Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why Not Kemp?

Matt Kemp's 2011: .329 AVG/39 HR/126 RBI/115 R/40 SB; Gold Glove
Ryan Braun won the NL MVP Award Wednesday, and he probably should have. Braun was the best player on a Brewers team that captured their first division title in 30 years and the first Brewer to win the MVP since Robin Yount. While both have similar hair related issues, they were both deserving MVP candidates.

While the numbers and advanced stats are debatable, what isn't in question is whose team did better, and that ultimately was the biggest factor in Braun getting the nod over Kemp. I heard from an industry insider, ex-girlfriends were not considered as part of a player's MVP-ness, otherwise it might have been a different story.

As a side note, my favorite thing about Kemp's season is that two years ago (2010), when he was dating Rihanna, he had his worst year to date, and was being lambasted as lazy and not capitalizing on his immense talent. You can totally see his thought process, "Hmmm, 100 extra swings in the cage and work on tracking fly balls or head out to see Ri-Ri on a yacht?" Hence you have a WARP of 1.5 as compared to 8.9 this year.

You won't mull over many 0-4 nights if this is waiting at home for you. 

Now for those of you paying attention while the article title appears to speak in favor of Kemp getting the MVP trophy, you may be confused as to why I spent the first two paragraphs saying Braun is the right choice. Well I say, "Why Not Kemp?" simply because the seemingly same criteria that damned his chances benefited his Dodger teammate Clayton Kershaw's Cy Young victory just days earlier.

Not knocking Mr. Kershaw.
Kershaw won 2/3rds of the pitching triple crown (tying wins) and Kemp won 2/3rds of the hitting triple crown (losing to future Miami Marlin, Jose Reyes in batting average). They both played on the same team, and yet the voters were compelled to elect Kershaw the most elite pitcher, but not Kemp as the most elite position player.

The debate between what the 'valuable' means in MVP has been discussed time and time again, but what I'm interested in is that with virtually similar seasonal resumes as pitcher and hitter, one was penalized where the other was not. 

What appears to be the case is that these baseball writers view a pitcher's accomplishments as more of a singular performance, regardless of team, while the everyday position player has the added expectation of carrying that team to a winning record and, more than likely, the playoffs. 

Where does that burden lie? If the feeling is that the position player has more of an impact in a season, then why should Justin Verlander win the MVP (Cy Young was a lock for him)? Shouldn't Jacoby Ellsbury or Miguel Cabrera get more consideration for that added burden?

This NL MVP race was much more "up for grabs" than the NL Cy Young. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Ian Kennedy all had comparable figures to Kershaw, and they were on winning/playoff teams (remember voting takes place at the end of the year, so the Phils collapse would have no impact). This is no knock on Kershaw, as he is probably the best young pitcher in baseball. He'll get many more Cy's to add to this, but I was surprised how these baseball experts treated two similar situations so differently.

There is an innate difference in the way the writers view position and everyday players. Why not Kemp? Because his team did not accomplish what makes a position player the Most Valuable in the league. 

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