National League MVP Battles: Controversial Decisions over the Years

Historic MVP Controversies in the National League

Every year, the race for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in Major League Baseball is one of the most closely watched and debated topics among fans, analysts, and players alike. The National League (NL), one of the two leagues in MLB, has seen its fair share of controversial decisions over the years. In this article, we will take a look back at some of the most memorable and contentious NL MVP battles in

national league mvp

Controversial NL MVP Race: A Brief Overview

The NL MVP award, which recognizes the player who has contributed the most to his team's success throughout the regular season, has often sparked hot debates due to differing opinions on what "value" truly means. The selection process involves members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voting for their top choices based on a player's overall performance, contributions to team success, and the context of their performance within the league.

While most years see a deserving winner crowned, there have been instances where the outcome of the NL MVP race has left fans scratching their heads and ignited passionate discussions that lingered for years to come. Let's dive into some of these controversial decisions.

The Kemp vs. Braun Outrage

One of the most debated MVP races in recent history occurred in 2011 when Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers edged out Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the award. Braun, who was later suspended for violating MLB's drug policy, received 20 of the 32 first-place votes, while Kemp, who had a monster season, received only 10.

Many argued that Kemp's performance was far superior to Braun's that season. Kemp led the league in home runs (39), runs batted in (RBI) (126), and stolen bases (40), while also hitting .324. On the other hand, Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBI. The controversy surrounding Braun's subsequent suspension only intensified the outrage from Kemp supporters and raised questions about the credibility of his MVP award.

The Bonds Controversies

No conversation about NL MVP controversies could be complete without mentioning Barry Bonds, who found himself at the center of multiple heated debates during his dominant playing career. Bonds won a record seven NL MVP awards throughout his career, but some of those victories were surrounded by controversy.

1991: Bonds vs. Terry Pendleton

In 1991, Barry Bonds had a sensational season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, leading the league in home runs and slugging percentage while also playing stellar defense in the outfield. However, he lost the MVP award to Terry Pendleton of the Atlanta Braves, who had a solid but less statistically impressive season.

Many argued that Bonds was robbed of the award due to his tumultuous relationship with the media. The voters, consisting of sports writers, seemingly held personal biases against Bonds, resulting in a controversial outcome that left fans and players divided.

2002: Bonds vs. Sammy Sosa

In 2002, Bonds once again faced controversy when he was involved in a tight race for the MVP against Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. Bonds had a record-breaking season, smashing an astounding 73 home runs, but Sosa's remarkable power display and the Cubs' playoff berth made it a fiercely debated MVP battle.

Ultimately, Bonds won the award, but many argued that Sosa's impact on the Cubs' success should have given him the edge. The passionate arguments from both sides only added to the drama surrounding one of the most polarizing figures in baseball history.

Affection for Albert: Pujols' MVP Snubs

Albert Pujols is widely regarded as one of the greatest hitters of his generation, but his individual brilliance didn't always translate into MVP awards. Despite consistently putting up outstanding numbers, Pujols faced several disappointments and perceived snubs during his career.

One of the most contentious moments came in 2006 when Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies won the MVP over Pujols. While Howard had a fantastic season with a league-leading 58 home runs and 149 RBI, Pujols had a slightly higher batting average, more runs scored, and a higher on-base percentage. The decision sparked intense debates over the true meaning of "value" and the influence of traditional statistics versus advanced metrics in MVP voting.

Another notable MVP snub for Pujols occurred in 2009 when he finished second to Ryan Braun. Pujols had a remarkable season, batting .327 with 47 home runs and 135 RBI while playing exceptional defense at first base. Despite his outstanding individual performance, the overall success of Braun's team, the Milwaukee Brewers, likely played a role in swaying the voters.

Recent Controversies and Unforgettable Battles

The NL MVP battles over the years have featured many other contentious moments that divided fans and analysts. Let's take a look at a few more notable controversies:

2014: Kershaw's Pitching Dominance

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers took home the NL MVP in 2014, becoming the first pitcher to win the award in over 45 years. His extraordinary performance on the mound, including an eye-popping 21-3 record and a minuscule 1.77 earned run average (ERA), made him a deserving recipient.

However, some argued that position players have a more significant impact on a team's success and should garner more consideration for the award. Nevertheless, Kershaw's historic season left an indelible mark on the MVP race and provided further fuel for the ongoing debate on whether pitchers should be eligible for the award.

2017: Stanton's Home Run Derby

The 2017 NL MVP race turned into a highly contentious battle between Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins and Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds. Stanton, who led the league with 59 home runs, ultimately emerged as the winner, but Votto's exceptional performance and impressive on-base skills made it a tight race.

Despite Stanton's monstrous power numbers, some argued that Votto's overall offensive excellence, including a league-leading .454 on-base percentage, should have given him the edge. The contrasting styles of the two players and their distinct approaches to the game fueled passionate discussions about what truly defines an MVP.

The Impact of MVP Controversies

These NL MVP controversies, along with numerous others, have shaped the way we perceive and evaluate player performance in baseball. They have brought attention to the subjectivity of the MVP award and sparked debates about the criteria used to determine the most valuable player.

While each controversy leaves a lasting impact on the game's history, they also serve as reminders of the passion and excitement that surround baseball's most prestigious individual honor. As new MVP battles unfold each season, fans eagerly await the outcome, hoping for a fair and just decision that will stand the test of time.

Whether you agree or disagree with the outcome of these controversial NL MVP races, there is no denying the lasting impact they have had on the league and its players. The debates sparked by these controversies only add to the allure and excitement of the MVP award, making it a topic of endless discussion among baseball fans.


Font Size
lines height