Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers had an outstanding season in 2011, but it wasn't quite enough to win the National League Most Valuable Player award. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers was named the 2011 National League MVP, capturing 20 of 32 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Kemp finished second, garnering 10 first-place votes.
Clayton Kershaw got one fifth place vote and was named on 11 of 32 ballots, finishing 12th, notably three spots behind Roy Halladay, who finished well behind Kershaw in the Cy Young balloting (by different voters).
|Dodgers NL MVP Winners|
Kemp had a season for the ages in 2011. He flirted with the first Triple Crown in the National League in 64 years, within .003 of the batting average lead with six games remaining in the season, and came up just one home run shy of becoming the fifth member of the 40/40 club. Kemp tied for 11th fastest to join the 30/30 club, joining Raul Mondesi as the only Dodger members of that club.
Kemp did lead the league in home runs (39), runs batted in (126), runs scored (115), total bases (353), adjusted OPS+ (171), and both versions of Wins Above Replacement (10.0 or 8.7, whichever you prefer).
He also hit three walk-off home runs on the season.
Kemp hit .324/.399/.586, becoming the first Dodgers center fielder to slug .500 since Duke Snider. Kemp was also the first player to finish in the top two in his league in both home runs and stolen bases since Hank Aaron in 1963.
Kemp has already been honored this season with the National League Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the top offensive performer in each league, the Baseball America Major League Player of the Year, and the Players Choice Award for Outstanding Player in the National League. Kemp was named to the Sporting News NL All-Star team, and won both a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, something he also did in 2009.
For his efforts, Kemp was rewarded with the largest contract in National League history, an eight-year, $160 million pact designed to keep him in Los Angeles through 2019.
I thought I was being optimistic in March when I wrote that Kemp was due for a bounce back in 2011:
No matter the reason, Kemp seems primed for a rebound this season. I can't help but note that even in a down year, Kemp hit 28 home runs. I am fully on board the Kemp comeback train, and I think he surpasses those projections above. I'll guess .286/.349/.509 for Kemp with 35 home runs.
Kemp blew past those projections with ease, but it wasn't quite enough to win the MVP.