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The Early Lead
Posted at 03:38 PM ET, 11/22/2011

Brewers Ryan Braun edges Dodgers Matt Kemp for NL MVP


The “Hebrew Hammer” is your NL MVP. (Pool - Reuters)
The Milwaukee Brewers captured their first division title since 1982 and made a thrilling run to the National League Championship Series — and Ryan Braun was a big reason why.

It was Braun’s three-run home run on Sept. 23 that clinched the NL Central title, and the 28-year-old slugger his .405 with 10 RBI in the playoffs.

On Tuesday, the four-time All-Star and 2007 National League Rookie of the Year added National League Most Valuable Player honors to his growing list of accolades.

Braun, who received 20 of 32 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, is the first Milwaukee player to win the award since Robin Yount did it in 1989 in the American League.

The left-fielder nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer” led the league in slugging (.597) and finished a close second in average (.332). He had 33 home runs, scored 109 runs and stole a career-high 33 bases. Braun’s 111 RBIs gave him four straight seasons with more than 100 and his 77 extra-base hits gave him the most in the league.

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp finished behind Braun (388) with 332 points in a year in which he nearly won the NL Triple Crown. Kemp hit .324 (third in the league) with a .586 slugging percentage (second), led the league with 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 115 runs, and finished with 195 hits (second) and 40 stolen bases (second). Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, finished third (229), and was followed by Arizona All-Star outfielder Justin Upton (214).

In his five seasons in the majors, Braun has a .312 average and a .563 slugging percentage with 161 home runs and 531 RBI.

Personal sidenote: Braun has been a fantasy monster for my teams over the last few years, but the lasting image I’ll take away from his 2011 season is his hilarious spill during an inside-the-park home run attempt. The photos are fantastic — but the video is an instant classic. Just ask Reggie Miller.

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By  |  03:38 PM ET, 11/22/2011

 
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