The Cubs rookies had a sensational season for a team that won 101 games and made a trip to the National League Championship Series. Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber made an impact while learning how to be big leaguers.
Kris Bryant has already been named Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year and the Sporting News’ NL Rookie of the Year. Bryant is the first player to be named Baseball America’s College Player of Year, Minor League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in successive years.
When the results of the BBWAA voting are announced on Nov. 16, barring something unforeseen, he will be named the National League Rookie of the Year by the baseball writers.
Bryant should become the sixth Rookie of the Year in franchise history joining Billy Williams (1961), Ken Hubbs (1962), Jerome Walton (1989), Kerry Wood (1998) and Geovany Soto (2008).
Kris Bryant put together a special first season in the big leagues, one that included a trip to the Midsummer Classic, and two unforgettable walk-off home runs. Bryant set Cubs’ rookie records for home runs (26) and RBI (99) that were previously held by Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams. Bryant got hot over the last two-plus months and helped the Cubs win 97 games in the regular season.
Bryant made his much anticipated debut on April 17 against the Padres at Wrigley Field. Bryant hit cleanup and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against James Shields. Bryant collected his first hit the next day, a single off Tyson Ross that plated Dexter Fowler and tied the game. The Cubs went on to beat the Padres 7-6 in 11 innings on a Starlin Castro single. Bryant went 2-for-3 with three walks and a RBI.
Over his first 12 games, Bryant hit .318/.455/.409 with four doubles and 10 walks.
Bryant cranked his first home run on May 9 in a loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. Bryant took Kyle Lohse deep in the third inning and returned to an empty dugout.
Bryant batted .265/.369/.510 with two doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a .879 OPS in 28 games in May. Bryant christened the new left field bleachers with his first homer at Wrigley on May 11.
It was more of the same for Bryant in June. In 27 games, Bryant hit .267/.359/.446 with seven doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .805 OPS. Bryant hit a wall in July despite hitting one of the biggest homers of the season for his team. Bryant cooled off to a .168/.270/.368 line with three doubles, two triples and four home runs.
Bryant finished the first half with a .269/.376/.472 slash line. In 78 games, Bryant had 14 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs and a .849 OPS while showing steady improvement defensively at third base.
After making an adjustment with John Mallee, Bryant took off in August and did not slow down for two months.
Bryant batted .330/.422/.620 with six doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a 1.042 OPS in 28 games in August. Bryant was named the NL Rookie of the Month.
In September with the Cubs trying to catch up to the Pirates and Cardinals, Bryant hit .336/.383/.561 with nine doubles and five home runs for a .943 OPS.
Kris Bryant played in 73 games after the break and hit .282/.361/.505 with 17 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs for a .867 OPS.
The post-season did not go as well for Bryant as he managed only six hits in nine games, but four of the six went for extra bases. Bryant was 6-for-34 (.176/.243/.441) with a double, a triple, a home run and three walks for a .684 OPS. Bryant’s final at bat of the year was a two-run home run at Wrigley.
Defensively, Bryant spent a majority of his first season at third base. Bryant also played a game at first base and lined up in all three outfield spots. Bryant’s hard work at third base showed, especially his throws across the diamond, and he really looked comfortable at the hot corner when Addison Russell took over at shortstop.
Bryant played in 151 games and stepped to the plate 650 times. Bryant hit .275/.369/.488/.858 with 31 doubles, five triples, 26 home runs, 77 walks, 199 strikeouts and 99 RBI.
Kris Bryant had a really good rookie season, and he should only get better.