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Lilly questions NL MVP choice, voting process

Lilly questions NL MVP choice, voting process

Lilly questions NL MVP choice, voting process
LOS ANGELES -- Even before headlines of Ryan Braun's alleged positive drug test, Dodgers veteran pitcher Ted Lilly charged the Baseball Writers' Association of America with a big, fat error when it didn't name his teammate, Matt Kemp, the National League MVP of 2011.

"They gave it to the wrong guy," Lilly said when the award was announced last month.

"I told you, they gave it to the wrong guy," he said again Sunday. "I would feel that way if Matt Kemp played for Milwaukee and Ryan Braun played for Los Angeles. Kemp was the Most Valuable Player."

Lilly isn't convinced the award shouldn't be revoked and transferred to runner-up Kemp, even though Ken Caminiti and Alex Rodriguez didn't lose their awards when steroid use was revealed.

"There's a first time for everything," said Lilly. "If we're really cleaning up the game, maybe that would be a move in the right direction."

But Lilly has just as big of a problem with the composition of the award's voting pool, which has changed dramatically while reflecting the change in the media that covers the sport.

"I don't think players are fully aware of who votes for these awards," said Lilly. "I always thought it was the beat writers, and I guess back in the day, it was. But now I understand that some of the beat writers aren't allowed to vote, so you get a lot of substitute voters that might not actually be covering their teams and you don't really know how they define an MVP. "

Lilly is correct. For example, the BBWAA has disqualified from membership MLB.com writers for a conflict of interest because they work for Major League Baseball. In addition, newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times won't allow their reporters to vote on season-ending awards because of a conflict of interest that exists when such awards can result in financial incentive bonuses for the winning players.

The Dodgers have three traveling beat writers, but only one is allowed to vote for postseason awards. Neither Los Angeles chapter writers that voted for the NL MVP -- Yahoo.com national writer Tim Brown and Los Angeles Times blogger Steve Dilbeck -- is a traveling beat writer, although both have been in the past.

According to the BBWAA website:

"Two writers from each MLB city are recommended by the local chapter chairman and approved by the national secretary-treasurer to vote for each award. Writers from NL cities vote for NL awards, and writers from AL cities vote for AL awards, making 32 voters for each NL award and 28 for each AL award. Most traveling beat writers will vote for at least one annual award each year. In some chapters, columnists or backup writers may also vote. Any active member of the BBWAA is eligible to vote for annual awards, regardless of his or her number of years in the organization.

"Most national baseball writers who are active BBWAA members will vote for annual awards. Typically, the writer votes in the chapter where he resides, but sometimes national writers vote as part of smaller chapters that don't have enough qualified voters.

"Beat writers may be asked to vote for two or even three awards, especially in chapters with fewer voters. Writers in two-team markets may even vote for awards in both leagues. Most writers vote for just one award each year."

Lilly thinks voters missed the significance and degree of difficulty of Kemp's season compared to Braun's.

"Matt didn't have Prince Fielder in the lineup," he said. "That's a huge difference. Matt didn't play in a hitter's park, which Miller Park is and Dodger Stadium isn't. Matt plays center field, so there are more defensive demands.

"I'm not saying that Braun didn't have a great season, but if he got the award just because his team went to the postseason, that's no reason to penalize Matt, who had a better season and was more important to the Dodgers. Think of where we'd have been without him."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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