Ryan Braun wins NL MVP award

Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun celebrates his 2 RBIs against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 5th...

Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun celebrates his 2 RBIs against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 5th inning of Game 1 in the MLB National League Championship Series baseball playoffs in Milwaukee, October 9, 2011. (REUTERS/Darren Hauck)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:59 PM ET

NEW YORK - Slugger Ryan Braun, who helped the Milwaukee Brewers reach a league championship for the first time in 29 years, was announced Tuesday as the National League MVP. Braun, who hit the home run that clinched the NL Central title for Milwaukee, had a .332 batting average with 33 home runs, 111 RBI and 33 steals during the season. "It's hard to put into words what this means to me," Braun said. "It's very emotional and something I'm really proud of." The 28-year-old outfielder was listed first on 20 ballots and second on the other 12. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who led the NL in homers, RBI, runs and total bases, was second with 10 first-place votes. The other first-place votes went to Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, who finished third, and Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, who was fourth. Braun said playing on a winning team probably helped him win the award over Kemp, whose Dodgers posted an 82-79 record and missed the playoffs. "I think ultimately I won it because they put a better team around me," Braun said. Canadian Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds finished sixth in MVP voting. Votto won the award in 2010. LOEWEN SIGNS WITH METS Pitcher-turned-outfielder Adam Loewen is now a Blue Jay-turned-Met. Loewen, 27, signed a minor-league contract with the New York Mets, according to multiple reports Tuesday. Loewen's conversion from the pitching mound to the outfield went smoothly enough that the left-hander earned a spot in the majors in September with Toronto. But the B.C. native was outrighted from the Jays' 40-man roster after the season. Loewen hit .306 with 17 homers and an .884 OPS in 134 games at triple-A Las Vegas in 2011. He was drafted fourth overall by Baltimore in 2002 and pitched 164 innings for the Orioles before suffering recurring elbow injuries. He made a comeback as an outfielder in 2009. NO LABOUR PAINS IN MLB Major League Baseball players and owners announced a five-year collective bargaining agreement Tuesday that includes extra drug testing and plans to expand the playoffs. The deal will replace a pact that expires Dec. 11 and ensures the league will have 21 consecutive years of labour peace. The new deal includes blood testing for human growth hormone as early as next year and plans to add an extra wild-card playoff spot in each of the two leagues no later than 2013. Among other changes: Players who routinely have blown off the all-star game will now be required to play unless they are injured or excused by MLB; If the umpires' union agrees, a replay review can be requested to confirm if a fielder has caught a ball or trapped it, and to check whether a hit is fair or foul; and in a crackdown on smokeless tobacco, players will not be allowed to have chew in their mouth during TV interviews and cannot have a can of smokeless in their back pocket while on the field. BRIEFLY Four-time all-star Joe Nathan signed a two-year contract Tuesday reported to be worth $14.5 million to become the closer for the Texas Rangers. Signing the former Minnesota Twins pitcher allows the team to shift closer Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation ... A group headed by Jim Crane completed its purchase Tuesday of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane. The group becomes the fifth owner of the Houston franchise, which began play in the major leagues as the Colt .45s in 1962.

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