Brief Thoughts on the NL MVP Award

Ryan Braun took home the National League Most Valuable Player award yesterday, nudging out Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the presumed favorite. Both rWAR and fWAR had Kemp in the lead. Baseball Reference considered Kemp the better hitter, while FanGraphs had him just slightly behind Braun. It’s not exactly an upset but the results will certainly lead to some interesting conversation and debate.

Overall, the ballot wasn’t terrible, but there were a few surprises. The most glaring finish was Ryan Howard in 10th place, just 13 points behind Roy Halladay. Halladay, of course, was expected to be a heavy contender for the NL Cy Young award after posting the best season of his career. Meanwhile, Howard had arguably the worst season of his career. Still, he hit 33 home runs and drove in 116 runs, which seems to be good enough for BBWAA voters. Of all 26 players that received votes, Howard had the second-lowest rWAR (2.7, tied with reliever John Axford and ahead of shortstop Starlin Castro). Howard’s rWAR was by far the lowest among players in the top-15. Even among his own teammates, Howard had the ninth-best rWAR, with just 0.2 more than Hunter Pence and John Mayberry, Jr. despite 350-400 more plate appearances.

After beating out Halladay for the NL Cy Young award, Kershaw somehow finished behind Halladay in NL MVP voting with 29 points, which included just one fifth place vote and one sixth place vote.

Along with Howard and Halladay, four other Phillies received votes: Shane Victorino (13th, 18 points), Cliff Lee (15th, 12 points), Pence (16th, 10 points), and Carlos Ruiz (23rd, 1 point).

As with any award, the down-ballot nominees are pretty much irrelevant, so there’s nothing worth getting flustered over.

The full results:

Player, Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Points
Ryan Braun, Brewers 20 12 388
Matt Kemp, Dodgers 10 16 6 332
Prince Fielder, Brewers 1 4 11 9 1 3 2 1 229
Justin Upton, D-backs 1 8 11 6 3 1 1 1 214
Albert Pujols, Cardinals 1 6 11 6 4 2 166
Joey Votto, Reds 4 3 2 8 3 3 4 1 135
Lance Berkman, Cardinals 1 2 6 3 7 2 4 3 118
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 3 4 8 5 4 69
Roy Halladay, Phillies 1 1 1 6 2 3 52
Ryan Howard, Phillies 1 3 1 1 1 3 39
Jose Reyes, Mets 1 1 3 4 3 31
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 1 1 2 5 2 29
Shane Victorino, Phillies 3 3 3 18
Ian Kennedy, D-backs 1 2 1 16
Cliff Lee, Phillies 2 1 1 12
Hunter Pence, Astros/Phillies 1 1 1 10
Pablo Sandoval, Giants 1 1 7
John Axford, Brewers 1 2 7
Michael Morse, Nationals 1 1 5
Carlos Beltran, Mets/Giants 1 3
Miguel Montero, D-backs 1 2
Yadier Molina, Cardinals 2 2
Starlin Castro, Cubs 1 1
Craig Kimbrel, Braves 1 1
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies 1 1
Mike Stanton, Marlins 1 1

Source: BBWAA.com