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2011 N.L. MVP

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Milwaukee Brewers RF Ryan Braun was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player today, earning 20 of 32 first-place votes from the country’s top baseball writers.

The prestigious award comes just 4 years after the southern California native was named N.L. Rookie of the Year, and 6 years after the Brewers drafted him.

Braun’s victory over 2nd-place Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers also marks the end of a 48-year-old drought. The last Jewish player to earn the honor was Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax, who won the MVP and Cy Young awards in 1963.

By coincidence, Koufax too is a “Braun.” Born Sanford Braun, he was renamed after his stepfather, Irving Koufax.

2011 was a stellar year for Ryan Braun. The 28-year-old hit .332 with 33 HRs and 111 RBIs, leading the league both in slugging percentage and OPS (on-base-percentage plus slugging). He became the 36th player (and third Jew) of all time to record at least 30 HRs and 30 stolen bases in the same season. And although postseason play is not part of the MVP calculus, Braun ranked 3rd among N.L. players in playoff doubles (7), 5th in RBIs (10), and 4th in both average (.405) and on-base percentage (.468).

Asked why baseball writers chose him over Kemp, Braun was humble. He told MLB.com it probably was because the Brewers made it to the N.L. championships, while the Dodgers finished the regular season 11.5 games out of first place in the N.L. West division.

“That’s probably the one thing that separates us,” Braun said. “If you honestly assess our seasons individually, (Kemp’s) numbers are probably slightly better than mine. I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team.”

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