Ryan Braun (surprisingly?) finishes 2nd in NL MVP voting | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

In 2012, Ryan Braun was first in the NL in OPS. First in total bases. First in home runs. First in slugging. First in ISO. First in WPA/LI. First in wOBA. Tied for first in wRC+.

And second in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

Of course, there may be extenuating circumstances. About 11 months ago, news about Braun’s failed drug test leaked before the appeal process was completed. The ensuing circus lasted for the rest of the winter and while Braun won his appeal, many thought he got away with something. Perhaps it played a role in the voting. Maybe it didn’t.

The result of Braun’s winter of discontent was a year of everyone talking about how there was no way Braun would be able to repeat as NL MVP. It appears most Brewers fans were resigned to this before the results were announced.

This is purely subjective, but there are very few people that could have handled the entire situation the way Braun did. He had the…confidence, let’s say…to block everything out, basically say “Haters Gonna Hate” and not only duplicate his MVP performance from a year ago, but actually improve on those numbers.

We generally don’t like to use the “pressure” argument in MVP races here, but no one in baseball had more pressure to perform well — maybe even better than he did last year — than Braun. Forget that 2011 could have been a career year. Or that with Prince Fielder gone, he was the main (and early in the season, the only) offensive threat in the Brewers’ lineup. Any time Braun would slump, the PED questions were going to come up. Braun’s solution? Simply don’t slump.

All of this is not to say he was the clear choice as MVP this year. Buster Posey was a legitimate candidate. Brewers fans shouldn’t assume every vote for Posey was one to spite Braun. It’s entirely possible many saw Posey and Braun as being tied, and the Giants’ postseason berth is what broke the tie — basically how the Braun-Matt Kemp tie was broken last year.

The fact that Braun was even named a “finalist” for the award — cluing everyone in that he was among the top five vote-getters — was a bit of a surprise, given how much the blackballing was anticipated. In the end, Braun was named on every ballot, and appeared no lower than 4th. His four fourth-place votes came from Rob Biertempfel (Pittsburgh chapter of the BBWAA), Hirokazu Higuchi (Los Angeles), Clark Spencer (Miami) and Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago). Braun’s only first-place votes came from Milwaukee’s own Tom Haudricourt and Todd Rosiak, along with Doug Padilla (Chicago).

Braun had what may become the best season of his career and only has a Silver Slugger to show for it, but there’s no shame in finishing second in an MVP race. At the very least, there were enough NL voters that either didn’t care about what happened last winter, or were rational enough to come to the conclusion that what happened last season should have no bearing on voting for this season. Braun didn’t come away with the award, but it looks like by and large we were spared the moralizing and finger-pointing.

UPDATE: A breakdown of how Braun’s votes fell:

1st Place:
Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee
Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee
Doug Padilla, Chicago

2nd Place:
Andrew Baggarly, San Francisco
Bill Brink, Pittsburgh
Amanda Comak, Washington
Jon Heyman, Atlanta
Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia
Zachary Levine, Houston
Hal McCoy, Cincinnati
Bob Nightengale, Arizona
Nick Piecoro, Arizona
Ken Rosenthal, Washington
Henry Schulman, San Francisco
Joel Sherman, Houston
Jayson Stark, Philadelphia
Joe Strauss, St. Louis
Tom Verducci, Atlanta

3rd Place:
Rick Hummel, St. Louis
John Maffei, San Diego
Andy McCullough, New York
Scott Miller, San Diego
Troy Renck, Colorado
Tracy Ringolsby, Colorado
Juan C. Rodriguez, Miami
C. Trent Rosencrans, Cincinnati
Adam Rubin, New York
Mark Saxon, Los Angeles

4th Place:
Rob Biertempfel, Pittsburgh
Hirokazu Higuchi, Los Angeles
Clark Spencer, Miami
Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago

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