Why Kris Bryant Won the National League Rookie of the Year Award
From the very first pitch of spring training until just one day ago, Chicago's Kris Bryant was the talk of baseball in 2015.
It all started off when he hit, oh I don't know, a million home runs in spring training (it was 9 dingers in 14 games, actually), then was sent down to Triple-A to start the season. The world knew the 22-year-old kid was ready to start the season at Wrigley Field for the Cubs, but that the team wanted to buy one more year of team control and waited until May to bring up the young slugger for arbitration purposes.
Fast forward to Monday, when Bryant was unanimously selected as the National League's Rookie of the Year, garnering every single first place vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
|Jung Ho Kang||Pirates||4||16||28|
But it's clear, just by looking at the statistics and his impact on the wild card winning Cubs, that he was far and away the right choice.
Bryant's fWAR of 6.5 was undoubtedly better than the next-closest position player's and twice as much as the closest rookie pitchers, Anthony DeSclafani (3.2) and Syndergaard (3.1). It's the highest fWAR among National League rookies since Albert Pujols' rookie season in 2001 (7.2) and the highest overall since Mike Trout's 2012 rookie campaign (10.3).
And let's compare Bryant's numbers to the last NL position player to win Rookie of the Year, Washington's Bryce Harper, in 2012.
Of course, Harper was four years younger than Bryant when he won the award back in 2012. Still, Bryant's 2015 season was simply terrific.
In July, Bryant seemed to lose some momentum and was seriously challenged by L.A.'s Joc Pederson. Bryant hit a wall, batting just .168/.270/.368 with 4 homers and 3 doubles that month but bounced back nicely to slash .330/.422/.620 in August and .316/.380/.521 in September with 12 of his 26 homers coming in those final two months.
Of course, he was prone to the strikeout this year, leading the league with 199. But he also walked 77 times and posted an on-base percentage that was 11th-best in the National League.
Bryant also played terrific defense at the hot corner, with 3 defensive runs saved (DRS), fifth-best among qualified third basemen, and an Ultimate Zone Rating of 4.8, which was also fifth-best.
Duffy, Kang, Philadelphia's Odubel Herrera and others certainly impressed in 2015. But none were as good as Bryant, making him an easy unanimous selection as the National League Rookie of the Year.