in 2012, Kemp began to run into a series of injuries that threw his career off course, and it will be next to impossible for him to come back to being the best player in the NL again.
Kemp played just 106 games in 2012, missing the other 56 due in part to injury. He missed over a third of the season, and when he did play, he wasn't the same player. His batting average dipped 21 points, he hit 13 fewer home runs and his RBI numbers were almost cut in half.
This season has been even worse for Kemp, as he recently ended up on the DL for the third time this year with a sprained left ankle. He's only played in 62 of the team's 99 games this year, and he is having his worst season in years, posting career-lows in slugging and OPS.
After this latest trip to the DL, Kemp has proven himself to be an injury-prone player. He simply can't stay on the field for extended periods of time, which will end any hopes that he has to win an MVP award.
Kemp has also been dealing with a steep decline over the last year-and-a-half, posting numbers that wouldn't even get him into the MVP conversation if he played all 162 games.
Kemp's window of opportunity has closed, and because Braun may have used PEDs, he will never win an MVP award.
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