Good post from reader backtocali here. What's your take?
The BBWAA voted for King Felix and Lincecum for Cy Young Awards in years where they didnt profile as the typical BBWAA award winner. In 2011 will the BBWAA do the right thing (as they did with the two votes mentioned here) this year, and vote for Matt Kemp as the National League MVP?
Granted, we are only 2/3rds of the way through the 2011 season, but the Dodger Center Fielder is having the most impressive season of any player in the NL, and it shouldn't really matter that he isn't playing on a contender, or that his team is 11 games below .500.
There's no telling how much the MVP voters might discount the fate of the Dodgers, when voting for Kemp as a viable "most valuable player." The last time serious consideration was given to a player from a non contending team (in the NL) was in 2005, when Derrek Lee had his run at the triple crown onoa sub par Cub squad. In the last 20 years the NL BBWAAvoters have given serious consideration to only 2 other players for the MVP award that came from losing teams: 2002 with Sammy Sosa and1995 with Dante Bichette. And we all know about the last time a winner came from a losing team (NL only again) was the 1987 award given to Andre Dawson who played for a Cub team that went 76-85.
Maybe if Matt Kemp were a Cub he would get some votes. This point, as sarcastic as it may seem, sheds more light on why Kemp is andshould get serious MVP consideration this year. Matt Kemp (if he stays on track) will compile his amazing offensive numbers while having played over 72% of his games in pitcher friendly parks. Kemp's closest competition for the award right now is probably Ryan Braun, who plays in a much more hitter friendly park, and has plenty of road games in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Wrigley Field andMinute Maid Park in Houston. In fact, Kemp's 5 closest competitors for the award (Braun, Joey Votto, Justin Uptonand Prince Fielder) play a much higher percentage of games than Kemp does in hitter friendly environments.
Even if you take out the hitter park vs pitcher park argument, Kemp's numbers are just better all aroundthan his competitors for the award. He leads the leage in RBI (on a really bad offensive Dodger squad), he is 2nd in HR and 4thin the league in hitting. So he is obviously doing well in all of the counting stats that the voters like to look at. But he is also doing extremely well with Sabermetricones as well: leading the league in Runs Created, 2nd in WAR (first in WARP and VORP with Baseball Prospectus) and he is 3rd in the league in Win Probability Added.
You could possibly question his "luck" or his defense. His .361 BABIP is in the top 10 in the league, but among players in the hunt for the MVP award, isntall that outside of the norm. And among top MVP candidates, only 4 of them have what Saber-heads like myself would consider good defense (Upton, Matt Holliday, Shane Victorino and Troy Tulowitzki). But the typical MVP voter for the BBWAA doesn't know what BABIP even is, and defense is at the very bottom of their priority list.
So will the voters penalize Kemp for an award he richly deserves simply because the Dodgers are owned by Frank McCourt, and Rafael Furcalwas hurt all year, and James Loneycontinued his slide into irrelevance, and the team couldnt find an MLB caliber catcher to receive the wonderful pitching staff they have on hand? And will they hand deliver the award to a player who plays a ton of games in hitter friendly parks, with numerous games against the 2 worst teams in the league, in the weakest division in the NL andis followed up in the lineup by another MVP candidate? Yes, they probably will, and with extreme prejudice.
As of right now, Matt Kemp is the National League MVP. It's a shame that he will never have the 2011 award on his mantle.