Ryan Braun Wins NL MVP: So What Team You're on Decides Your Value?

Chris Murphy@@SeeMurphsTweetsAnalyst INovember 22, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 13:  Ryan Braun  #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Four of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 13, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arguing who is better between Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp and Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is like arguing apples and oranges.

Both players had amazing seasons.

Braun batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI, 109 runs, 33 stolen bases in 39 attempts, a .397 OBP, .597 slugging percentage and .994 OPS.

Kemp batted .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBI, 115 runs, 40 stolen bases in 51 attempts, a .399 OBP, .586 slugging percentage and a .986 OPS.

Defensively Kemp had a -4.7 UZR/150 and a 8 Rtot per 1,200 innings in 138 innings in center field versus Braun's -4.7 UZR/150 and 6 Rtot per 1,200 innings in 125 innings in left field.

There are many questions here regarding who is most valued among these two and they are questions voters must answer, so there is a distinct definition of what the MVP is actually awarding. 

Are we going to value how a team does versus what an individual does when handing out the award?

Kemp did not have a teammate bat over .292 and Rod Barajas was second on the Dodgers with 16 home runs. Braun was surrounded in his lineup with guys like Prince Fielder (38 HRs, .299 BA, .981 OPS), Corey Hary (26 HRs, .285 BA, .866 OPS) and Rickie Weeks (20 HRs, .269 BA, .818 OPS).

Fielder had one less home run than the next three home run leaders on the Dodgers behind Kemp.

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 7-6 in 10 innings
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This doesn't even factor in that one player cannot control how a team does. Baseball is an individual sport disguised as a team sport. The only thing one player can control is what he does and doesn't do.

On the other hand, based on what a team does, are we going to delegate certain scenarios more difficult to hit in than others. In other words, since the Brewers made the playoffs and the Dodgers had no chance, were Braun's games more difficult to play in than Kemp's?

That's basically a question that can't be answered.

Let's face it. Just how much pressure is on these guys? They are getting paid to play baseball whether a team loses or wins.

One can say Fielder and Kemp had the most pressure because they were playing for contracts. You can even argue many Brewers games down the stretch were meaningless, considering they ran away with the NL Central.

Arguing what games are more important, pressure and clutch won't lead anywhere.

The main question that should be brought up when looking at two cases like Braun and Kemp for MVP is that if you switched the scenarios, who would be worse off.

Basically, could Kemp do what he did with the lineup the Brewers had and could Braun do what he did with the lineup the Dodgers had?

Based on the scenarios, Kemp switching to Braun's case is easier than Braun switching to Kemp's case, so one has to conclude it would be more logical to say Kemp would have his season in Braun's position than Braun would in Kemp's position.

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 14: Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 14, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Get
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Next season, when Fielder is not in Braun's lineup, we will see just how much of an MVP he is. On the other hand, now that Kemp got paid, we'll see just how much of an MVP he could be.

Finally, what if Kemp won the Triple Crown? I'm sure most people would say he'd have to win MVP if he had that title.

OK, so you're telling me, since Kemp had 195 hits in 602 at-bats versus Jose Reyes' 181 hits in 537 at-bats, that cost him the MVP? Kemp was the leader in home runs and RBI and was eight hits away from being the leader in batting average.

So eight hits cost him the MVP?

Kemp walked 31 more times than Reyes. Perhaps, instead of helping his team by getting on base, Kemp should have swung for hits.

There is always an argument for sports awards, but as long as the voters get someone deserving, which Braun is (see Derek Jeter's Gold Gloves for scenarios where the vote didn't even go to a deserving athlete), it's acceptable.

What is puzzling about this MVP award is the misconception of what type of player the award actually goes to. That has to be defined either as the best individual player or the player who led his team the best.

In the NBA, LeBron James was probably the best player last season, but Derrick Rose matched his stats with a far lesser team, so Rose won the MVP.

Baseball seems to switch between the best player and the best player whose team did well and that inconsistency throws fans off.

At least the voters didn't pick a guy who doesn't play every day for this MVP.