Although Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp was a strong favorite to win, coming just short of the Triple Crown, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has won the NL Most Valuable Player Award on Tuesday after helping lead the Brewers to their first division title in 29 years.
Braun beat out Kemp, receiving 20 of 32 first-place votes and 388 points from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, while Kemp received 10 first-place votes and 332 points. Braun's teammate Prince Fielder received a first-place vote as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks' Justin Upton.
By season's end, Kemp had ousted Braun in homeruns (39 to 33) and RBIs (126 to 111), but Braun helped his case by leading the NL with a .597 slugging percentage and being second in the NL with a .332 batting average with a chance to overtake New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes for the batting title on the last day of the season. He also stole 33 bases and had 77 extra-base hits, which was tops in the league.
The Dodgers ending the season just three games over .500, good for third in the NL West, also partly warranted Kemp not winning the award despite the better numbers at homeruns and RBIs, more notable statistics.
Braun, 28, is the first ever Brewer to win the MVP award in the National League and the first since Robin Yount won in 1989, when Milwaukee was in the AL East. He is the fourth Brewer in total to win the award, with Yount also winning in 1982 and Rollie Fingers winning in 1981.
Braun, like Kemp, received a huge contract extension this year, signing a five-year, $105 million extension in April. Kemp was recently signed to an eight-year, $160 million dollar extension.
The 2007 NL Rookie of the Year has hit at least 25 homers in his last five seasons, all with Milwaukee, and 2011 was his fourth straight season with more than 100 RBIs. He hit a three-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth inning on Sept. 23 against the then Florida Marlins to clinch the division title for the Brewers, whose postseason run eventually ended in the NLCS against the now World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2.