Remember how Ryan Braun won the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player? Of course you do, it just happened, but you better hope that memory sticks because years from now you are going to have a hard time finding out who won the 2011 NL MVP, or at least you will if you rely upon the popular site Baseball-Reference.com.
If you are a frequent user of B-R as I am, you know that it is a fantastic site that has a broad and deep collection of both statistics and historical information. Basically, if you ever needed to know anything about baseball, B-R is the first place you should look… or at least it was.
Other than a blog separately hosted over at parent site Sports-Reference.com, Baseball-Reference presents all of its wonderful data through an unbiased, purely informational prism. There is now one exception to that though, Braun’s MVP which B-R has omitted from their page which lists all MVP and Cy Young awards in the history of baseball. You can see this for yourself in the image below or directly at the page itself.
What is strangely absent is an explanation for the omission. Considering the controversy surrounding Braun and his failed banned substance test, one can’t help but assume that someone at B-R is taking some sort of moral stand against Braun and his possible violation of MLB PED rules. It is either that or this was a very unfortunate glitch in the system.
I sent multiple inquiries to B-R and its proprietor Sean Forman to seek clarification on this matter, but received no response. As such, I am assuming this was a willful act in protest of Braun’s failed test. If that is the case, B-R is doing it in a very strange manner. For starters, Braun’s player page does list his MVP win, so it isn’t completely absent from the site, just the awards listing. Braun’s MVP is also the only award removed from the page, which is almost hypocritical since admitted PED users like Barry Bonds have their award history fully intact on the same page.
Strangest of all though is merely that Baseball-Reference has doctored their historical record, which would seem to violate its philosophy of providing comprehensive historical data of baseball. Not to oversimplify it, but B-R deliberately fudging the record books is tantamount to Encyclopedia Britannica intentionally removing the section on how World War II ended because the publishers were morally opposed to the use of atomic bombs. Performance-enhancing drugs and atomic bombs are obviously totally different issues, but Baseball-Reference and Encyclopedia Britannica are similar in that they are both collections of facts and nothing but the facts, which is why doing something like fudging events of a war in the encyclopedia is so obviously preposterous and why Baseball-Reference hiding Braun’s MVP award should be considered preposterous as well, especially doing so with no explanation whatsoever. (In the interest of fairness, if anyone from Baseball-Reference would like to provide an explanation, we are more than happy to post it here.)
On the other hand, Baseball-Reference is its own entity and beholden to no person or official MLB entity, so they can do whatever they want, especially when it comes to taking a stand against the PED issue that has tainted so many of the stats that B-R works so diligently to provide.
UPDATE: Sometime over the weekend, B-R has updated the page to now list Braun as the MVP. No explanation for the original omission has been provided that I could find.
UPDATE #2: According to the official B-R Twitter account, the omission was the result of technical glitch. No harm, no foul.