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My NL MVP ballot

Nov 22, 2011, 7:36 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ryan Braun's fantastic season for the Brewers earned my MVP vote.

There are few rights and privileges given to members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America more important than the opportunity to vote for the sport's top awards: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year.

And I think we all would agree the crown jewel of all the awards is the MVP.

So it was my honor to be one of two members of the Baltimore-Washington chapter of the BBWAA to be given a ballot for this year's NL MVP. It wasn't the first time I've voted for this award, but it was one of the tougher races I've had to help decide.

The competition between the top two contenders for the award — the Brewers' Ryan Braun and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp — was fierce. ThereRead more »

  1. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    I cannot believe you didn't vote for Morse!!

  2. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 22, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    And who on Mark's list would you bump for Morse?

  3. FS - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    For the first time, I completely disagree with you on something Mark. Just because Kemp is surrounded by insignificant pieces (except Kershaw and Ethier to a certain extent), no reason to penalize him. Kemp was the better player last season.

  4. Eugene in Oregon - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Mark,Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I notice you included two pitchers on your ballot, which I assume means you have no problem with pitchers being considered MVP-worthy. Just wondering what you think you would likely have done if you had been voting for AL MVP? I have no problem with Verlander having won, but I know that a lot of folks take the no-pitchers view. Your thoughts?

  5. FS - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Also if you were voting for Cy Young, you would have voted for Halladay instead of Kershaw?

  6. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Thanks, Eugene. You're right that I don't have a problem giving the MVP to a pitcher, if one has a truly remarkable season and there's no clear-cut position player deserving of the award. So given that, yes, I would have given AL MVP to Verlander this year.For FS: I actually would have voted Kershaw over Halladay for Cy Young. Yes, that's flip-flopped from how I had them on my MVP ballot. But I look at Cy Young in a different light. Cy Young, to me, goes to the best pitcher, regardless of who he played for or what his personal situation was. MVP goes to the most VALUABLE player. And in this case, I would argue Halladay was slightly more valuable than Kershaw was.Also, just to add one point about my MVP choice that I should have included in the original post: It's not simply that Braun happened to play for a playoff team while Kemp played for a non-contender. It's that Braun was a major contributor to a playoff team and raised his performance in big situations in big games (I think back to his late, three-run homer in the Brewers' clinching victory). So I would argue that Braun edged out Kemp in part because of how he performed in the highest-pressure situations.

  7. NatinBeantown - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    This belongs in the last post, but I couldn't resist: forget the fact that he's left-handed, or his track record, or his interleague win-loss record. Think only of the potential for this:"Put another Buehrle W in the books!"

  8. gonatsgo - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Have the sabermetricians come up with a way to measure "clutch" , yet? Braun seems like a truly clutch guy all the time, as well as very intense and smart. Good choice. AFL over, awards done, cba announced – time to move on to the winter meetings! Keep the news coming, Mark – we are starving for it.

  9. Emily Litella - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Can't they just count the number of times the guy adjusts himself each game? Why do they need to invent some fancy new stat for that?Oh, I guess that's not the "clutch" you were talking about. Never mind.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    Just finished reading the changes to the new CBA and Davey's going to be one ornery sunuvagun without his chewing tobacco.

  11. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Based on their respective lineups, who do you think was pitched around more, Kemp or Braun?

  12. Theophilus - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    The distinction that favors Kemp over Braun, in my mind, is the ballpark and division Kemp plays in. Kemp plays 99 games in Chavez Ravine, Petco, and whatever they call the Giants' stadium. Except for RF in SF, nothing that goes out in any of those parks is a gimmee. Braun plays 99 games in Miller Field, Wrigley, and whatever they call the Astros' stadium. Everything in those parks goes "Woosh" over the wall.Does it make Braun more valuable that Milwaukee won, and that the difference Kemp made in the Dodgers was the difference between mediocre and terrible? Imagine the Phillies the year Steve Carlton won 27 of their 54 victories. Who was the most valuable player in the league that year.Braun is a really, really good player. However, I think he has fed a lot off of Fielder. Let's see if he can keep the Brewers afloat after Fielder leaves.

  13. NatinBeantown - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    Theophilus – don't forget Great American Ballpark, where the warning track is about where Belliard used to play 2nd for the Nats.Mark's case is imminently defensible. There's a strong case for Kemp, too. We can, and should, talk about it, both online and bellied up to your bar of choice. I love baseball.

  14. Harper_ROY_2012 - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Kemp deserved it more, you unfornately fell into the my team is better than yours trap rather than choosing a true MVP.

  15. RPrecupjr - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    Just looking at raw stats:Braun: 58 walks, 2 intentionalKemp: 74 walks, 24 intentionalMy interpretation of this is that Kemp was intentionally walked more because he had minimal protection behind him, whereas Braun had some guy named Fielder hitting behind him, and who, in his right mind, is going to walk Braun to pitch to Fielder? Kemp had some guy named Juan Rivera hitting behind him — .258, 11HR, 74RBI on the season…no need to post Fielder's stats here, is there?

  16. Mark'd - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    I think Braun was the better player. I also don't like the career year guy like Kemp. I liked a guy named Morse and no pitchers.Good point on stats per game as 2% less games is significant.

  17. Doc - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Fun pun NatinBeantown. Let's hope he becomes part of the 'hurly-buehrle' of a Nats' winning season! Rizzo's record with top-of-the-line FAs has been suspect so far. He and his gang would seem to do better with the draft, as pointed out in a previous post.MVP, as Mark seems to be pointing out, is ultimately meant to be 'most valuable' for something special, e.g. a team outplaying other teams. Braun had the stats, and the Brewers outplayed the Dogers.Let's look for the Nats to outplay both teams in '12, and RZim is the MVP!Goooooooooooo Nats!!!!!

  18. gonatsgo - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    Another random thought – on mlb Hot Stove – I am sure that I hear Carpenter a couple of times on the intro. Am I crazy or do I just miss Nats games so much that I think I am hearing things?

  19. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    I am very excited that Michael Morse was even mentioned in this conversation! 2 nats in the roy voting, now Morse – next year the sky's the limit!

  20. Tcostant - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    Sorry to go off topic, but just to interesting not to post.I was able to obtain the MLB summary of the new CBA (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/2011_CBA.pdf), some interesting stuff that isn’t widely reported.1. Players will no longer have to elect to become free agents; it’s now an automatic process.2. Active rosters will be expanded to 26 for certain doubleheaders (whatever that means)3. ***Draft picks compensation with only be award for players who were with the team for the entire year (so no more July trades, where “if we don’t sign him at least we get two draft picks”)4. Now only the top 10 picks 1st round picks will be protected if you sign a type A free agent, if you have the 11th pick or thereafter, you will loss it now.5. More Super 2 arbitration players, Strasburg may have been held back for no good reason.6. Draft: Each team will get a pool (cap) for draft picks based on where they finish. If they exceed it by over 5%, the team wills loss at least a 1st round pick or more (two first round picks if you’re over by 15%). WOW!!! Plus a tax depending on how much over. These forfeited picks will be given to teams that don’t exceed the pool in the form of a lottery.7. The deadline for draft picks to sign will be no later than July 18th (At least the guys that sign can get time in the minors now)8. No more ML contracts for draft picks – All minor league deals.9. Player picked for the All-Star game, must play if not injured or excused by the Commissioner’s office (I guess like a starter who played the Sunday before). 10. International signing will have a poll (cap) where if exceeded will cause a tax for that team.

  21. Nats314 - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    You can't pitch around Braun as you have Fielder behind him. Why not walk Kemp to get to…….?

  22. Bowdenball - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Mark-You didn't even mention defense in your explanation. How did you account for the fact that Kemp plays a much more important defensive position than Braun and that Kemp is generally considered to be the better defensive player of the two, although neither is a good outfielder? All other things being equal- and you seem to think they pretty much are- doesn't the fact that one guy gets you those numbers while playing mediocre CF defense while the other is hidden in left field count for something?

  23. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Not sure I agree, but then Braun was the best player on a team that won their division for the first time in almost 30 years so there's that. Just thought Kemp reached greater heights overall.

  24. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    TIM.Kurkjian voted for Braun

  25. FS - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    Mark, the way I see it is if I replace Braun with Kemp, that is better lineup, better park, and other circumstances, Kemp does even better than he did this season.Halladay is definitely not more valuable to Phillies (that had Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, and Worley) than Kershaw was to Dodgers (guy responsible for more than quarter of their wins last season).Not saying your reasoning is wrong, just that I don't agree. Thanks and you are still as awesome as ever, even if you got MVP choice wrong. :P

  26. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    sure Anon 11:09… but theres no guarantee that Rendon is major league ready. I could see Zimm at 1B opening day 2014. with Rendon at 3rd. Lombo at 2nd and Danny the allstar at SS.Getting back to the off-season moves thread[s]: Really? I think the synopsis of Rizzo's conversation with Boswell was revealing. They were discussing Davey's Pirate ship ShangHai-ing AAA players for the crew. Apparently, he asked for and got Lombardozzi, Marerro, etc without asking Mike Rizzo. Rizzo's response, "You know him better than I do". Boswell's analysis even more revealing. As I've stated more than once, Davey Johnson likely will strongly prefer to finish Harper's development under his own eyes rather than AAA. He has Bo Porter who probably is the best outfield coach in the system. He has his own hand picked hitting coach. What's not to like for Harper? Or Rendon for that matter? Or Lombardozzi? Davey's proud that he had Dwight Gooden in his rotation at 19. Johnson loves big egos and big talents. And Davey DOES NOT OBEY. He basically called up Lombardozzi, Marrero, Peacock and Milone __ALL of them__ before the front office was willing to talk about it. Davey talked about how great it would be "when they come up."

  27. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Boswell:I asked Rizzo, "Is your manager calling up players before you figure out whether you want them called up and how it impacts the 40-man roster?"Rizzo said, paraphrase, "You know him better than I do."So, I laughed and said, "Yeah, looks like he is." Or some such. If Davey thinks Harper is ready, it'll be a bigger version of the way he said, "I need Detwiler to be my 'No. 6 starter' out of my bullpen now," and so Rizzo gave him Detwiler.They work very well together on that. Davey has done just about every job in baseball that exists. So he's perfect for saying to a GM, "What do you need me to do to help you develop your young players and answer your organizational questions as quick as possible." But Rizzo knows that a Davey Johnson team is a Davey Johnson team. He's going to say, "This is what I need. This is who I want on my team." And he'll say it in public first. Rizzo respects that, knows how good Davey is and is willing to learn things about roster-building from him.So, Davey won't want to rush Harper, but he sure won't want to slow him down either if he really thinks he's ready. He likes to have talent develop under his nown eye because he thinks he's the smartest man in baseball, ikncluding bteaching hitting __oh, sorry, Davey would never say that__ but if a great prospect, like Gooden, is going to get screwed up, Johnson'd like to be the one to screw 'em up, not somebody in the minors.

  28. natscan reduxit - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    … clearly Braun deserved the award, … simply based on his 'Inside The Park' attempt where he gave it his 'all … and so much more'.Go Buerle! Go Nats!!

  29. Tcostant - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    One correction:I used the word "Type A" free agent, that was incorrect. Type A and B will no longer be used. A free agent will be subject to compensation if his former Club offers him aguaranteed one-year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the125-highest paid Players from the prior season. The offer must be made at theend of the five-day free agent “quiet period,” and the Player will have seven daysto accept the offer.The point about only the first 10 picks be protected, is the correct.

  30. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… And who on Mark's list would you bump for Morse?************************Votto and Tulo stats are almost identical to Morse. Understand SS position difference.

  31. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Still sitting here wondering if Mark will address Davey's role in all of this in a post in the near future? I am a HUGE Michael Morse fan. Huge.But the handwriting appears to be on the wall:If Davey wants to continue Harper's development in the majors. And Rizzo wants Werth in right field (without any argument from Davey). And left-handed bats are needed in the lineup? Harper LFUpton CF (ignore JimBo, as usual too often wrong and rarely right)Werth RFIf you bundle Morse, Marerro, Desmond, Norris, Flores plus a couple of the pitching prospects (perhaps two relievers or 1 starter and 1 reliever) you might just get back an Upton and a Shields. Great cost cutting move for the Rays and they should still be competitive in the AL East. Yeah, the Nats will have to pay dearly for what they want. Perhaps that's why Bowden is reporting them onto the Cuban now. The price may have made too many flinch starting with Davey Johnson.

  32. Theophilus - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    There's a distinction between: (1) the Most Valuable Player/team did something special; (2) best player in baseball; (3) player who made the most difference in how his team played.The 1st guy gets the MVP trophy; the 2d guy gets something from ESPN, which is all about "stars," anyway; the 3d guy gets a long term contract for a lot of money. Kemp at least got the contract, so from that perspective everything worked out anyway.

  33. Theophilus - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    About the CBA, I haven't heard what the new revenue-sharing deal is. How long will the rest of baseball keep supporting the Rays losing money at the gate, backing up to the ML redistribution of wealth window, and whacking the big-spending Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers? And will any other teams figure out the formula?

  34. Tcostant - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    Here is the revenue sharing part, answer is at least 5 more years:IV.. REVENUE SHARINGa. The net transfer value of the Revenue Sharing Plan will be the same as the current plan. Nettransfer amounts will continue to grow with revenue and changes in disparity.b. The fifteen Clubs in the largest markets will be disqualified from receiving revenue sharing by2016. The revenue sharing funds that would have been distributed to the disqualified Clubs willbe refunded to the payor Clubs, except that payor Clubs that have exceeded the CBT thresholdtwo or more consecutive times will forfeit some or all of their refund.c. The Commissioner’s Discretionary Fund will increase from $10 to $15 million per year.

  35. Theophilus` - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Tco-Thanks.

  36. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Morse's replacement if he goes in a trade:The Washington Nationals are in the market for a right-handed hitter, and one of the targets could be Carlos Quentin of the White Sox, says Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune.Washington general manager Mike Rizzo selected Quentin in 2003 when he was the scouting director for Arizona. But Gonzalez cautions that relations between the two teams soured around the trading deadline in 2010, when the Nationals were not interested in acquiring pitcher Edwin Jackson in a deal involving slugger Adam Dunn.

  37. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    I would have voted Kemp. Kemp out Homererd, out RBI'd, out Run'd and out Stolen Bases'd Braun, in a much harder to hit in park and in a much harder Division and with a much weaker supporting cast. He leads the NL in HR, RBI and R's as a CF; mashing it all over in that huge park and playing a ton of games against the Giants and Padres and with Juan Rivera for protection (not Prince and his 38 bombs) too? A few points in OPS and the luck of playing on a way better team hands the crown to Braun? Ouch. Look at the lineup the Dodgers threw out there — ridiculous. Matt Kemp was the best player in the NL last year. dfh21

  38. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    When discussing the Rays and any moves, they have quality assets in place to replace both Upton and Shields and plan on moving them this off season.No way Flores AND Norris go in a deal.

  39. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    And yet Kemp could only get them to play .500 ball.I don't have any problem calling Kemp the best player in the NL this past season…. that doesn't make him the MVP.

  40. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    No way Flores AND Norris go in a deal.I hate, absolutely HATE the idea of Morse going in a deal. But you have to know Tampa Bay will want a lot. They might take Solano over Flores but they aren't very strong in the catching and MI department system wide. At least as far as I can tell. Then there's first base … where Morse, Marerro, and Moore might look attractive. Let's face it LaRoche is too expensive for them to risk on his comeback. Perhaps Davey hates losing Morse, perhaps Lombo, Desmond, Norris, etc? He seems to have quite a bit of sway …

  41. Sunderland - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    I think their total contributions as a player should be taken into account. Braun is OK at best in LF. Kemp is excellent at the more demanding CF position.I vote Kemp.

  42. Bowdenball - Nov 22, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Natsjack in Florida-Yes, it does. Quality = value. The better a player is is the more valuable he is. Period.Just as easily as you can say that Kemp is "less" valuable because his team only played .500 ball, you could also say that Braun was less valuable, because his team could probably have made the playoffs with any sort of semi-decent left fielder in his place, since they won the division by 6 games.Both of the arguments are total nonsense, however. A player's value doesn't depend on the value of the other players on his team. It depends only on how well he plays the game. That's just plain old common sense.

  43. Steve Sax - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    Kemp deserved it. How are voters saying Kemp and Braun were so similar? Kemp was better in almost every category, played more games, with less protection and a bigger park. That's not neck-and-neck competition to me. Matt Kemp did more with James Loney/Juan Uribe hitting behind him than Braun did with Prince. Just like a Verlander win, once the media narrative starts up, it can determine a winner who wasn't even empirically the best player.

  44. baseballswami - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    Does anybody have access to the new"social media policy"? I heard that there is one, not what's in it. Could be interesting.

  45. Sunderland - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Well Milwaulkee could have played .500 ball *without* Braun. How does that make him the MVP?

  46. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Hmmmm…. I guess Justin Verlander was the best player in the AL by Bowdenball's reasoning.

  47. John C. - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    Trading a boatload of talent for B.J. Upton makes no sense, IMHO. He's an OK player – better tools than brains, but not untalented, and certainly better than Bernadina or Ankiel – but it's either for a one year rental or for the privilege of ponying up major $$$ in a contract extension for a player whose numbers had been steadily declining for three years. He's better than Bernadina and Ankiel, yes – but is he so much better than them that he's worth giving up $$$ and prospects for?It's the same problem with James Shields – he becomes a FA after the 2012 season, so any deal that the Nationals make is a one year rental or involves a $$$ contract extension. It's also likely that, even with Matt Moore knocking on the door, Shields is regarded as an essential part of the Rays' shot at contending this year.I'm not sure that there is a deal there, to be honest. I can't see the Nationals investing much in a one year Upton rental, and I don't see the Rays as being eager to move Shields for anything other than a serious haul of prospects. But the phone down, Rizzo, and back slowly away …

  48. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    That's precisely why the Rays are unloading them….that and because they have replacements. They will not lose Shields to Free Agency (Upton, they don't really care). Shields and Upton are both signable.I have complete faith in Rizzo…. The whole Shields thing came about because of the "I didn't see that one coming" tact I've taken with whatever he pulls off in the next month.

  49. Wally - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    John C – I believe that Shields has team options through and including the 2014 season, topping out at $12m. That is pretty great value for the pitcher Shields has been, and he will be 32 when the 2014 ends, so no reason to expect age-related decline. Injuries, well he is as susceptible as any pitcher I guess, but he has been pretty durable so far. Your point that the Rays may view as indispensable may be right, though, and there have been rumors to that effect. My biggest question about this, is whether Morse is the best that they could get? For instance, could they use Shields plus some prospects to get Votto? Who knows?No argument on Upton, at least from me. The gymnastics would involve trying to get Shields, and that is where Morse potentially comes in.

  50. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    I want to have faith in Rizzo, but his ability to make a trade is not the strongest part of his game to date. I am hoping that if he makes a trade that it is a bold move for a guy who is very likely to be a stud for the Nats for some time to come (meaning, I am OK with him giving up a Morse, Desmond or even Storen in some package if he gets a star caliber player, not a a needs a change of scenery, will he ever really harness his talent guy like Upton). We'll see. dfh21

  51. Theophilus - Nov 22, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    Upton is worth only a couple of Class A players, at most, and only if they throw in a prescription for Xanax that runs the length of his contract.The sooner Tampa deals him to another team, or lets him walk and he signs somewhere else, the sooner I can sleep easy at night.

  52. Anonymous - Nov 22, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    Can we drop the semantics of MVP? It's the best player, period.

  53. Anonymous8 - Nov 22, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    Theophilus – I still like the Cutter Dykstra idea so Nyjer = BJ Upton

  54. FS - Nov 22, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    Couple of Class A players? Brilliant!I hope Friedman is as dumb as we think on this blog.Unless we are thinking of two different type of Class A players?

  55. Theophilus - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    AnonB and FS –In a post 9-10 months ago, I opined that BJ Upton was Nyjer w/ muscles. Still think so. And not in a good way.

  56. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    In a post 9-10 months ago, I opined that BJ Upton was Nyjer w/ muscles. Still think so. And not in a good way.And so knowing that he is going to be a free agent. Knowing the new rules of the CBA TB knows it probably has to deal Upton and really should do so now. For the Nats giving up assets which have no replacement (which is not the case for Tampa Bay) have to net more than just Upton in return. They almost have to ask for Shields, perhaps David Price. Price is arbitration eligible in 2012. He'll be expensive. AND he is left-handed Natsjack. Shields is 3rd year arbitration eligible … he's going to get a monster raise. He's a free agent after the 2012 season. The Nats could get one of those two pitchers … clearly the Rays would likely prefer trading Shields who is older and not under control as long. Upton is the icing on the cake for literally giving up the farm.

  57. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    As for John Lannan vs. Buehrle. Apparently Patrick Reddington reads this blog? He attempts to answer the question:Does Mark still have Lannan listed as a #3 starter? Ready to change that Mark? Goose Bumps Goesling? Davey Johnson via Patrick Reddington:"[Lannan] still has a tendency to just kind of overthrow," Johnson said when he brought up the topic again in the last month of the season. "He gets in a groove in [the 2nd, 3rd and 4th] where he starts pitching, but sometimes he tries to power the ball and his misses start coming up and he usually does that early in the ball game. If you watch closely, I get a really good view, he's throwing a lot of pitches a little bit up for him early and then he kind of gets more in command." After he'd dropped his sixth game in seven starts from mid-August through mid-September, the Nats' skipper was asked if it was a disappointing end to a relatively strong season by Lannan?"Yeah," the manager said, "We all expect a lot out of him. He's got good stuff. He's pitched out of some jams, making quality pitches and in this league, occasionally if you leave one out over the plate and up, you're going to get hit." The left-hander, Johnson said, "… sometimes overthrows. I like it when he's using that sinker and not trying to overthrow it. He gets a lot of ground balls, and when you see line drives to the outfield or whatever, the fastball's up. But he's got great stuff."

  58. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:38 AM

    Here's something I've wondered for years: the Cy Young Award winner is generally considered to go to the "best" pitcher, regardless of how his team did. What if the award for position players were called "the Babe Ruth Award" or somesuch, and the word "valuable" wasn't in the title? NOW who would you vote for?

  59. Wally - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:45 AM

    Shields is under contract through 2014. Team options, but they'll definitely be exercised. It may not change your conclusion, but it is different facts.http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/tampa-bay-rays/james-shields/But on that note, Tampa was brilliant at signing up their young guys while still in pre-arb years, offering guaranteed money through the end of arbitration at a discount, and getting team options for a few free agent years. Players were guaranteed millions, and the team got some low priced option year. Shields, Crawford, Longoria, Zobrist I think. The key was picking the right guys.We have several guys that potentially fit that mold : JZimm, Espy, Ramos, Morse. Hopefully Rizzo is thinking about it, and going to insist on some options.

  60. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:16 AM

    Friedman isn't "dumb". But he does have different priorities. His owner[s] want him to cut costs across the board. He has to work within a tight budget. So, for him, having a lot of close-to-the-majors controllable players who might fit his needs has to do. So far it has.

  61. John C. - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:17 AM

    I am corrected, Shields is technically a free agent after 2012 unless the Rays exercise a team option for $9 million for 2013 and $12 million for 2014. For that reason, baseball reference lists 2013 as his free agent year.My objections to Upton, however, stand :)PS: hilariously, the word capture was "nomerit"

  62. D'Gourds - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:49 AM

    I just can't understand your argument, Mark. Braun was surrounded by a much better lineup and therefore saw better pitches to hit. So, in fact, if two players had equal stats, the one who plays in the weaker lineup actually had the better year and was more valuable, no?

  63. Sunderland - Nov 23, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    “If you honestly assess both of our seasons individually I think his numbers are probably better than mine, and I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team,” Braun said. “It’s an individual award, but it’s a result of being part of a special team, a special organization.”

  64. Avar - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    I feel strongly the MVP should go to the best player. But, I feel that player was Braun. He was a tick better in most of the stat categories I care about. And his defense is less bad than Kemp's.

  65. Avar - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    PS, I HATED that Verlander won the MVP. Travesty. I don't even think he deserves the Cy Young. It should have been Sabathia, w/ Verlander 2nd. Verlander put up eye popping stats but in categories that are significantly luck driven. He had a fantastic year but not as brilliant as the mainstream says. His BABIP was .236, that is luck. If that had been average, his numbers would have been merely outstanding, not historically great. I would have given the MVP to Ellsbury actually. Bautista 2nd, Beltre 3rd. Then maybe CC in the top 5 but not Verlander. Someday maybe wins and ERA won't wow everyone so much but obviously those days are not here yet.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 53 --
ATLANTA 67 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 10.0
NEW YORK 60 68 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
THU: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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