Ask any Chicago Cubs fan and he or she will tell you that Kris Bryant was a shoe-in for the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Award. Apparently, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) agreed. Bryant was the unanimous choice for this year’s Rookie of the Year Award by the BBWAA, and first choice by the IBWAA. He is the first Cubs player in franchise history to be selected unanimously by the BBWAA, receiving all 30 possible first place votes, giving him 150 points. The second place winner, Matt Duffy of the San Francisco Giants, received 70 votes. In IBWAA voting, Bryant received 167 first-place votes (92.78%) and 864 points. He was named on 178 of 180 ballots (98.89%). The last Cubs player to win the Rookie of the Year Award was Geovany Soto in 2008.
The only other Cubs players to receive the Rookie of the Year Award were outfielder Billy Williams in 1961, infielder Ken Hubbs in 1962, outfielder Jerome Walton in1989, and right-handed pitcher Kerry Wood in 1998. That is only a total of six players in Cubs history to win the award. His hitting and fielding contributions helped the Cubs win the 2015 National League Division Title.
“I would have been shocked if Kris Bryant had not won the award,” said long time Cubs fan Scott Cipinko. “However it is astounding that he is the first ever Cubs Rookie of the Year to be selected by unanimous vote. It is well deserved, especially when you consider his late start and the fact that he played five defensive positions (left field,center field, right field, third base and first base) and played them all well without a complaint or a significant error in the “off” positions. He is a special player.”
Despite being called up two weeks after the season started, Bryant his achievements in his rookie year were tremendous. He was named to the 2015 National League All-Star team, he led all major league rookies in home runs (tied), and he had 99 RBIs, 31 doubles and 87 runs scored. He placed second in walks with 77. He is only the second player in major league history to reach those numbers in his rookie year. The other was Boston’s Ted Williams in 1939. Bryant also set rookie franchise records in home runs, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits.
Bryant was the sixth rookie in Cubs history to make the National League All-Star team and the first since Soto and Kosuke Fukudome in 2008. He was the team’s first rookie infielder to make the All-Star team since second baseman Don Johnson in 1944, and one of the youngest, at 23 years old, third baseman to make the All-Star team since a 23-year-old Ron Santo was named to the team in 1963.
According to the Cubs, overall, Bryant batted .275 (154-for-559) with a .369 on-base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage in 151 games this season. He earned National League Rookie of the Month honors in May and August, becoming only the second Cubs rookie to earn multiple honors in a season. The other was Soto, who won twice in 2008. Bryant was also recently named Rookie of the Year by Baseball America and The Sporting News.
As special as Bryant is, he is unlikely to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award, to be announced tomorrow. That honor is most likely to go to the Nationals’ Bryce Harper.
“Harper is the MVP,” said Cipinko. “I think the voting will be such that Kris may receive a handful of second place votes.”
We will find out tomorrow.