Kris Bryant lived up to all of the hype and his contributions to a 97-win Cubs’ team led to him being unanimously named the National League Rookie of the Year.
Baseball America, the Sporting News, the MLBPA and the IBWAA also voted Bryant as the NL Rookie of the Year for 2015.
Kris Bryant became the sixth player in franchise history to be named National League Rookie of the Year. Bryant joined Billy Williams (1961), Ken Hubbs (1962), Jerome Walton (1989), Kerry Wood (1998) and Geovany Soto (2008) as the six players that have been named the league’s best first-year player by the BBWAA.
The last three years Kris Bryant has been the College Player of the Year (2013), Minor League Player of the Year (2014) and National League Rookie of the Year (2015).
Bryant lined up at five different positions this past season and saw time in all three outfield spots. Bryant made steady improvement at third base. Bryant seemed to really settle in defensively at the hot corner when Addison Russell moved to shortstop.
For the season, Bryant batted .275/.369/.488 with 31 doubles, five triples and 26 home runs for a .858 OPS in 151 games. Bryant played in the All-Star Game in Cincinnati after batting .269/.376/.472 with 14 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs in his first 78 games. Bryant was National League Rookie of the Month in May and August and had an excellent final two-plus months of the regular season.
After the break, Bryant batted .282/.361/.505 with 17 doubles, one triple and 14 home runs for a .867 OPS. Bryant hit .330/.422/.620 with a 1.042 OPS in August and used the schedule to his advantage to get back on track after a rough July.
Offensively, Bryant was night and day at Wrigley Field compared to the road. Bryant hit .311/.408/.629 with 14 doubles, four triples and 21 home runs for a 1.037 OPS in 76 home games. Outside of Wrigley, Bryant managed a .243/.333/.360 slash line with a .693 OPS.
Bryant excelled with runners on base and in scoring position. With the bases empty, Bryant put together a .248/.329/.415 slash line. When there were runners on, Bryant batted .308/.414/.577 with a .991 OPS and 16 of his 26 homers came with a teammate on base. With runners in scoring position, Bryant batted .292/.417/.489 with a .906 OPS and with RISP and two outs, Bryant hit .350/.473/.567 with a 1.040 OPS.
During his rookie season, Bryant set Cubs’ franchise marks for home runs (26) and RBI (99) by a first-year player that were previously held by Billy Williams.
Kris Bryant led all rookies this past season in many offensive categories including on-base percentage (.369), slugging percentage (.488), OPS (.858). home runs (26, tied with Joc Pederson), RBI (99), doubles (31) and runs scored (87). Bryant finished second in walks (77). And Bryant joined Ted Williams (1939) as the only two players in Major League history that reached 26 home runs, 99 RBI, 31 doubles, 87 runs and 77 walks in his rookie season.
Kris Bryant provided numerous memorable moments during his Rookie of the Year season. Here are 10 of the best in chronological order …
April 20 vs. Pirates at PNC Park – Bryant Breaks Out, Arrieta Beats the Bucs – Cubs 5, Pirates 2
Kris Bryant made his big league debut April 11 and it was nine days later in Pittsburgh that he collected the first three-hit game of his career.
Bryant drove in three of the Cubs five runs and scored the fourth on a Little League Home Run. Bryant went 3-for-4 with a double, three RBI, a walk and a run scored. And Jake Arrieta picked up his second win of the season while setting a personal milestone. Arrieta struck out Francisco Cervelli in the seventh inning for career strikeout No. 500.
May 11 vs. Mets at Wrigley Field – Bryant and Rizzo Jacks Back Lester – Cubs 4, Mets 3
Kris Bryant christened the new bleachers in left field. Bryant took Jacob deGrom deep in the first inning, a two-run shot with Dexter Fowler on board. Bryant hit the first home run into the crowd on Opening Night in the left field bleachers.
Anthony Rizzo followed Bryant with a solo shot to right, and for the first time ‘Bryzzo’ hit back-to-back jacks in a game that counted. Rizzo launched deGrom’s next pitch following the Bryant blast into the construction zone beyond the right field ivy.
Bryant ended up 1-for-2 with two RBI and two walks after hitting his first Wrigley Field home run.
June 22 vs. Dodgers at Wrigley Field – Bryant, Szczur Supply the Thunder in Cubs Win over Kershaw – Cubs 4, Dodgers 2
The Dodgers made their way to Wrigley and no one gave the Cubs a chance in the first two games of the four-game set. With Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on the hill, the questions at the time were would the Cubs be no-hit in consecutive games.
Kris Bryant recorded the first multi-homer game of his career. Bryant took Kershaw deep to right, a two-run shot in the third. Bryant became the first player to hit a Kershaw curveball out of the park in over a year (May 11, 2014). Matt Szczur smashed a solo homer off Kershaw in the seventh.
Bryant gave the Cubs a much-needed insurance run in the eighth with a mammoth homer to left off Adam Liberatore. And he made his first curtain call after he rounded the bases for the second time on the night.
July 4 vs. Marlins at Wrigley Field – Kris Bryant’s Grand Night – Cubs 7, Marlins 2
With the newly acquired Clayton Richard on the hill, Kris Bryant supplied the early fireworks at Wrigley Field on Independence Day.
Bryant hit not one, but two very long home runs off Jarred Cosart, the second was a Grand Slam in just the second inning. It was Bryant’s second career slam, first off a pitcher and not a position player pitching in mop up duty.
Kris Bryant went 2-for-4 with two home runs and six RBI as the Cubs cruised to a Fourth of July victory at the old ballyard.
July 27 vs. Rockies at Wrigley Field – Bryant’s Big Fly Walks Off the Rockies – Cubs 9, Rockies 8
The Cubs looked like they had put the horrible weekend against the Phillies behind them. Well, at least before the top of the ninth inning. The Rockies scored four runs in the top of the ninth off Jason Motte and Rafael Soriano and took an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
With Dexter Fowler at first base and two outs, Bryant obliterated a 1-0 pitch from John Axford. The ball sailed into the bleachers in left center. And Bryant lifted the Cubs to a win with the first walk-off homer of his career.
August 19 vs. Tigers at Wrigley Field – Tigers Light Up Lester, Take Two-Game Series from the Cubs – Tigers 15, Cubs 8
On an otherwise bad night for the Cubs, Kris Bryant collected the first four-hit game of his career. Bryant was one of the bright spots in a rare blowout loss.
Bryant went 4-for-4 with a home run, a triple, a walk, two RBI and two runs scored.
August 24 vs. Indians at Wrigley Field – Bryant Goes Boom and Walks Off the Indians – Cubs 2, Indians 1
In a make-up game with the Indians on a Monday afternoon in late August, Kris Bryant supplied one of the most memorable moments of the season. Jon Lester and Corey Kluber locked in a pitcher’s duel for eight innings. Lester took a 1-0 lead into the ninth but gave up a run that tied the game.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Bryant went oppo on the first pitch from Zach McAllister. Bryant’s solo shot, his second walk off homer in a month, lifted the Cubs to a 2-1 win before a six-game road trip to the West Coast.
September 6 vs. Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field – A Bryant Blast, A Miggy Slam and A Cubs Sweep – Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 4
Kris Bryant hit the longest home run in the big leagues during the 2015 season in the fifth inning. Bryant annihilated a 0-2 pitch from Rubby De La Rosa that hit off the scoreboard in left field. Bryant’s blast tied the game at one after traveling 495 feet.
Miguel Montero supplied the game winner, a Grand Slam in the sixth inning off lefty Matt Reynolds that broke a 1-1 tie.
September 22 vs. Brewers at Wrigley Field – Twenty Wins for Jake Arrieta – Cubs 4, Brewers 0
Kris Bryant’s accomplishment did not receive the attention it deserved at the time. While Jake Arrieta was in the middle of a second half that no one had ever seen and marching toward a NL Cy Young Award, Bryant broke Billy Williams’ franchise rookie record for home runs.
Bryant passed Mr. Williams with a two-run shot in the third inning with Kyle Schwarber along for the ride. Bryant hit his 26th home run and last longball of the regular season as part of a 2-for-4 night that included a double and three RBI.
Kris Bryant fittingly finished his season with 26 home runs, a new franchise record for home runs in a single season by a rookie.
October 12 vs. Cardinals at Wrigley Field – Cubs Take League in Series Behind Historic Home Run Parade – Cubs 8, Cardinals 6
With the NLDS tied at a game apiece, playoff baseball returned to Wrigley Field for Game 3 against the Cardinals. And the Cubs put on a power display behind Jake Arrieta.
Kris Bryant gave the Cubs the lead for good in the fifth inning with a two-run shot off Michael Wacha with Jorge Soler along for the ride. Anthony Rizzo followed Bryant and the back-to-back jacks gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead. The Cubs went on to win Game 3 by a final of 8-6.
The Cubs set a record in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs became the first team in post-season history to hit six home runs in a single-game and have six different players hit the homers. The first six batters in the Cubs’ lineup that night all went deep: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro, Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler.