I can’t remember a season in recent memory when the MVP races in both leagues were so hotly debated. Two reasons for this: one, there are many deserving candidates (none of whom, presumably, are juiced up sluggers); and two, each league has a wildcard. In the AL, it’s a pitcher, Justin Verlander, and in the NL, it’s a triple crown threat on a bad team, Matt Kemp. Both of these guys complicate matters in the eyes of many, but I think the call is an easy one.
In the AL. Verlander gets my nod. I’m not of the school that pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP. Verlander has not only been the most valuable player in the league, he’s been the best player, pound for pound, in the AL. So if you can’t decide whether the MVP should go to most valuable or the best player (yes, I refer to pitchers as “players”), the Tigers’ ace satisfies both your needs. He’s had arguably the best year by a starting pitcher in more than a decade and deserves the Cy Young and MVP.
In the NL, Kemp has contended for the triple crown all year and is certainly worthy of consideration. But I am of the school that the award should go to a player on a contending team, of which the Dodgers have not been since April. The only exception to this rule is if the player in question is so overwhelmingly the best player and nobody else really asserts themselves (see: Andre Dawson, 1987). Kemp may well be the best player in the NL this year and very valuable to his team, but I believe that someone who excels all year for a contending team rates higher. It’s just more of an accomplishment to put up big numbers in the heat of a pennant race. Of course, I never played the game and you could argue that I have no idea what it’s like to perform for any team under any conditions, but trust me on this one. After all, I’m a respected blogger with tens of devoted followers.
So my vote goes to Ryan Braun — who, by the way,would be the first Jewish NL MVP since Sandy Koufax in 1963. He’s been money from start to finish for the Brewers and his numbers are very close to Kemp in all categories (except strikeouts, where Kemp has fanned almost twice as much). He may end of splitting votes with teammate Prince Fielder, thereby opening the door for Kemp, but he is most deserving in my eyes. Now if Kemp could find a way to rid LA of Frank McCourt, then he would surely get my vote.