Ryan Braun is your 2011 NL MVP

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Congratulations to Ryan Braun for beating out Matt Kemp for the 2011 NL MVP.  A big assist to the other Milwaukee Brewers for being better than the Los Angeles Dodgers, thereby making Braun more valuable.  At least I guess that’s how that worked.

Braun received 20 of the 32 first place votes, Kemp got 10 and Prince Fielder and Justin Upton each got a single first place vote.  Overall, Kemp was second, followed by Fielder, Upton, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Lance Berkman.  It’s interesting that Clayton Kershaw was 11th after having a pretty dominant kind of year.  Was the difference between his season and Justin Verlander’s really 10 slots on the ballot?  An interesting philosophical question.  Also: Michael Young got boned. He was such a great leader that he should have gotten some NL votes too.

Anyway, as said before, Braun had an outstanding season.  I think Kemp’s was better once you factor in defense and the quality of pitching he had to face over the course of the year, but you really do need to be a special kind of person to get truly outraged here.  I would have voted differently, but this is way closer to tomato/tomahto territory than it is to travestyland.

Congratulations Ryan Braun.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.