MLB MVP Winners 2011: NL and AL Results, Reaction and Analysis
1. LF Ryan Braun MIL (.332/.397/.597, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 109 R, 33 SB, 7.7 WAR): 388 Points (20)
Bruan was a bit of a surprise winner, as many would have expected him and Prince Fielder to split votes as they both played a huge role in carrying the Milwaukee offense. That said, Braun had the best season of his career in 2011 as he set career highs in BA, OBP, SLG, SB and K/BB ratio. He will be counted on to do even more next season with Fielder likely gone, and if Milwaukee makes the postseason in 2012 he could repeat as MVP.
2. CF Matt Kemp LAD (.324/.399/.586, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 115 R, 40 SB, 10.0 WAR): 332 Points (10)
Braun made a run at the Triple Crown this past season, and ended up leading the league in HR, RBI, R and WAR. He also took home a Gold Glove and came one home run from being the fifth member of the 40-40 club. Had the Dodgers played better, he would have been a shoe-in for the award but instead he'll have to settle for second place.
3. 1B Prince Fielder MLB (.299/.415/.566, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 95 R, 5.2 WAR): 229 Points (1)
In what was almost certainly his last season in Milwaukee, Fielder teamed with Ryan Braun to form the best 3-4 duo in baseball and lead the Brewers to the postseason. He deserves at least partial credit for providing MVP Ryan Braun protection in the lineup, and it will be interesting to see how Braun is affect.
4. RF Justin Upton ARI (.289/.369/.529, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 105 R, 21 SB, 4.1 WAR): 214 Points (1)
The Diamondbacks were the surprise postseason team of 2011, and while their success stemmed from great pitching and an overall team approach offensively, there is little question Upton was the star of their offense. It's hard to believe he is still just 23 years old, and he should be an NL MVP front runner for the next decade.
5. 1B Albert Pujols STL (.299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 105 R, 5.4 WAR): 166 Points
Pujols effectively had the worst season of his storied career in 2011 and it was still good for a fifth place finish in MVP voting. After slumping to a .245 averaged through the season's first month and not hitting his 10th home run until June, Pujols still approached the .300/30/100 plateaus. Where he decides will be the decision of the offseason.
6. 1B Joey Votto CIN (.309/.416/.531, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 101 R, 6.5 WAR): 135 Points
The 2010 NL MVP, Votto posted similar numbers in 2011 but the Reds were unable to duplicate their success due in large part to their pitching. Still, Votto led the NL in Doubles, BB and OBP while posting a higher WAR than he did in 2010. He's emerged as a legitimate superstar in Cincinnati.
7. RF Lance Berkman STL (.301/.412/.547, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 90 R, 5.2 WAR): 118 Points
Coming off of a .248 BA, 14 HR, 58 RBI season, it was at least a bit of a head scratcher when the Cardinals signed the 35-year-old Berkman to a one-year, $8 million deal and put him in right field. He made the team look like geniuses though, as he captured Comeback Player of the Year honors and had his best season in three years.
8. SS Troy Tulowitzki COL (.302/.372/.544, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 81 R, 5.8 WAR): 69 Points
There is little question that Tulowitzki is the most complete offensive shortstop in baseball, and he also took home his second straight Gold Glove. Signed through 2020, he will be the top NL shortstop for the foreseeable future until someone unseats him.
9. SP Roy Halladay PHI (32 GS, 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 220 Ks, 233.2 IP, 7.4 WAR): 52 Points
Halladay was once again the most consistent pitcher in baseball, and would still likely be most people's picks to put on the mound to win one game. He led the league in complete games for the fifth straight year with eight, and also had the best ERA+ (164) and BB/9 ratio (1.3).
10. 1B Ryan Howard PHI (.253/.346/.488, 33 HR, 116 RBI, 81 R, 2.7 WAR): 39 Points
At this point in his career, you know exactly what you're going to get from Ryan Howard. At ton of strikeouts with a .350 OBP despite that, and a 30 HR/100 RBI season. The 2011 season was more of the same from the Phillies cleanup hitter.
11. SS Jose Reyes NYM (.337/.384/.493, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 101 R, 39 SB, 5.8 WAR): 31 Points
Reyes picked a great time to have the best season of his career and win the NL batting title, as he is set to hit the free agent market and will be as in demand as anyone. His steal numbers are down from the days when he's swipe 60+, but he is still a fantastic table setter, and his 16 triples show he's still got speed to burn.
12. SP Clayton Kershaw LAD (33 GS, 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 248 Ks, 233.1 IP, 7.0 WAR): 29 Points
While Justin Verlander's season got the majority of the attention, and rightfully so, Kershaw was dominant in his own right as he also captured the Triple Crown while also leading the NL in WHIP (0.977) and H/9 (6.7). He and Matt Kemp will be the foundation the Dodgers build around as they attempt to get back to the postseason.
13. CF Shane Victorino PHI (.279/.355/.491, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 95 R, 5.1 WAR): 18 Points
The Phillies had to deal with the loss of Jayson Werth this past season, and Shane Victorino stepped up offensively in his absence as he split time between hitting lead off and fifth in the order. He tied for the NL lead with 16 triples and will be relied on to be a catalyst once again in 2012.
14. SP Ian Kennedy ARI (33 GS, 21-4, 2.88 ERA, 198 Ks, 222 IP, 5.5 WAR): 16 Points
Kennedy joined the Diamondbacks prior to the 2010 season as part of the Curtis Granderson/Austin Jackson/Max Scherzer trade. He showed flashes in going 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA in 2010, but no one could have saw his 2011 season coming. He deserves as much credit as anyone for the Diamondbacks surprise postseason berth, and he should be their staff ace for years to come.
Who Deserved The NL MVP Award?
15. SP Cliff Lee PHI (32 GS, 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 238 Ks, 232.2 IP, 6.9 WAR): 12 Points
Lee shocked many around baseball when he signed with the Phillies last offseason, and he was every bit as dominant as he had been in past seasons alongside fellow ace Roy Halladay. In fact, he turned in two of the most dominant months in recent memory in June (5-0, 0.21 ERA) and August (5-0, 0.45 ERA).
16. RF Hunter Pence HOU/PHI (.314/.370/.502, 22 HR, 97 RBI, 84 R, 5.2 WAR): 10 Points
Pence was far and away the best player on the Astros before being traded to the Phillies on July 29th. He hit .324 BA, 11 HR, 35 RBI down the stretch and he's under the Phillies control for the next two seasons. He'll serve as an upgrade over Raul Ibanez next season, and it will be interesting to see the numbers he can put up over a full season with some protection behind him in the lineup.
17. John Axford MIL (74 G, 46 Sv, 1.95 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 2.7 WAR): 7 Points
17. Pablo Sandoval SF (.315/.357/.552, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 6.1 WAR): 7 Points
19. Mike Morse WSN (.303/.360/.550, 31 HR, 95 RBI, 3.0 WAR): 5 Points
20. Carlos Beltran NYM/SF (.300/.385/.525, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 4.4 WAR): 3 Points
21. Yadier Molina STL (.305/.349/.465, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 3.9 WAR): 2 Points
21. Miguel Montero ARI (.282/.351/.469, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 4.5 WAR): 2 Points
23. Starlin Castro CHC (.307/.341/.432, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 2.2 WAR): 1 Point
23. Craig Kimbrel ATL (79 G, 46 Sv, 2.10 ERA, 14.8 K/9, 3.0 WAR): 1 Point
23. Carlos Ruiz PHI (.283/.371/.383, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 3.0 WAR): 1 Point
23. Mike Stanton FLA (.262/.356/.537, 34 HR, 87 RBI, 5.7 WAR): 1 Point
1. SP Justin Verlander DET (34 GS, 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 Ks, 251 IP, 8.6 WAR): 280 Points (13)
The argument went on all season as to whether a starting pitcher who only influenced 34 games is deserving of the MVP award, but in the case of Verlander, he did more than that. In leading the league in innings pitched, he allowed manger Jim Leyland to use his bullpen differently than any other manager in the league could. That aside, he was without question the season's most dominant player and the Tigers would have had no chance to play in October without him.
2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury BOS (.321/.376/.552, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 119 R, 39 SB, 7.2 WAR): 242 Points (4)
Following an injury-plagued season in which he appeared in just 18 games, Ellsbury was one of the Red Sox' biggest questions entering the 2011 season. He answered those questions—and then some—as he led the team in home runs and steals, bringing a little of everything to the table offensively while also winning a Gold Glove
3. RF Jose Bautista TOR (.302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R, 8.5 WAR): 231 Points (5)
Coming off of an out-of-nowhere 54 home run season last year, Bautista proved that his breakout season was no fluke as he once again led the AL in home runs while also drawing a league-high 132 walks. It's safe to say he's the real deal, and at just 30 years old expect him to be in MVP contention for the next few seasons.
4. CF Curtis Granderson NYY (.262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 119 RBI, 136 R, 5.2 WAR): 215 Points (3)
After a disappointing first season in New York last year, Granderson rebounded in a big way, as he led the AL in RBI and runs while taking full advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right field porch to post career-best power numbers.
5. 1B Miguel Cabrera DET (.344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 111 R, 7.1 WAR): 193 Points (2)
The National League version of Albert Pujols, Cabrera tallied his standard 30 HR, 100 RBI season but upped his average to a career-high .344 to capture the AL batting title. After a tough offseason marred by a DUI arrest, Cabrera bounced back well with what may be his best season to date.
6. 2B Robinson Cano NYY (.302/.349/.533, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 104 R, 4.6 WAR): 112 Points
Cano proved that his spike in power last season was not a fluke, as he was once again among the AL leaders in most power categories. As Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have begun to decline, Cano has stepped in as the team's offensive leader and should be rewarded with a monster extension very soon because of that.
7. 1B Adrian Gonzalez BOS (.338/.410/.548, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 108 R, 6.9 WAR): 105 Points
After toiling in relative obscurity for five stellar seasons in San Diego, Gonzalez finally got the attention he deserved this season after coming over to Boston in an offseason trade. He was the AL MVP of the first half, with a .354 BA, 17 HR, 77 RBI line. While he fell off a bit, his final season totals were still fantastic, and he did it while playing Gold Glove defense.
8. UT Michael Young TEX (.338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI, 88 R, 2.4 WAR): 96 Points (1)
When the Rangers signed free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre last offseason, it seemed to signal the end of the Michael Young era in Texas, but instead the team kept him and the veteran slid into a super utility role. Taking it in stride like a true professional, Young ended up hitting in the heart of the Rangers order and leading the team in RBI while racking up 213 hits to lead the AL.
9. 2B Dustin Pedroia BOS (.307/.387/.474, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 102 R, 6.8 WAR): 48 Points
After appearing in just 75 games last season after a foot injury sidelined him, Pedroia was back to his normal self in 2011 as he set career highs in HR, RBI and SB (26). Still just 27, he could challenge for a 30-30 season next year.
10. 3B Evan Longoria TB (.244/.355/.495, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 78 R, 6.3 WAR): 27 Points
On what was an offensively challenged team led into the postseason by great pitching, Longoria was the Rays' primary offensive producer. While he hit a career-low .244, he was still an elite run producer and as important to his team as anyone in baseball.
11. 2B Ian Kinsler TEX (.255/.355/.477, 32 HR, 77 RBI, 121 R, 30 SB, 5.4 WAR): 25 Points
He'll never hit for a high average, but he's no doubt an impact hitter. He posted the second 30-30 season of his career in 2011, as he tied for the team lead in home runs.
12. C Alex Avila DET (.295/.389/.506, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 63 R, 5.4 WAR): 13 Points
Avila was one of the breakout players of the year, as he assumed the everyday catching role for the Tigers and caught an impressive 133 games while ranking among the leaders in most offensive categories among backstops.
Who Deserved The AL MVP Award?
13. 1B Paul Konerko CWS (.300/.388/.517, 31 HR, 105 RBI, 69 R, 3.6 WAR): 11 Points
The White Sox were faced with the tough choice last offseason of whether or not to bring back veteran slugger Paul Konerko. They look to have made the right choice, as Konerko was a bright spot on what was a disappointing White Sox team.
14. SP C.C. Sabathia NYY (33 GS, 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 Ks, 237.1 IP, 6.9 WAR): 10 Points
The Yankees rotation was a huge question mark all season long, but the one constant was ace C.C. Sabathia, who has now gone 59-23 in his three seasons with the Yankees.
15. Adrian Beltre TEX (.296/.331/.561, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 5.2 WAR): 9 Points
16. Victor Martinez DET (.330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI, 2.9 WAR): 7 Points
16. James Shields TB (33 GS, 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 Ks, 6.1 WAR): 7 Points
16. Ben Zobrist TB (.269/.353/.469, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 5.1 WAR): 7 Points
19. Mark Teixeira NYY (.248/.341/.494, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 2.4 WAR): 5 Points
20. Asdrubal Cabrera CLE (.273/.332/.460, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 3.7 WAR): 4 Points
21. Alex Gordon KC (.303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 5.9 WAR): 3 Points
22. Josh Hamilton TEX (.298/.346/.536, 25 HR, 94 RBI, 3.6 WAR): 1 Point
22. David Robertson NYY (70 G, 4-0, 1.08 ERA, 13.6 K/9, 3.9 WAR): 1 Point
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