The race for the National League MVP award was a close one. There were many deserving candidates and there were a number of different factors that needed to be considered for the voters to make a decision.
Matt Kemp may have put up better numbers, but Ryan Braun was able to lead his team into the playoffs. These factors made for a very difficult decision between the two, but one was reached.
Braun managed to edge out Kemp for the 2011 NL MVP award because he was more valuable to his team.
Stats: .332/.397/.597, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB
Matt Kemp was the biggest competition that Ryan Braun had for the NL MVP award. It is certainly possible to argue that Braun was more valuable to his team than Kemp was and the voters felt that way.
He led the NL in OPS, but some of the spotlight in Milwaukee was taken away from Braun by his teammate, Prince Fielder. Braun helped lead the Brewers to the their first division title in 29 years.
Stats: .324/.399/.586, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB
Matt Kemp was absolutely outstanding in 2011. He led the National League in both home runs and RBI and just missed out on the NL Triple Crown. Kemp finished third in batting average.
Additionally, Kemp was just one home run away from becoming the fifth member of the 40/40 club. There were some concerns about Kemp’s candidacy for this award because of the fact that he played on a third-place team.
Advanced sabermetrics favor Kemp as he had the highest WAR of any player in the National League. He had a 10.0 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, while the next-highest total was Ryan Braun’s 7.7 WAR.
Playing on a team that did not make the playoffs certainly hurt Kemp's chances.
Stats: .299/.415/.566, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 1 SB
Along with Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder helped lead the Milwaukee Brewers to the playoffs. He put together a very solid season and is now one of the top free agents on the market.
Fielder was one of the National League representatives at first base for the 2011 All-Star Game. He finished in the top 10 in the National League in home runs, RBI, runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored and WAR.
Stats: .289/.369/.529, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB
Without Justin Upton, the Arizona Diamondbacks do not win the National League West and make the playoffs. He was without a doubt the most valuable player on their roster.
The 23-year-old has already won a Silver Slugger award this season. Upton was one of the best players in the NL this year and finished in the top 10 of many offensive categories. His number of strikeouts and the fact that he led all NL outfielders in errors hurt his MVP candidacy.
Stats: .299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB
There is little doubt that Albert Pujols is currently the best player in baseball. However, he had the worst season of his career in 2011. Even with his struggles, he managed to garner a few MVP votes.
Pujols is the top free agent available this winter and he has drawn a decent amount of interest. He helped lead the Cardinals to the playoffs in 2011 and they eventually went on their magical run to the World Series title.
Stats: .309/.416/.531, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 8 SB
The reigning National League MVP put together another outstanding season, but it was not enough for him to win his second straight NL MVP award.
Joey Votto led the National League in doubles, walks and on-base percentage. He also won a Gold Glove award.
Stats: .301/.412/.547, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 2 SB
When Albert Pujols was injured this season, Lance Berkman stepped things up and took over as a leader for the St. Louis Cardinals. Even after Pujols returned, Berkman was able to continue on his offensive tear.
As valuable as Pujols is to the St. Louis Cardinals, Berkman may have been more valuable to the team this year. He served as another major offensive presence in the Cardinals lineup that was able to support Pujols.
Stats: .302/.372/.544, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB
Troy Tulowitzki has already collected a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger this season. It would certainly be fair to say that he is the best shortstop in baseball.
Tulowitzki has been absolutely invaluable to the Colorado Rockies during his career with the team and this season was no different. He has continued to get better and better as his career has progressed.
Stats: 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 220 K
Going into the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies knew that they were going to be set with their four aces. Roy Halladay was the best of the bunch and he pitched like it this season.
Interestingly enough, Halladay did not win the NL Cy Young award, but he received the most votes of any pitcher for the NL MVP award.
Stats: .253/.346/.488, 33 HR, 116 RBI, 1 SB
Ever since he won the National League MVP award in 2006, Ryan Howard has finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting. 2011 was no different for Howard.
Howard was a key piece of the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies. His presence in the middle of the Phillies lineup was important to their success in 2011.
Stats: .337/.384/.493, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 39 SB
There are few players in baseball that are more exciting than Jose Reyes. The voters noted his performance this year by putting him on 12 ballots.
Reyes won the National League batting title this season. He is now a free agent and a number of teams have expressed interested in signing the star shortstop.
Stats: 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 248 K
Clayton Kershaw took home the 2011 NL Pitching Triple Crown, but he did not have impressive enough numbers to win the MVP award just like Justin Verlander was able to do this year.
Kershaw was absolutely dominant on the mound in 2011 and he is one of the best pitchers in the game today. The Los Angeles Dodgers always had a chance to win when he was on the mound.
13) Shane Victorino: 18 Points
14) Ian Kennedy: 16 Points
15) Cliff Lee: 12 Points
16) Hunter Pence: 10 Points
T-17) Pablo Sandoval: 7 Points
T-17) Jon Axford: 7 Points
19) Mike Morse: 5 Points
20) Carlos Beltran: 3 Points
T-21) Miguel Montero: 2 Points
T-21) Yadier Molina: 2 Points
T-23) Starlin Castro: 1 Point
T-23) Craig Kimbrel: 1 Point
T-23) Carlos Ruiz: 1 Point
T-23) Mike Stanton: 1 Point