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The Dodgers' next biggest hitting star behind Kemp is Andre Ethier, who had an awful year. Juan Rivera came in after the All-Star break and provided a little spark. Otherwise, you're looking at Kemp, one good month from rookie Dee Gordon and the most inconsistent bat in baseball, first baseman James Loney.
It's okay if you haven't heard of a couple of those guys. It's because they aren't stars. But in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun was surrounded by another MVP candidate in Prince Fielder, as well as Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan and Corey Hart. All four of those guys would start on the Dodgers, no doubt about it.
Looking further at the roster as a whole, the Dodgers boast Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw at the top of the rotation, and then...emptiness. Hiroki Kuroda can be brilliant, but he usually finishes around .500 because he has a good game, then a bad game, then a good game, then a bad game...you get the point.
In Milwaukee, Braun was playing with a pitching staff led by Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Zach Greinke, who won a Cy Young himself a couple years ago. Gallardo is annually one of the best players in baseball and Marcum was the ace in Toronto before coming over and having a pretty good year at Miller Park this season.
The supporting casts of these two players is such a clincher for me. The Brewers' offense has a comfortable advantage over the Dodgers' in batting average, hits, runs, home runs and RBI. Still, Kemp was able to put up huge numbers with nobody getting on base and nobody protecting him in the lineup.
I'm not saying Braun only benefited from having table setters on base to drive in and a monster in Fielder behind him for protection. Because I think Braun is a fantastic hitter and would probably put up good numbers in the Dodgers' lineup too. But it will be interesting to see how his numbers will suffer when Fielder departs this offseason.
My whole reason for bringing the supporting cast up, is that the biggest counter-argument to Kemp winning MVP has been that he didn't play for a contender. I say, if there is anyone in the history of baseball who could have carried a team with such a rag-tag supporting roster to a division title, I will eat my words.
But I'm not worried. Because nobody could. The MVP is about who is the most valuable player to their team. Not the most valuable player who also played on the best team. No doubt that the Brew Crew won the NL Central in large part thanks to Braun. There's also no doubt that they would have contended without him.
Edge: Braun (not a good thing)