Ryan Braun is facing a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. He is appealing, but if the positive test is upheld and the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America were to vote on the National League most-valuable-player award again, would the results be different?
The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp would win in a landslide, according to a Los Angeles Times survey of the 20 writers who submitted MVP ballots with Braun winning.
However, an official change isn’t expected.
Jack O’Connell, the BBWAA’s longtime secretary-treasurer and award administrator, said there are no plans to re-issue MVP ballots — even if Braun’s suspension is upheld upon appeal. Braun, whose hitting helped propel the Milwaukee Brewers to the NL Championship Series, has proclaimed his innocence and appealed the test results.
“The voters used the information they had at the time of the election,” O’Connell said. “I don’t see how we can change that.”
Several writers who voted for Braun said they would cast their ballots for Kemp in a revote, but a majority of reporters contacted by The Times —15 of the 20 — were against voting again, and two were unsure.
The Times has a policy forbidding its writers from voting for awards, in part to avoid situations such as these in which reporters become key elements of a story. Bill Shaikin, The Times’ national baseball writer, is the BBWAA’s national president.
Tim Kurkjian of ESPN said he is against a potential revote because of the precedent it would set. If he did vote again, he said Braun would still receive his first-place vote.
“Baseball has never taken an award or record away from anyone for any reason,” Kurkjian wrote in an email.
Kurkjian went on to write that if the BBWAA revoted on Braun’s award, it would have to do so for awards won by Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens.
“And that would just be the start,” Kurkjian wrote. “The record books would become a complete mess.”
And if awards and records are revoked from individual players, Kurkjian continued, victories and championships won by teams with chemically enhanced players would also have to be erased.
“For practical purposes,” Kurkjian wrote, “that would be impossible to do.”
Like Kurkjian, Bob Nightengale of USA Today opposes a revote but said if there was one he would cast the same ballot he did in the fall.
“I just think nobody knows about anyone anymore,” Nightengale said. “You don’t know who’s clean and who isn’t.”
Nightengale pointed out that Braun’s failed drug test was administered in the playoffs. The MVP award is determined by regular-season performance.
Nightengale said the only way the Brewers left fielder would not have received his vote is if he had tested positive during the regular season and been forced to sit out games as a result. In that instance, he said he would be altering his vote on account of the games not played, not the positive drug test.
Kurkjian and Nightengale were among six voters who said they would submit the same list as last time. Six others said they were unsure of what they would do.
Nightengale said he is a proponent of drug testing and cleaning up baseball. He said he just doesn’t think current testing methods are effective.
Not everyone sees it that way.
Braun received 20 first-place votes to Kemp’s 10 in the original balloting, but eight of the reporters who voted for Braun said that Kemp would get their first-place votes if they could do it again.
Voters list 10 players on their ballots. Of the eight that said they would switch to Kemp, seven said they would drop Braun from their list entirely and the other said he would consider doing the same.
“If he cheated,” said Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, “he shouldn’t have his name in the record books.”
Said Hal McCoy of FoxSportsOhio.com: “It’s not going to happen, unfortunately.”
Staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.