Let’s talk about you and me…and how we may never see an MVP in San Diego, but we can enjoy their successes vicariously. I know you were afraid I was going to continue my parody of a 90’s pop song (“Let’s Talk About Sex Baby” by Salt N Pepa for you lucky few who have no idea what I’m talking about), but instead we will focus on the 2011 MVP’s, what they mean for baseball, and if it means anything for the Padres.
First, Justin Verlander was announced AL MVP in a vote that shocked half the baseball world and pacified the other half. Then, yesterday, Ryan Braun was named NL MVP in a vote that will be tough to argue no matter what those in the Matt Kemp camp have to say.
Verlander’s selection shows a shift toward old school voting mentality. In the distant past, an MVP vote for a pitcher was not all too uncommon. Now though, it’s blasphemous. Now I’ll admit, I’m of the belief the the Hank Aaron award is not given enough press or prestige, so there is not an award specific for the best hitter in the league. There IS an award for the best pitcher, the Cy Young. However, the logic behind Verlander’s selection is sound. If we’re talking about the one player in baseball who single-handedly contributed the most to his team, I’d agree Verlander was that guy. His numbers say it all. I’m well aware the career numbers do not factor into the MVP voting, but Verlander just keeps getting better.
|2005||11||2||.846||1.29||20||2||0||118.2||81||20||17||4||136||6.1||0.3||2.0||10.3||5.23||LAK,ERI · FLOR,EL|
|162 Game Avg.||18||10||.652||3.54||34||2||1||225||198||95||88||20||208||124||7.9||0.8||2.8||8.3||2.96|
Bruan’s win is less surprising. He dominated and helped the Brewers to a division crown, their first since 1982. Here’s how he fared against some of the other NL MVP candidates.
While Braun didn’t win any of these categories, he was second or third in all of them. Add his glove and his base-stealing ability, and you have your NL MVP.
From a baseball perspective the voting probably doesn’t mean much. Does it mean pitchers have a better shot at winning the MVP chance going forward? Sure. Does it mean voters are changing their mindsets as a whole? Probably not. It does give us something new to debate. Leading up to the end of the season, people made their cases for Verlander, but no one really seemed to believe it was possible. Now, though, pitchers are fair game in the season-long debate for who will win the MVP awards.
On the Padres side of things, the case for MVP becomes even more interesting. Verlander’s selection means that had Aaron Harang won 20+ games and got the Padres to the postseason, he would be considered. It means closers are now free to be selected again. It means Heath Bell could have saved 60 games and helped the Padres to a play-off spot and garnered some MVP attention. It means pitchers like Mat Latos and Tim Stauffer have a chance to gain some consideration for their peripheral numbers. It means we have new possibilities to dream of for our beloved Padres and their quest for an MVP.
Ryan Braun’s MVP does help those players with an all-around game get more focus. The MVP vote should not be about one offensive category, and Braun’s selection proves the writers understand that. This gives hope to young Padres looking to make a name for themselves with offense, defense, and base-running.
The fact is, a Padre will have little chance at an MVP for quite some time. Yet, this season’s MVP’s have proven voters can still surprise us, and anything is possible.