Jobu asks the tough NL MVP question.
You’ll notice I didn’t title this post “Is Ryan Braun the NL MVP” like my AL MVP posts. That wasn’t just a careless lack of continuity on my part. I’m writing this post, not because I think Ryan should or shouldn’t win the award. After last year’s scandal, I’m legitimately confused as to whether or not he deserves the votes or not. It’s got nothing to do with his 2012 numbers though.
As we all know, Braun is actually the reigning NL MVP. He won it in 2011 by hitting .332/.397/.597 with 33 HR, 111 RBI, 109 R and 33 SB. That was up there with one of the best all-around seasons since the “Steroids Era.” Ryan also led the Brewers to the post-season last year, so it was no surprise when he took home the MVP. The surprise came a month or two later, when he was suspended for failing a PED test. Reportedly, Braun had absurd amounts of Testosterone in his urine. We covered that whole debacle on the blog, and you can check it out here.
Braun was eventually cleared, but only because of a technicality. The sample handler had taken his urine sample home and kept it (in his refrigerator with all seals intact) so that he could ship it the following business day. There was no real redemption for Braun, just a technicality that allegedly sent MLB executives into a rage. Either way though, Braun’s suspension was struck from the record and he got to keep playing.
In 2012, he has played. In fact, he’s arguably having his best season. His slash line of .320/.392/.600 is not approached by many. He currently leads the National League with 41 homers, has driven in 112 runs, scored 105 runs and stolen 30 bases again. It is his second consecutive 30/30 season, and the homers are a career high. There is no doubt that Braun has the numbers to be voted MVP for the second consecutive season. But should he be?
That’s where this becomes a tough call. On the one hand, we shouldn’t dwell on the past. Yes, Braun once faced a 50 game suspension and yes, he did escape it only by exploiting a technicality. However, the fact remains that he was, indeed, exonerated. He was found not guilty by an independent arbiter. He also hasn’t failed any tests this season either. It would seem that Braun is clean in 2012 (or he found something else to take).
On the other hand, the way he escaped suspension was so sleazy and unsatisfying that you wonder… did he cheat and get away with it? If you’re in the camp that believes he did, can you really bring yourself to vote for him? I don’t care if he hits 1.000 with 450 homers (you gotta believe they’d start walking him at some point). How much did 2011 and the events of that off-season taint Braun’s legacy?
I thought writing this post would help me make up my mind, but I really can’t say that it has either way. I’m still on the fence. I hate the way his suspension was overturned, but I can’t ignore the fact that it was. He’s clearly one of the best hitters in the National League this year. However, the Brewers didn’t make the playoffs this year either.
That’s pretty much a Godsend for us “on the fence” people when it comes to this argument. I think that, unless your numbers transcend greatness (AKA a Triple Crown, a HR record, etc) you shouldn’t be the MVP if your team is sitting at home in October. I can honestly say that Braun’s numbers, while pretty amazing, aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. For that reason, and that reason alone, I am comfortable saying that Braun shouldn’t win the MVP.
Thanks to the Brewers for making that an easy choice… phew!
Check out Ryan Braun’s 2012 stats.
Featured image courtesy of: Benny Sieu/US Presswire
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