The following is a detailed look at the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player voting:
When Ryan Braun was notified of the NL MVP results, he immediately proceeded to call his mother, his agent, and then Green Bay Packers quarterback and fellow Cali-native Aaron Rodgers, who Braun calls his “best athlete friend.” His message to the leader of the 11-0 Packers was clear: your turn. Rodgers, forever a Wisconsin legend thanks to his Super Bowl XLV MVP performance, has the inside track for the MVP award this season and was happy for his pal. “I’m proud of him,” Rodgers said in an ESPN interview, “he had an incredible season.” Rodgers was also thankful to play in front of the best fans around. “It’s fun to know that he’s going to be in Milwaukee for a long time,” he said. “I’m hopefully going to be here for a long time, and we appreciate the opportunity to play in Wisconsin for sports teams and their fans who really care about their players.” Braun may now have the award, but Rodgers has the title – something Braun craves. “[Rodgers has] accomplished far more in his sport than I have in mine,” stated Braun, “it inspires me to try to get better and ultimately to win a championship of my own for the Milwaukee Brewers.” One day, Milwaukee. One day.
Today was just about the craziest day in baseball that I can remember. So many things were on the line going into the final day of the 2011 season. In some scenarios we would have had the pleasure of watching two one-game playoffs on the same day; that didn’t happen, but here’s some stuff that did:
The Brewers capped their best season in franchise history, becoming the first Brewers squad to earn 96 victories. Their win versus the Pirates also earned them home field for their NLDS match-up against the NL West-Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Yovani Gallardo will start game 1 for Milwaukee at home on Saturday.
Zack Greinke surpassed 200 strikeouts while earning his 16th win of the season Wednesday night; he improved his record at Miller Park this season to 11-0 (the Brewers are 15-0 in Greinke starts at home). Greinke and Yovani Gallardo are the only two teammates in Brewers history to have 200 punch-outs in the same season.
Prince Fielder earned a walk in his final at-bat of 2011. That walk left his batting average for the season at .299, leaving the quest for his first .300 season short once again. The base-on-balls did however give Fielder more walks (107) than strikeouts (106) for the season. Pretty neat.
Ryan Braun did not win the batting title, going 0-for-4 while Jose Reyes got on base via a bunt single in the first and was subsequently pinch-ran for per his request so that his average would remain higher than Braun’s. Bush. League. Braun finished the year at .332, Reyes at .337.
Albert Pujols recorded the first season in his career in which he failed to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs. Pujols finished with a .299 average and 99 RBI.
The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp hit his 39th home run Wednesay; however that left him one short of becoming the fifth player in MLB history to record a 40/40 season.
Following Boston’s knack for collapsing, Adrian Gonzalez (.338) lost the AL batting title to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (.344) after leading the race for almost every single day throughout the year.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde finished the season a perfect 49/49 in saves.
Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox were literally one strike away from a victory, yet the Boston closer ended up blowing the save and allowing Baltimore to win. Three minutes later the Tampa Bay Rays, who had just gotten out of a first and third nobody out situation in the eighth, walked-off with an Evan Longoria homer that squeaked inside the left field foul pole. Tampa Bay was down 7-0 to the Yankees going into the eighth inning, but thanks to sound baseball and a three-run Longoria bomb, the Rays pulled within one going into the ninth. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon pinch-hit Dan Johnson for Sam Fuld with two outs and the bases empty. Johnson was hitting .105 with one home run on the sesason. On a 2-2 pitch, Johnson crushed a home run deep into right field which barely snuck fair for a home run. The Rays were literally one strike away from losing, yet they scratched and clawed their way to an improbable AL Wild Card birth.
And lastly one more word about the NL batting title race I’ve been covering for quite some time… I think this excerpt from Tim Kurkjian’s ESPN.com article titled “Remembering the Amazing Ted Williams” says it best, and keep in mind how Reyes asked to be removed after a first inning bunt single…
“When he got to the final day of the season, a doubleheader at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Williams was hitting .3996, which rounded off to .400. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin gave Williams the option to play that day. Williams said if he couldn’t hit .400 from the beginning to the end of a season, he didn’t deserve it.
“I asked him about that final day,” Gwynn said, “and he said, ‘Hell yeah was I going to play.”’
Williams went 4-for-5 in the first game, the Red Sox overcame an 11-3 deficit to beat the A’s, 12-11, and Williams raised his average to .404. He insisted on playing the second game, and he went 2-for-3 to finish the season at .406. In the doubleheader, with all the pressure of .400, he went 6-for-8. “
That’s what we’re dealing with here. And as they say, 3 is the magic number.
Oh, and Ryan Braun is tied with Jose Reyes for the NL batting title.
The Cardinals beat the Brewers 8-3 Wednesday night at Miller Park. Whatever. Milwaukee holds a 8 1/2 game lead over St. Louis and looks to be a lock for the postseason. Let’s just get to the Braun stuff.
Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a RBI (89) triple (5), raising his batting average to .333. When Braun sliced one into deep center field in the third inning, the ball skipped off the wall and the fielder fell down. Braun had an easy inside-the-park homer, however, he lost his footing coming around third base and fell, quite dramatically, and was subsequently tagged out. Gotta love the guy for hustling. I’m sure it’ll be on ESPN’s not-top 10.
Meanwhile, Jose Reyes went 2-for-4, putting his average at .336.
New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, the National League’s leading hitter, was in the lineup for the second game of a doubleheader Monday against the Florida Marlins. Reyes went 1-for-4, singling to center in his final at-bat to maintain his .336 batting average. Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, who was idle Monday, remains second in the batting title race, hitting at a .334 clip. Cincinnati’s Joey Votto comes in third place at .323. Reyes was activated from the disabled list and had not played since August 7th.
Reyes – .336 (145-for-432) vs. RHP Javier Vazquez: .143 (2-for-14) from ’06-’11
Braun – .334 (152-for-455) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson: .333 (3-for-9) from ’06-’11
Votto – .323 (157-for-486) vs. RHP Roy Halladay: .357 (5-for-14) from ’06-’11
The New York Mets announced that they will be activating shortstop Jose Reyes from the DL for game 2 of their twinbill with the Florida Marlins. Reyes currently leads the National League with a .336 batting average. Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun is second, hitting at a .334 clip.
Casey McGehee deposited three balls into the seats as the Milwaukee Brewers capped a 8-1 homestand with a 10-5 win over the second place Cardinals. McGehee, who had three homers in his previous 355 plate appearances, smacked three out in four at-bats today, giving Milwaukee a three and a half game lead over rival St. Louis and a six and a half game lead over Pittsburgh. Corey Hart also homered while Randy Wolf improved to 8-8 on the season. The Brewers are off Thursday and start a three-game series in Houston on Friday.
Also, take note of SI.com writer Cliff Corcoran’s latest article surrounding the MVP watch in each league, posted below. Corcoran has Ryan Braun ranked #1 with Prince Fielder holding down the #2 spot in the National League race. Stay tuned.
And if you’re keeping track like I am, Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 in the win today, raising his batting average to .324 – good enough for second in the NL (tied with Cincinnati’s Joey Votto). Mets shortstop Jose Reyes sits at .339. Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan is creeping up on averaging 3.1 plate appearances a game, the minimum to qualify for a batting title. T-Plush is hitting .328.