This is the first of four blog posts I plan to publish over the coming days; all of which will focus on who I feel should win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player (MVP), Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY).
I’m not all that influenced by stats, and I especially don’t lean towards a player just because their team made it to the playoffs and another player’s team didn’t. I’ve always chosen to look at it by which player had the greatest positive impact on their team, and I’m not about to change things.
As I stated in a previous blog entry, I don’t want you to think of these as predictions, but rather as cases for which player I feel deserves each award. The player I feel most deserves a specific award isn’t necessarily the player I think will win it. (Keep that in mind as you’re reading.)
If MVP voting took place during the All-Star break Andrew McCutchen would have my vote, hands down. McCutchen was a big reason the Pirates were 11 games over .500 and atop the NL Central at the time. With McCutchen leading the way, it appeared that the Pirates were well on their way to the teams first .500+ season since 1992–but things didn’t go as planned for McCutchen and the Bucco’s.
In the games following the Midsummer Classic, the Pirates did nothing but tumble; with McCutchen sharing in the same fate. Losing a spot in the standings each month following July, the Pirates finished the year 18 games back of first place in their division (good enough for 4th); with McCutchen’s batting average falling from .362 to .327 over that time span.
Though McCutchen batted .327 on the year, with 31 home runs and 96 RBI’s, he couldn’t keep up the pace throughout the entire season, which is very key in my book when it comes to making a selection for MVP. When a team relies on a player as much as the Pirates relied on McCutchen, that player has to be able to step up all season long to ensure that the team succeeds. Unfortunately, McCutchen wasn’t able to pull if off.
Thus, McCutchen isn’t my pick for MVP…
When Melky Cabrera was suspended in August for his PED use, the Giants’ needed someone to step up and start impacting the team in a major way, should they have a hope at keeping up with the sizzling Dodgers; who were one game ahead in the division standings at the time. That person would end up being Buster Posey….Brandon Belt…Pablo Sandoval…and pretty much 75 percent of the team. But wait….that’s more than one person. I know. (That’s exactly my point.)
Buster Posey put up incredible stats this season, batting .336 on the year, with 24 home runs and 103 RBI’s, but he didn’t single-handedly put the Giants in the postseason; which is what I’ve been hearing a lot of lately. While Posey certainly played a major role in the Giants’ run to the playoffs, he wasn’t the only one coming up big night, after night, after night. There were several other guys that made major contributions as well.
That’s one of the main reasons I feel voting for MVP based on whether or not a player’s team made the playoffs is crazy. Nearly 100 percent of the time, a player didn’t push his team into the playoffs without some help from his teamates along the way.
So, although Posey had a stellar year, he didn’t quite make my cut…
My Vote for M.V.P.
My vote for Most Valuable Player of the National League goes to Ryan Braun.
While he didn’t ‘lead his team to the playoffs’, no player in the National League had the impact that Braun had on the Brewers. Without Braun, the Brewers don’t finish out the season as strongly as they did. Which is one of the key reasons he’s my pick for MVP.
Braun was ‘that guy’ for the Brewers all season long, and he didn’t let up when September rolled around, even though it appeared the Brewers were out of contention; if anything, Braun got even better. That’s the kind of player Braun is. He impacts his team day in and day out, even when it would be easy to hang it up.
Something I’ve been hearing a lot of lately is that Braun won’t win the MVP award due to his 2011 Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) accusation. Even though Braun was found not guilty, some are still holding it against him. My response to that being: Get over it.
By putting up even better numbers than last year, Braun has proven to the world that he doesn’t need banned substances to make him a beast; he’s a beast by nature. Though his batting average fell 13 points from last year, Braun smacked 8 more home runs–and for good measure, an extra RBI–than he did in 2011. While I don’t hold too much stock in stats, that really jumps out at me.
It’s incredible what Braun was able to do all season long to help out his team. He had the greatest impact of any other player in the NL, and doing so earns him my pick for 2012 National League MVP.