It’s finally official. In an announcement just made on the MLB Network, and one that is not surprising at all, Kris Bryant has won the National League Rookie of the Year award and has done so in unanimous fashion.
Voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, the Cubs third baseman (and occasional outfielder) beat out the other two finalists in the category, Matt Duffy of the San Francisco Giants, and Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He becomes the first Chicago Cubs player to win the award since Geovany Soto in 2008, and there’s a ton of reasons for it.
Remember when you were so angry that the Cubs didn’t have him on the roster at the beginning of the season? That seems like such a long time ago, but it didn’t really matter in the end, did it? Bryant was called up on April 17 and with a ton of pressure on him in his debut, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. It was on from there.
Every rookie is going to struggle at some point, but he battled back from that negativity and put up the stats of a seasoned veteran in his first year (.275 BA, 26 HR, 99 RBI), and led all rookies with those 99 runs batted in. He also led the entire rookie class in runs (87), doubles (31), and was second in walks (77). He also set some franchise rookie records, setting a new benchmark in home runs, runs batted in, extra base hits (62), and total bases (273). And yes, let’s not forget some of the tape measure shots that he provided throughout the year, including the 495 foot monster against Arizona in September.
The Cubs reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but even before the season began, manager Joe Maddon knew that Bryant was something special.
“Of course, he’s talented, great body, great power, wonderful arm, good third baseman, good outfield. He’s a lot of good things, and he gets it. I think he understands the work involved necessary to be great. He’s rather humble for me. He’s not outgoing in a sense in a negative way. He knows he’s good. There’s also a humility about him, too. He’s a good baseball player. He’s one of the better young baseball players I’ve had. Period.”
That’s high praise from a very respected man in the game. Kris Bryant is one of the biggest pieces in the future of the Chicago Cubs. Alongside guys like Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, the outlook for next year and beyond is very bright, and today’s award only verifies that. Congratulations to Kris Bryant, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year. Watch out folks. He’s just getting started.