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.
Milwaukee once again has a Most Valuable Player. Ryan Braun received 20 first-place votes to Matt Kemp’s 10 to earn National League MVP honors Tuesday afternoon, becoming the first Brewer to win the award since Robin Yount in 1989. The announcement caps an incredible year for baseball fans in Wisconsin. The Brewers won their first division title in 29 years, set a franchise-record with 96 wins, walked-off to the NLCS in dramatic fashion, and now can say they boast the MVP. Kemp put up some ridiculous numbers, but Braun deserved the award. He led the league in slugging (.597) and OPS (.994), finished second in batting (.332), became only the second Brewer ever to have a 30-30 season (33 homers, 33 steals), plus he drove in 111 runs, scored 109, was an All-Star for the fourth consecutive year, and won his fourth straight Silver Slugger. Brewers’ first baseman Prince Fielder finished third in the balloting. Thank goodness Milwaukee has Ryan Braun inked through 2020, because there isn’t a cooler, classier, or more clutch player in all the land.
Milwaukee’s magical run came to an end with a Game 6 loss to the Cardinals Sunday night. But keep your heads up Brewers fans, the 2011 Brew Crew won the most games in franchise history and the core is coming back: Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, John Axford, etc. will all be around in 2012. As for the humongous pink elephant in the room, Albert Pujols said after the game that he believes Prince Fielder will be a Brewer next season, and he thinks Milwaukee will be back in the NLCS sooner than later.
The Milwaukee Brewers, fresh off a game 1 victory at Miller Park behind their ace Yovani Gallardo, gave the ball to Zack Greinke on short rest and inched a bit closer to their title dream. The Brewers won 9-4 thanks mostly to a five-run sixth inning sparked by Jonathan Lucroy’s go-ahead safety squeeze. Greinke went five innings in his postseason debut, allowing four runs on eight hits (three home runs), no walks and seven strikeouts. Ryan Braun had three hits for the second straight game and launched his first postseason dinger. With Fielder flexing his muscles (he hit a bomb in game 1), Braun hitting .750, and the bullpen pitching lights out, it looks like the next game at Miller Park will be in the National League Championship Series. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Milwaukee’s next game is in Arizona, where they’ll send Shaun Marcum to face Josh Collmenter. As always, Go Brewers! 9 wins away from a World Series title…
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. “
No, that’s not a typo. The Milwaukee Brewers clinched their first division title in 29 years today when they defeated the Marlins 4-1 and the Cubs topped St. Louis 5-1. In an eerily similar scene to 2008, Ryan Braun crushed what turned out to be a game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth with chants of “MVP” coming from the stands. It was an electric atmosphere in Miller Park with the players anxiously watching the Cubs-Cards game on the big screen right along with fans. What a moment for a squad built from the ground up. Teammates Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo and Prince Fielder have experienced all of the ups and downs together over the years. There is not a fan base or group of players around that deserve a division title more. John Axford locked it down in the ninth to tie a franchise record with 44 saves. With a spectacular full-extension diving catch turned double play and a super clutch three-run bomb, Ryan Braun all but locked up the National League MVP award in my opinion. There’s not much more to be said about the Brewers that hasn’t been said already; and with that, Milwaukee fans can look forward to next Saturday when the NLDS begins. Go Brewers!!! 11 wins away from a World Series title…
The New York Yankees became the first team in Major League Baseball history to hit three grand slams in a single game as they took the Oakland Athletics to the woodshed in a 22-9 romp. Robinson Cano started the onslaught with a slam in the fifth. Russell Martin followed with a grand salami of his own the next inning. Finally, Curtis Granderson padded his AL MVP resume with a bases loaded bomb in the eighth. Granderson’s five runs batted in gave him a season total of 103 — the most in all of baseball. His grand slam was his 36th long ball of the year, one shy of Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the Major League lead. The slick center fielder also boasts 20 doubles, 10 triples, and 24 stolen bases; he also has a monstrous lead in runs scored (119), with the next closest competitor, Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury, trailing by a whopping 26 runs (93).
While Milwaukee’s fearsome duo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder battle it out for the NL MVP, Granderson seems to be the AL favorite — but Ellsbury, Bautista, and Adrian Gonzalez all have legitimate shots as well.