Why Kris Bryant Won the National League Rookie of the Year Award

The Cubs' third baseman was unanimously selected by the Baseball Writer's Association of America.

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.

Name Team 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Kris Bryant Cubs 30     150
Matt Duffy Giants   22 4 70
Jung Ho Kang Pirates   4 16 28
Noah Syndergaard Mets   3 7 16
Justin Bour Marlins   1 1 4
Joc Pederson Dodgers     1 1
Stephen Piscotty Cardinals     1 1

San Francisco's Matt Duffy finished second, with Pittsburgh's Jung Ho Kang, New York's Noah Syndergaard and Miami's Justin Bour all receiving at least one second place vote.

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.

Kris Bryant Cubs 650 26 99 .275 .369 .488 .371 136 6.5
Matt Duffy Giants 612 12 77 .295 .334 .428 .331 116 4.9
Jung-ho Kang Pirates 467 15 58 .287 .355 .461 .356 130 3.9
Odubel Herrera Phillies 537 8 41 .297 .344 .418 .333 110 3.9
Randal Grichuk Cardinals 350 17 47 .276 .329 .548 .370 137 3.1
Addison Russell Cubs 523 13 54 .242 .307 .389 .304 90 2.9
Joc Pederson Dodgers 585 26 54 .210 .346 .417 .335 115 2.8

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.

Bryce Harper 2012 19 597 22 59 .270 .340 .477 .817
Kris Bryant 2015 23 650 26 99 .275 .369 .488 .858

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.