Under other circumstances, Ryan Braun would have a real chance to repeat as National League MVP given how well he performed in 2012.
Mr. Braun is a mere 0.4 games behind San Francisco's Buster Posey for the highest WAR (wins above replacement) in the NL.Â Using more traditional metrics, he's first in runs scored, second in hits, first in home runs, second in RBI, third in batting average, and first in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
But unlike fellow competitors for this year's award (including Mr. Posey, Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh, David Wright of the NY Mets, and Yadier Molina of St Louis), Mr. Braun is the one player that has to overcome the 2011 off-season shadows of a positive test for PEDs.
Though Mr. Braun won his appeal of the suspension in February 2012, he certainly did not see any short-run spikes in endorsements or licensing/merchandise revenue that may otherwise been earned…as is customary with first-time league MVPs with an otherwise clean-cut, good-looking image.
The Baseball Writers Association of America determine each league's MVP, and in 2012, their decisions are unique for different reasons.
In the American League, it is being billed as old school versus new school.Â Miguel Cabrera leads in all the traditional metrics and won the Triple Crown, but Mike Trout has the far superior WAR (wins above replacement) which Sabermetricians argue is the better gauge of overall productivity.
In the National League, however, their decision is unique because they may choose to ignore the best candidate in Mr. Braun because of his recent PED ties…even if they were overturned on what some might call a technicality.
Though I suspect that the BWAA would be less likely to discriminate against Mr. Braun with respect to MVP voting if he were to duplicate his efforts in 2013, there is no doubt that the BWAA would hold a one-year grudge against Braun at the very least.
After all, rightly or wrongly, the BWAA - who also determine who gets into baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown - has demonstrated similar vitriol towards retired stars that otherwise would be no doubt Hall of Famers but for their ties to PEDs during baseball's so-called Steroids Era.