As I wrote on the final Sunday of the regular season, the National League MVP race was so close that I wouldn't decide until the season was over.
When it was, I picked Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp.
So did the majority of the voters, which is why Braun is this year's NL MVP.
Kemp had an outstanding season. So did Braun.
Braun had a huge impact on the pennant race. Kemp, basically through no fault of his own, did not.
The MVP is an individual award, but baseball is a team game. Everything you do is affected by your teammates.
And in my mind, it's hard (but not impossible) to be the MVP when your teammates aren't good enough to help you contend for a championship.
Would my vote have been different had Kemp won the Triple Crown, as he had a chance to do in the final weeks of the season?
It's possible it would have been. You'll never know, because I'll never know. I never had to make that decision.
I had to decide based on what did happen, and what happened was that Braun's great season helped his team to a championship, while Kemp's great season kept his team from losing more games than it won.
3. Prince Fielder. For the first part of the season, he was even better than Braun. For the whole year, Braun got the edge.
4. Albert Pujols. He started slow (for him), and then he was hurt. But he came back strong, and so did his team.
5. Lance Berkman. Without him, the Cardinals would have been buried early.
6. Roy Halladay. The Phillies were the dominant team in the regular season, and their starting pitching was the reason. The problem was that it was hard to separate out one starter.
7. Justin Upton. Great year, great story, but his home-road split (1.033 OPS at home, .767 on road) held him down.
8. Cliff Lee. Based on June (5-0, 0.21) and August (5-0, 0.45), he was the MVP. For the full season, he just makes the ballot.
9. Joey Votto. Didn't repeat his 2010 season, so he won't repeat as MVP.
10. Carlos Ruiz. His numbers are nowhere near MVP-worthy. I gave him a 10th-place vote because of the impact he has on the Phillies pitching, which was so good that if I could have voted for the rotation as a whole, they would have been the MVP.