Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Braun Wins NL MVP!!!

Let it sink in. Ryan Braun is your 2011 NL MVP.

Braun received 20 of 32 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He had 388 total points. The runner-up, Matt Kemp, received 10 first-place votes and had 332 total points. Braun's teammate, Prince Fielder (229 total points), finished third in the MVP vote followed by Justin Upton (214 total points) and Albert Pujols (166 total points).

Braun was instrumental in leading the Brew Crew to their 1st division title since 1982 and is the 1st Brewer to win the award since Robin Yount won his 2nd AL MVP in 1989. More importantly, Braun is the 1st JML to win the MVP since Sandy Koufax in 1963. Braun joins Koufax, Al Rosen (1953), and Hank Greenberg (1935 and 1940) as the only JMLs to ever win an MVP. Lou Boudreau also won the award in 1948, if you consider him a JML.

Like this year's AL MVP, Justin Verlander, Braun also won Rookie of the Year in 2007; Verlander won that award in 2006. Braun is the only JML to ever win Rookie of the Year and an MVP. Braun has placed in the voting every year of his career. He finished 24th his rookie season, 11th in 2009, 15th in 2010, and 3rd in 2008 when the Brewers won the Wild Card.

I'll go over Braun's numbers in a forthcoming post covering the 2011 season for every JML. That will be posted soon. I wanted to wait until after the MVP voting had concluded.

It should be noted that Ian Kinsler finished 11th in the AL MVP vote, the highest he's ever placed. He had previously finished 20th in 2008 and 26th in 2009. Kinsler had 25 total points, including 1 fifth-place vote and 2 sixth-place votes. His teammate, Michael Young, finished 8th in the vote.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Team Israel Adds More Star Power

Shawn Green, Gabe Kapler, and Brad Ausmus recently met in Los Angeles with Israeli baseball officials; they are determined to help Israel assemble a competitive team for next year's qualifying round in the World Baseball Classic.

Green said he would help the team "in any capacity" and did not rule out playing. If you'll recall, Bernie Williams played in the 2009 WBC with Puerto Rico's team after he had retired from MLB in 2006. He was 40 at the time. Shawn Green last played in 2007 with the Mets and will turn 40 next November.

Ausmus said he would try to reach out to Jewish major leaguers and believes the team "could be a contender" in 2013 if it can get past the qualifying round. Ausmus hopes to bridge the gap between Jewish American baseball fans and Israeli baseball fans.

Kapler believes many Jewish ballplayers will want to participate in this historic event. Peter Kurz, the secretary-general of the Israel Association of Baseball, said the qualifying team will recruit recently retired major leaguers as well as current players in the minors and even players at the collegiate level. Obviously, recruiting current major leaguers will be a top priority, but that may not happen unless the team can advance beyond the qualifying round.

Kurz also said Green, Kapler, and Ausmus are each going to contribute in coaching, recruiting, and fund raising. One of the three is expected to become the team manager. Ausmus seems like the logical choice. He is one of the more cerebral baseball minds around, and it has long been thought that he would make an excellent skipper.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Braun's Burgeoning Trophy Case

Ryan Braun won his 4th Silver Slugger award and became the 1st outfielder since Barry Bonds to win 4 straight Silver Slugger awards. Will Braun add an MVP to his Silver Sluggers and Rookie of the Year? We'll find out November 22. Stay tuned.