Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said Monday that while he would vote for himself for National League Most Valuable Player -- the winner of which is set to be announced Tuesday -- he feels the objective choice would be Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun.
"If I was on the outside looking in, I would definitely be voting for Braun because he had a hell of a season," Kemp told John Ireland and Mark Willard on 710 ESPN. "Whoever wins it is going to be deserving of it. Hopefully, I'm the one who gets the phone call tomorrow and gets the good news."
Braun's Brewers made the playoffs by running away with the NL Central title while Kemp's Dodgers finished a distant third in the NL West. However, Kemp said he didn't think that should be a factor in tilting the award in Braun's favor.
"I could've sworn the MVP is Most Valuable Player, not Most Valuable Player on a winning team," Kemp said. "But it is what it is, and that is just how it is. For me, like I said, if [Braun] wins, he is very deserving. If I win, that's even better. … We will see if we can change that and see if we can make something happen."
Kemp and Braun, a Granada Hills High School graduate who lives in Mission Hills, put up offensive numbers that were virtually identical in 2011. Kemp hit .324 and led the NL in home runs (39), RBI (126) and runs scored (115) while posting a .399 on-base percentage, .586 slugging and .996 on-base-plus-slugging. Braun hit .332 with 109 runs, 33 homers and 111 RBI while posting a .397 OBP and led the NL in slugging (.597) and OPS (.994).
Braun had 38 doubles to Kemp's 33 and struck out once every 6.8 plate appearances while Kemp struck out every 4.3 plate appearances.
Kemp's potential MVP season came on the heels of a disappointing 2010, and he credited a change in his offseason conditioning as the reason for the turnaround.
"Running," he said. "I incorporated more running into my weight training and built up a little more speed and just got into better shape. I've always been in good shape, but I tried to take it to the next level and I did a little bit of extra things with my weights. My mindset was even different, too. I've always wanted to be the best but this year, I just believed that I was going to be able to do some special things and it all worked into place.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.