Ryan Braun won the MVP award last week.
There is an argument to be made, a very good one in fact, that Matt Kemp should have won the MVP award. He had more homeruns, more steals, played a tougher position, had a better WAR and a bunch of other stuff too. Matt Kemp had a great season and if you said he should have won the MVP I wouldn't argue with you too much. These two players were very close statistically and either choice was a good one.
The justification that many are using for the choice of Braun over Kemp is that the Ryan Braun played on a playoff team and Matt Kemp didn't. This speaks to the question of what exactly the word "valuable" in Most Valuable Player is supposed to mean. Many writers who vote on these awards take the word valuable and equate it with wins and losses. Since the Brewers won a ton more games than the Dodgers that made Ryan Braun more "valuable" than Matt Kemp. This is a simple argument that is backed up by years of MVP voting going to players from winning team. It is not wrong to think this and since the word "valuable" has never been properly defined by Major League Baseball it is hard to fault the writers for voting this way. It's just the way it's always been and the way it will always be. Winners get more credit.
However, this is not why I believe Ryan Braun won the MVP. It helped, sure, but it is not the real reason that Braun was chosen over Matt Kemp. The reason I submit to you as the reason Ryan Braun won the MVP is simple: The World Belongs To Ryan Braun.
Ryan Braun, for lack of a better term, is the man. Everyone who watches him play loves him. Everyone who comes into contact with him loves him. Just look at the tweets:
Matt Kemp knows what up. When it comes down to you and Ryan Braun, you will lose. No matter who you are.
Every other team in the league wishes they had him on their team. He is on everyone's shortlist of "best players in the game" and if everything goes right he will go down in history as the greatest Milwaukee Brewer of all time. Nobody denies this. Everyone knows how special a baseball player and how special a person Ryan Braun is.
Ryan Braun has reached that special place where he can do no wrong. He's at the point now where no matter what he is hitting come the All-Star break he will be in the top 5 of voting and a shoe-in for starting outfielder every single season, even if he doesn't play a single game. He will go in the top five of every single fantasy baseball draft and everyone will be jealous of the guy that got him. People will bid too much for him in auctions and not feel bad about it. You will see his jersey in rap videos and not blink an eye. Ryan Braun is to the Milwaukee Brewers and MLB today what Ken Griffey Jr. was to the Seattle Mariners and MLB in the 90s. He's a pop culture icon in the world of professional baseball. He is Brad Pitt. He is The Rock. He is Jay-Z. He is Han Solo. There will be Milwaukee Brewers fans popping up all across the country because of him. Non-baseball fans will know who he is and love him. "I don't like the Brewers, but I love Ryan Braun." will be said by fans of other teams. Female celebrities will try and fail to attain him. Ryan Braun is the man.
I think when the argument of who should have been the 2011 MVP comes up years from now, we will look back and laugh. How could it not have been Ryan Braun? He was the face of a generation. The king of the 2010's. The one who could do no wrong. He was the man and the world belonged to him.
And he's a Brewer.