If you’ve been a reader of Next Level Ballplayer, you know that I try to make every post “Evergreen Content”, meaning the content will be just as valuable today as someone reading it 3 years from now. With that being said, this post is not that. As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, NLB has been asked to make public our 2011 NL MVP voting, so here it is (AL bonus vote is at the end).
-Must rank the top 10 Players in the NL
My Definition of MVP
-My definition of Most Valuable Player- The best player. Other people can argue all they want, I’m placing my votes for the best players this past season.
How I Determined My Vote
-Watching mass amounts of games during the 2011 season via MLB package. There were multiple days per week that I would have four games going at the same time (Don’t believe me? Ask my wife!). I saw EVERY team play on a regular basis and therefore feel like I can cast my MVP votes beyond thenumbers. I wont provide any stats below, but that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of them.
-Also, I debated my votes with the smartest baseball nerd in the universe and best friend, RV. RV is the guy that knows everything there is to know about advanced metrics, while still having the perspective of someone that has played baseball at a very high level. I trust him and his baseball knowledge with my life.
Without Further Ado, Your 2011 Next Level Ballplayer MVP Picks:
1. Matt Kemp!, Dodgers- One word: Beast. Three words: Does it all. This year he put a down 2010 behind him in a major way. In 2010, he was either hot or cold at the plate, with no in-between. This year, he was hot, and hot and still hot with a beautiful blend of power and average. His majestic opo bombs are one of the most impressive sites in all of baseball. Did I mention he plays a great center field as well? Easily the best ballplayer in the NL this year. As long as he stays away from dating pop stars (no judgment Matt!), this will not be his only MVP trophy.
2. Ryan Braun, Brew Crew- He is known for his home runs and laser beams into the gap, but few recognize him for his ability to swipe bags as well. He’s an all around ballplayer that plays the game well in every facet. It will be interesting to see how his numbers fare next year when he doesn’t have Prince Fielder hitting behind him. None the less, in 2011, Braun was the best player on a really good Brewers team.
3. Justin Upton, D-Backs- Speaking of doing it all (you can see a trend in my top 3 picks) Upton has put to sleep any debate of who’s the best baseball player in his family. Sorry BJ, but Justin had the break out 2011 that everyone thought was possible, but wouldn’t bank on. Upton consistently hit for power and average while playing a solid outfield and swiping bags when needed. I would put him in top 5 power bats in the world right now… Which brings up a sour point- Why didn’t Prince pick Justin to participate in the Home Run Derby?!?! Speaking of Prince…
4. Prince Fielder, Brew Crew- The second best player on his team, but the fourth best player in the NL? Short answer, true. The no longer vegetarian Fielder had the monster year that is going to get him Pujols money for sure. His power bat always seemed to come up big late in close games, and even though people consider him a “big dude”, the guy always hustles. I appreciate hustle from superstars… Especially BIG superstars.
5. Jose Reyes, Mets- Regardless of his shady last game of the year antics to win the batting title (bunting for a single in his first AB and then taking himself out of the game), if Reyes stays healthy all year, he is much higher on this list. Arguably the most exciting player in the Bigs on offense as well as defense. His 2011 season made you want a camera on him the entire game as he seemed to play at a different speed than anyone else. It will be interesting to see where he will end up next season.
6. Albert Pujols, Cards- There was a point this season where I questioned whether the great Albert might actually be on decline. He answered by returning to his “machine” status after a slow start. His discipline at the plate and deep knowledge of the strike zone makes him not just a power threat, but one of the toughest outs in the Bigs. Now let the off season contract drama begin. If the Cards lose the World Series AND Pujols, this could be one of the worst off seasons for any team in the history of baseball.
7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies- His almost non existence over the last month or so of the season (Injury bugs) almost caused him to fall out of my top 10. With that being said, I won’t forget his monster numbers and ability to get hot in the summer like nobody else. If you had to pick the most likely player to hit 10 homeruns in any given two week span, I would pick him every time. On top of his incredible bat, he is a treat to watch in the field as well. His range and absolute hose of an arm put him solidly in my 7 spot.
8. Pablo Sandoval, Giants- Is there a more exciting play in baseball, than when “The Panda” hits a ball deep into San Fran’s right field gap and digs for a triple? No chance. This exact play led to possibly my favorite call by an announcer of all time. “There’s a drive into the gap. It’s gonna get to the wall! The panda is on the loose! THE PANDA IS ON THE LOOSE!! HE’S GOING FOR THIRD!!! Annnnnnnnnnnd he’s in there!” Sandoval is another guy that would be higher on this list had he stayed healthy. Even with a dismal offense, Sandoval almost single handedly carried them after Posey was lost for the year. Giant fans are hoping for a repeat.
9. Joey Votto, Reds- He quietly remained one of the most feared hitters in baseball, while kinda staying under the rader. I can’t remember a defending MVP with less fanfare. Maybe it’s because the Reds couldn’t stay in contention for the NL Central crown or maybe it’s because he’s Canadian. Either way, the dude flat out rakes and plays a solid first base. I should be in the MVP running for years to come. It will be interesting to see if the Reds’ young prospects can come alongside and help them get back to the playoffs next year.
10. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies- Cargo continues the theme of great seasons that would have been even better if he could have stayed healthy. He recovered from an uncharacteristically slow first half of the season to put up really impressive numbers. By purely looking at his numbers, you’d think he had a really solid year. Reality, when he was healthy in the middle to late part of the season, he raked. The other thing I like about him is the amount of ground he covers in the outfield combined with a laser of an arm. A legit five tool ballplayer, a full healthy year of Cargo next year will spell trouble for NL pitchers.
Oh and if you’re wondering about my AL picks, here is my top 10 without explanation:
2011 AL MVP Picks
1. Jose “I drop bombs whether I know what’s coming or not” Bautista, Blue Jays
2. Jacoby “I wasn’t supposed to be the best player on my team, but I am” Ellsbury, Red Sox
3. Curtis “I love the short porch in Yankee Stadium” Granderson, Yankees
4. Miguel “I’ll drink what I want to and still rake” Cabrera, Tigers
5. Robinson “I hit bombs off everybody, including my dad” Cano, Yankees
6. Justin “I’m so good, I cause major MVP voting drama and debates” Verlander, Tigers
7. Adrian “Nobody swings out of their shoes more than me” Beltre, Rangers
8. Adrian “Unlike Carl, I’m worth the money” Gonzalez, Red Sox
9. Mike “Does anybody know that I hit .320 with 30 bombs?” Napoli, Rangers
10. Alex “Best everyday catcher in the AL” Avila, Tigers.
So there you have it. If you agree or disagree, feel free to leave your comments in the comment section below. Who did I shaft and who did I pump up too much?