Why Ryan Braun Will Not Win 2012 NL Most Valuable Player

Get ready for the most hotly contested November election that will not involve a political office – and if you are a fan of Ryan Braun, you will likely not be happy with the final tabulations for National League Most Valuable Player.

In fact Braun will have a hard time ever winning a MVP award for the rest of his career no matter what he does in a single season.

While watching Milwaukee Brewers telecasts on a nightly basis, I have heard announcer Brian Anderson refer to Braun in recent weeks jumping to the front of MVP consideration with a sensational second half and strong season overall.

Ryan-Braun-MVP

While it seems like Ryan Braun might have a chance to win NL MVP, it’s just not going to happen. (Photo by Steve Paluch via CC BY 2.0)

Statistically, it is a convincing argument. On Friday night Braun completed a 40 HR/30 SB season, and his total numbers (.319/104 runs/41 HR/112 RBI/30 SB/.602 slug) is every bit as impressive as 2011.

Obviously Brian Anderson makes no mention on telecasts why Braun is still a longshot to repeat as MVP.

That is because BA knows he is speaking mostly to the Brewers fan base, who knows all too well the storyline that has existed since last December. The story about Braun’s leaked positive test, the circumstances regarding the alleged result, and Braun’s ultimate acquittal by an arbitrary panel are well documented and do not need additional mention on air.

In the final days of the season the NL MVP battle has slowly become a two-horse race between Braun and San Francisco catcher Buster Posey. The offensive numbers on Posey (.334/76 runs/23 HR/100 RBI/.544 slug) are not as strong as Braun, but Buster gets points for playing a defensive position in addition to being on a team that won its division title.

If I had a vote, I would select Braun by a slight margin considering the above-mentioned facts and also considering the candidacy of Yadier Molina and the fading Andrew McCutchen.

If the task of the Baseball Writers Association of America was to vote for one player only for MVP, similar to how voting is done in the political arena, Braun’s chances would be solid.

But MVP voting is far more involved than that, as voters actually select 10 players, ranking them first through tenth.

Tabulations are done under a points system very similar to what you might see in NASCAR. First-place votes are worth 14 points, second-place votes 9, third-place 8, then down to one point for tenth place. It is a system the BBWAA has had in place since 1938.

It is that 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 format that is going to doom Braun, thanks to the stand you will see from writers who will leave Braun COMPLETELY OFF THE BALLOT.

Here is my hypothetical example on how voting for Posey v. Braun will turn out:

  • Posey – 8 first-place votes, 10 second-place, 8 third-place, 3 fourth-place, 2 fifth-place, 1 sixth-place = 304 total points

  • Braun – 12 first-place votes, 4 second-place, 2 third-place, left off other completely on other 14 ballots = 244 points

In my NASCAR analogy, if I considered each of the 32 NL BBWAA writers as a single NASCAR race, Posey would be the driver who may not win the most but would almost always finish in the top five.

Braun meanwhile would be the driver who might win half of his races but in the others either crash on the first lap or not even be allowed on the race track. In Braun’s case there will be no middle ground with voters – he is either MVP or not under consideration at all.

Even if the BBWAA did a Heisman Trophy-like format of selecting just three players on a 5-3-1 system, Braun might stand a somewhat better chance.

So should Ryan Braun’s reported positive test from last December haunt him in MVP voting this year (and in future years)?

The arguments run both ways.

Here is a recent MLB.com article from Michael Bauman defending Braun, and noting that it would be unfair to hold his situation from last year against him. It is a strong argument – but I should also note that Bauman has been a writer based out of Milwaukee most of his career.

Then there is Jayson Stark’s ESPN piece, penned September 14, where he weighs the chances of Posey, McCutchen, and Braun. In the article Stark puts Braun’s chances of winning at 50-1, mentioning the ballots he is likely to be left off of. Stark closes his article noting a scout he tracked down and asked who thought should be MVP – the scout’s answer was reportedly “anyone but Braun.”

And you know there will be too many of these types among the 32 voters.

Here is the take you would no doubt hear from the Mike Lupica’s and Jeff Passan’s of the world:

How do we know for 100 percent certain Braun wasn’t taking anything THIS YEAR???

What if we vote Braun in and an announced positive test comes down this off-season???

What if Braun tests positive next season?? Or three years from now?? Or any time the rest of his career??

That is the situation that became Braun’s new normal last December – it is a hustle that is never going to end. Never mind that we can safely assume that Braun was tested just like anyone else (and perhaps more for possible previous cause) during the 2012 season.

The saying, “Fool me one shame on you, fool me twice shame on me,” will be applying here.

Or just call it the Lance Armstrong Syndrome – guilty until proven innocent – then probably still guilty.

We will get a better idea on how the exit polling is going to go amongst the 32 writers before the results are announced. Will it be a quarter of the writers who take a stand against Braun? Or a third? 50 percent?

Braun’s best chance of squeezing out a contested MVP award, according to my math, would be to left off of no more than 30% of the ballots, while Posey, Molina and others split the rest of the top votes down the middle. That will be asking a lot.

The final voting results may just be such that the BBWAA may be forced to re-think its version of the electoral college that they have had in place for 75 years. But then again voters, in the past haven’t had to deal with players past PED allegations.

Unfortunately it will likely be sportswiters with opinions and agendas who will decide the 2012 National League Most Valuable Player. Look for Braun to finish somewhere around fourth or fifth.



About Kurt Allen

Have written/blogged about sports since 2000, along with starting my popular Twitter feed in 2009. I also closely follow fantasy sports developments, along with events such as the NFL Draft.

Comments

  1. Well said. It’s a shame we let the most immature, biased people (sports media) vote on these awards. Braun should be MVP.

    • Richard Palmersheim says:

      Exactly. In the America I know, we don’t degrade people for what they didn’t do, unless you have no conscious or are extremely desperate for your personal gain. Braun has the best overall stats in the National League, and if he was taking steroids last year, how come Braun had more home runs in his ROOKIE SEASON with less at-bats and wasn’t even speculated for taking steroids? I mean really, just look at the facts right in front of you, BBWAA.

  2. No the shame is that for all we know, the guy that does get it could also have been wrongly accused of the same thing but none of us would know it! NO ONE should have ever heard that nonsense! The man’s #’s have always been the same! His body is no different than when he was drafted! He’s passed sooo many drug tests and there’s no doubt someone tampered with his sample! He had to clear his name somehow and the fact he did it on a technicality has nothing to do with weather he’s guilty or not! Every player who was found guilty has had a major drop off in production! Everyone that is but Braun! He’s always played this game with the highest amount of integrity and the writers themselves should understand this! How many players have had the same thing happen to them that none of us have found out about? Could be the very same players these moron’s will vote for! This happening to Braun is the biggest shame in recent sports history! He IS THE MVP weather they give it to him or not! Anyone else who wins it can take comfort in knowing it was handed to them by DEFAULT!! Because Braun has the best season going in the National League and that’s a FACT!!!!! ESPN should apologize to Ryan and the entire Brewer fan base for accusing him without knowing weather or not he’s guilty! Because he wasn’t and he proved that this season with his numbers that didn’t fall off like every other player who was guilty! GO BREWERS!!!

  3. PatrickLA says:

    If Matt Kemp had not missed 50 games, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

    • If,If,If…….If I had a million dollars, I’d be rich!! Fact is, Kemp is soft! Every year there’s some excuse why he didn’t win. He barely has a .300 batting average! Give hime 50 more games and it might be lower! How do you know how he would have played. All fiction aside, Braun has put up great #’s since the day he set foot on the field! He never needed help being better. Just like Barry Bonds, he didn’t need to cheat but he did. If Braun took PED’s, he would have hit 70 HR’s this season. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that he was the victim of a tampered sample. He took another test right after and it came up like the other 500 tests(Negative). It was a red flag that he supposedly had the highest levels of testosterone ever! That is evidence that it was tampered with because if it was true, his head would be bigger than Barry’s. The only man (Barry) who’s head grew after the age of 21. Every person tied to PED’s had a big drop in #’s after being caught! All but 1! The guy who was really a victim! Ryan Braun’s integrity is unmatched and it’s a shame that moron’s are trying to ruin a great players career based on lies. The man vindicated himself this year and only an idiot would think otherwise. Some undeserving player will win this award, but real fan’s and all the players know who the TRUE MVP is! No DOUBT it’s Ryan Braun! Just look at his #’s! BTW, he’s passed every test since the tainted one. He’s the best overall player in the game today and he won’t get credit because ESPN had to broadcast something that wasn’t true and now a great man will pay for it! GO BREWERS!!!

  4. Posey actually has a higher OPS+ which accounts for the fact that he plays in a ballpark where it is significantly more difficult to hit in. He was also the leader of a team that many people counted out when Cabrera got busted and they still won their division by a wide margin.

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