Ryan Braun’s future award chances, and accepting the 2011 award

Buster Olney had an item in this morning’s column that was picked up at Hardball Talk — basically, Olney was wondering if Ryan Braun will ever be considered for an award again now that he’s tested positive.

Craig Calcaterra’s feeling is likely one that would make Brewers fans happy:

My gut on this is no, Braun would not face some sort of defacto discipline from awards voters as a result of what looks like it will be a 50-game drug suspension in 2012.  The biggest reason: the different voting pools for the Hall of Fame and the postseason awards.

Awards voters are active, working baseball writers. Primarily beat reporters who skew younger, smarter and more open-minded than the Hall of Fame electorate as a whole. … The awards electorate does not strike me as a body that would mete out some sort of moralistic justice against Braun. If he put up another MVP-worthy season I presume, absent any future PED questions, he’d get his plaque just like he did this year.

Calcaterra is definitely right about the electorate, and well-liked players tend to have indiscretions forgotten (hey, remember when David Ortiz tested positive during survey testing in 2003?). I’m just not as optimistic that this situation will be forgotten in the near future.

Let’s say in 2013, Braun has another MVP-type season in a full year. Like this past year, he has a legitimate case to win the award, but there’s another candidate or two that could also be considered deserving. He finishes the year among the league leaders in home runs/RBI, he’s top three or five in wOBA, and he plays good enough defense to also be among the leaders in WAR.

There are plenty of smart (mostly young) writers in the electorate that wouldn’t let something that happened in 2011 affect how they view the 2013 season. But the people voting for awards change from year-to-year, and there are still a lot of voters who probably won’t be willing to separate one year from another. Enough voters to possibly keep Braun from finishing atop the MVP voting again.

This is my own gut feeling: Braun will have a few more MVP-worthy years (they aren’t exactly common, so we’re likely worrying about nothing), but will end up falling short in those years, and there will be columns from writers bragging about how somebody had to stand up for the sanctity of the game.

As far as the 2011 NL MVP award goes, Braun still plans to attend the BBWAA dinner on January 21st to accept the award.

Braun deserves to accept his award, but he’s going to get a lot of scrutiny for showing up. He also won’t be able to say much about his situation without compromising his appeal case, which will probably only draw more criticism of the “IF HE’S REALLY INNOCENT, HE’D SAY WHAT HE TOOK” type.

It will be one hell of an awkward, uncomfortable situation — just like the rest of this story. But if writers are going to deny him the chance to win another award in the future, they should at least let him accept this one in person.

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