What makes a most valuable player most valuable?
That argument arises nearly every year when the Baseball Writers Association of America announces its MVP awards in the respective leagues. The debate is sure to catch fire again Tuesday when the National League MVP Award is announced.
The general consensus is that the top three candidates are the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp. Though the offensive production of those three players was fairly even, Kemp produced the best numbers across the board, ranking first in four categories and second in four others.
Kemp was the recipient of the Hank Aaron Award in the NL, a formula-based honor given annually by MLB to the top offensive performers in each league. But voting members of the BBWAA often take into consideration how a candidate's team fared, interpreting "most valuable" to mean the player served a key role in pushing his club toward the postseason.
And that's where the fortunes of the Brewers and Dodgers diverged. Milwaukee won a franchise-record 96 games and captured its first NL Central crown, finishing six games ahead of St. Louis. Los Angeles finished third in the NL West with 82 victories, 11½ games behind Arizona.