Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp narrowly lost the 2011 NL Most Valuable Player award to Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. That the two were separated by about 60 points in voting illustrates just how close the race was. Now that we’ve learned that Braun did, in fact, use performance-enhancing drugs, that race isn’t nearly as close for a lot of people. Some have suggested retroactively naming Kemp the 2011 NL MVP and stripping Braun of his award.
Kemp isn’t one of those people. He thinks he lost the 2011 NL MVP race fair and square as it was chosen not by Braun but by writers. Via Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:
“Honestly, it doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Kemp said. “I was in a race to win the MVP, I got second. It is what it is. The voters had an opinion about who they wanted to pick as the MVP. That’s who they picked, that’s who they felt was the MVP. You have to respect them for that. The other stuff, it is what it is, man. For me, all I’m worried about is getting healthy and getting back on the field and helping my team win.”
Hernandez added this bit, showing that Kemp may feel at least somewhat deserving of the award:
“It would definitely be nice to have a MVP trophy,” he said. “But I didn’t win the MVP. I lost. I got second.”
To a cheater, he was a reminded.
“Yeah…. OK.… Yeah,” he said, smiling.
Kemp did say Braun should be stripped of the award, per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick:
“Do I feel like it should be stripped? I mean, yeah, I do,” Kemp said. “I feel like it should be, but that’s not for me to decide, you know? That’s not for me to decide.”
As for Kemp’s ailing ankle suffered sliding into Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki on Sunday, the team will decide tomorrow if he will need another stint on the disabled list, according to Gurnick.
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.