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.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.