By: Omar V. Gobby
The Cubs’ third baseman won unanimous selection as the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year on Monday. To most baseball analysts, this was a foregone conclusion, as Bryant paced NL Rookies in virtually every major category in 2015.
Bryant put his stamp on this team early, as he hit .318 with a .455 OBP in April. He did not hit his first home run until Game #21, but still had 12 of those by the All Star break, on his way to 26.
More impressively, Bryant did something that only one other rookie has ever done in MLB history by compiling 25+ HR (26), 75+BB (77) and 85+ runs (87). That other rookie DID surpass Bryant in those numbers with 31, 107, and 131, respectively…but he also happened to be the man who many consider the greatest hitter in MLB history: Teddy Ballgame himself, Ted Williams.
No, I am not suggesting by any means that Bryant will be the next Ted Williams. But I do suggest that, unlike some previous top rookies, Bryant should have some staying power. This was not an unknown Joe Charbonneau coming out of nowhere to win the Award. This was Kris Bryant, former Dick Howser Award (2013) as top amateur player and former Minor League Player of the Year (2014) who was expected to be a star, and delivered. So many top prospects crash and burn, so to have Bryant succeed was no guaranteed thing. Yet, succeed he has.
The only question with Bryant moving forward seems to be which position he will man for the 2016 Cubs? With holes in the outfield, and a seeming surplus in the infield, many have anticipated a permanent move to either left or right field for Bryant, and he more than held his own there defensively in the opportunities he did have (98 innings, 21 chances, 0 errors). Of course, this may change if the Cubs decide to move someone form among Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, or Jorge Soler…but that is a topic for another time…
–OMAR V GOBBY