Okay. I’m calm.
I ranted hard in this space not that long ago about how I’d feel if Ryan Braun were somehow voted outside of the Top 3 by anyone entrusted with submitting a ballot. (Four out of the 32 writers who voted on the award this year did position Braun fourth, but more on that later.)
In the end, logic and reason appear to have won the day over vengeance and retribution…at least on the surface they did.
The final and official results of the voting for the Most Valuable Player in the National League for the 2012 season found 27 first-place votes for the winner, San Francisco’s Buster Posey. Braun received three first-place votes, 15 second-place votes, 10 third-place votes and four fourth-place votes. That quick math adds up to 32 votes which means Braun did appear on all ballots cast. That’s a good thing for my sanity.
Unfortunately, the writers had a perfect foil to Braun’s candidacy.
Buster Posey led the San Francisco Giants to a NL West Division championship. He performed incredibly well down the stretch in pressure-filled games. He soldiered on after his teammate quite unceremoniously dropped the mantle of “best hitter” on the team when Melky Cabrera was suspended halfway through the season. Posey plays a defensive position which is normally considered more valuable than left field. 2010: Healthy Buster Posey, Giants win World Series. 2011: Injured Buster Posey, Giants miss playoffs. 2012: Healthy Buster Posey, Giants win division (by the time the ballots were due), Posey “wins” batting title.
When the Brewers fell short in their crusade to reach the postseason, it truly was a perfect storm against Braun.
But, like I’ve said many times throughout this off-season, I can understand a vote for Posey. It would have really tanned my hide had Braun not finished at least second. I’m quite pleased, though hardly happy or satisfied, that the majority of voters showed integrity in the ballots.
Do I think that some voters who supported Posey would have voted for Braun instead had these exact same seasons happened two years ago? I do. It would have been a much closer race without everything that happened last off-season. There is no question.
But again, other than trying to understand how you can vote Andrew McCutchen second and Ryan Braun fourth (as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review did) as an example, I can’t muster the vitriol nor do I feel it necessary to organize an angry mob based on these results.
Ryan Braun has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. His was a fantastic season, one which should have earned him the Hank Aaron Award, but also one which can be argued he finished appropriately in the vote measuring the subjective description of “value”.
Congratulations to Buster Posey. Congratulations to AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.
That said, 2013 is an entirely new campaign, one which will hopefully see Ryan Braun get even better.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the face that Aramis Ramirez received enough votes to finish 9th overall in total points. Ramirez got one fifth-place vote, one sixth-place vote, four seventh-place, six eighths, and one ninth.
Congrats to Aramis Ramirez!
Of note, the Brewers were the only team to have two players finish in the Top 10 of voting.
Wednesday evening, MLB Network aired a show which laid out the “finalists” for the major awards in baseball as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
(Click here for my pre-show rant.)
On the show they revealed the “finalists” for the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Most Valuable Player awards for each major league.
Five names were rattled off in alphabetical order by surname. Coming in with a “B” and first position was the reigning Most Valuable Player in the National League, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun.
As I state in my aforementioned pre-show rant, it is assumed that the “finalists” for each award are simply the top vote-getters. If this is indeed the case, it means that some semblance of sanity has shown up in the pens of the baseball scribes of the National League. It means that Ryan Braun is in the top five.
On MLB Network’s broadcast, analyst Harold Reynolds (a former MLB player for the Seattle Mariners) stated that if you simply looked at the numbers that Ryan Braun should win the MVP for a second consecutive season. He also stated, however, that given Braun’s previous off-season along with everything that goes into voters deciding who to cast their vote for, the winner would be San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.
I can understand that vote. What I wasn’t going to able to understand is if the collective somehow viewed Ryan Braun as outside of the Top 5, let alone the Top 10 (meaning that he received mention on every ballot cast).
Other than Braun and Posey, the “finalists” for NL MVP are: Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen, and Yadier Molina.
Given that information, is there any doubt that Ryan Braun should finish outside the Top 2? Go ahead and leave a comment with your argument for anybody other than Posey finishing ahead of Braun and I’ll give you the staunch counterargument to your logic.
Bottom line is that while we may feel Braun deserves to win the award outright, that he is still assured a Top 5 finish is something of a surprise given the reasons I laid out in my rant piece.
But now? Now I’m greedy and I want Top 2.
For the sake of posterity, here are the finalists for the other awards including the Top 3in NL Rookie of the Year, which many of us hoped would include Norichika Aoki.
American League: David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver
National League: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw
Manager of the Year:
American League: Bob Melvin (A’s), Buck Showalter (Orioles), Robin Ventura (White Sox)
National League: Dusty Baker (Reds), Bruce Bochy (Giants), Davey Johnson (Nationals)
Rookie of the Year:
American League: Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout
National League: Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley
American League: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout
The Hank Aaron Awards were given out recently. One winner from each league is chosen and, prior to Game 3 of the World Series, the respective American and National League winners of the award were honored in an on-field ceremony at Detroit’s Comerica Park.
Fittingly enough, the home team’s third baseman, Miguel Cabrera, was selected as the winner in the American League. He earned the Triple Crown in the AL which no doubt factored in heavily.
The winner in the National League was also present, of course, but because he was set to play in the game that evening as well. Buster Posey of the NL Champion San Francisco Giants was named as the winner for the senior circuit, much to the confusion of yours truly.
Don’t get it twisted, Buster Posey had a fine year. A year which arguably saw him as the most valuable player in his league. But “value”, as it is argued in baseball circles, is not the goal of the Hank Aaron Award. The Hank Aaron Award is described thusly, as lifted from MLB.com:
“This coveted honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in both the American League and National League. Originally introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.”
Did you catch that part about the “best overall offensive performer”? It’s right there in the first sentence. If you missed it, go ahead back and read it again.
Buster Posey, ladies and gentlemen, was not the National League’s best overall offensive performer in the 2012 regular season. He “won” the batting title after his teammate Melky Cabrera asked to be made an exception to the qualifications of the title, this is true, but as we all know from 2011 simply winning the batting title doesn’t garner you the Hank Aaron Award. Otherwise Jose Reyes would have been shaking hands with Hank Aaron instead of Matt Kemp.
So how exactly does one get selected as the “best overall offensive performer” anyway? Well, part of the problem is that there isn’t anything “exact” about it.
As currently constructed, fan voting counts for 50% of the vote while a five-man panel that consisted of Aaron, and fellow Hall of Fame members Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount make up the other half.
We all know after the debacle that was the All-Star Game voting this year that Giants fans know how to stuff a ballot box, but the fact that the fans can even influence this award at all is ridiculous. Fans are biased.
“But aren’t you just being a biased Brewer fan by writing this in the first place?”
Fair question, but that helps make my point. In it being a necessity to have evidentiary support for my point as to maintain some semblance of neutrality in this matter, the statistics do all the backing up needed.
Here are the full-season stat lines for both Braun and Posey. See if you can guess which line was produced by which player.
Player A: .336/.408/.549, 178 H, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 39 2B, 1 3B, 69 BB, 96 K, 172 OPS+, 1 SB, 78 R
Player B: .319/.391/.595, 191 H, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 36 2B, 3 3B, 63 BB, 128 K, 159 OPS+, 30 SB, 108 R
Again I’ll state that Posey, Player A above, had a terrific offensive season. He really did. However, when comparing Posey’s line to that of Braun’s (yes, Player B), how can you argue superiority for the Giants’ catcher?
The biggest issue is that we’ll never know how close it was nor how the voting played out among the five-man panel, but in the opinion of this avid baseball fan, there are shenanigans afoot.
It seems obvious that the collective consciousness of certain individuals is still flawed as it is at best heavily influenced by a scientifically-invalid urine sample from 12 months ago.
That’s a shame and those men who have allowed it to cloud their judgment, influence their analysis, and apparently ultimately impact their award voting should be so ashamed.
Those last two sentences apply even more so to the BBWAA members charged with honoring a player as most valuable.
We’ll just have to see where the winter takes us and when another year of excellence is produced by a certain Brewers superstar, perhaps the fog of confusion can begin to dissipate.
For now, the results of the 2012 Hank Aaron Award voting has left me under that same fog’s veil.