Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dodger Fans, Stop Whining

I've had it with the whining.

Dodgers fans are way off base, on a non-stop whining binge about Milwaukee's Ryan Braun winning the MVP over their beloved Matt Kemp. No doubt, this whining will continue all throughout the winter. Unfortunately Braun, who lives in Malibu, can't escape it.

What Dodgers fans are so angry about is that Kemp had superior numbers but still lost. Kemp bested Braun in home runs, RBIs, stolen bases and on-base percentage. Braun, however, came out on top in just one major stat category--slugging percentage.  What's more, whine LA fans, Kemp is a better defensive player. He's a Gold Glove center fielder while Braun is just an average left fielder.

So how did he win?

Simple, by being top dog in a category that's not supposed to figure in the voting decision but figures heavily anyway. Braun was the best player on a winning (96 victories) playoff team while Kemp's Dodgers won only 82 games--barely over .500--and missed the playoffs.

When casting their votes, members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America are supposed to ignore team standings. It's a well known fact that a statement on the ballot cautions them to do just that. It's also a well-known fact that the voters totally disregard that caution. It's tradition.

Here's how the thinking goes. To the writers,  the valuable in "most valuable" means valuable to a post-season team. A player who puts up big numbers in a tense playoff run is supposedly a bigger asset than one who stars on a team that goes nowhere. Players on non-playoff teams have won the MVP award, but they're the exceptions.

Since the Dodgers were out of the playoff hunt pretty early, Kemp was working in a relatively relaxed atmosphere and could focus on building up his stats. Braun, though, didn't have that luxury and consequently deserves more credit. He also gets extra points for being a force on a winning team. This is the standard thinking anyway.

Dodger fans look at the situation differently. They gripe that Kemp had it rough, that he was a diamond in a lineup filled with coal and it's tougher to shine under those circumstances. Braun, they charge, had it comparitively easy. He was a surrounded by gems. In fact he got a considerable boost from batting ahead of one, Prince Fielder, who was in the thick of the MVP race. No doubt that Prince's "protection" pumped up Braun's numbers.

But, Dodger fans, here's a major point. Kemp's and Braun's numbers were basically in the same range. For Kemp to make up for the Dodgers being out of the playoff hunt most of the season, he would have needed monster numbers--numbers that would have dwarfed Braun's. But Kemp did post those overwhelming stats.

Consequently he lost. He couldn't buck tradition. What happened, Dodger fans, was that local media, unfortunately and unfairly, built up your hopes, constantly insisting he might win. But, realistically, Kemp never had a chance.

So, Dodger fans, deal with it and stop whining.