Chicago Cubs: Face of the Franchise
|Friday, November 18, 2016, 4:17 PM- -|
CHICAGO -- It’s no secret, Kris Bryant was your virtual unanimous MVP for the 2016 baseball season. Bryant’s success in baseball is no fluke, as he has been raking in the praises since early childhood. His defense is proven to be fantastic and can play just about every position of the field with ease like he belongs there. He’s a smart hitter, being able to hit to every field, not just a pull hitter like most other power hitters. But where he excels is his strength and natural uppercut swing. Just ask the Cincinnati Reds about the power and plate prowess he possesses.
“Silk,” a nickname given to him as a kid by none other than former teammate Bryce Harper, is a workhorse with a future brighter than most can ever dream of having. He had a great coach in his dad, Mike Bryant, a former player for the Boston Red Sox. Kris and his brother Nick were both taught by Mike; Nick was good, Kris was always exceptional. At the age of five, when Kris tried out for the youth baseball players in Las Vegas, he hit several pitches deep, one of them an astounding 180 feet – at the age of five! By age 10, he was hitting home runs in most major league ballparks.
Fast-forwarding a bit, Kris played college ball at San Diego State University, where during his junior year he hit 31 home runs in the season. May not sound like much to some, but here’s the real perspective on it – his 31 home runs were more than 223 division 1 entire teams’ total home runs for the season. He was a monster at the plate. This ultimately helped him become the 2nd overall draft pick by the Cubs in 2013. Thanks, Houston, for selecting Mark Appel over Kris, the Cubs appreciate that!
Where the title of this article comes into play is that with Kris becoming the MVP in 2016, he became one of nine other Cubs to win the MVP in the history of the great franchise, joining the likes of Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and Ernie Banks. He also won the rookie of the year last year, the first ever unanimous decision since the inception of the prestigious award.
Kris also joins a unique group of four men who have won the rookie of the year and the MVP in their very next season – Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Howard, and Cal Ripken. He also joins only Bryce Harper and Buster Posey as the only players to ever win the Golden Spikes Award (best amateur player), rookie of the year, and MVP (but not in consecutive seasons for this accolade).
But where Kris makes himself stand out as the only player in baseball HISTORY to win the collegiate player of the year, the minor league player of the year, the rookie of the year, and finally the MVP – all in succession. Here’s a timeline of how this happened.
2013 – Bryant wins the Golden Spikes award, putting up video game type numbers while playing at the University of San Diego while setting records in almost every offensive category known to man.
2014 – Kris plays in the minors, being promoted all the way up to Triple-A, where he hit a combined .325 with 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A, earning the minor league player of the year award in the process.
2015 – Bryant wins the rookie of the year award after helping the Cubs to a 97 win season, hitting .275 with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs. Baseball’s first ever unanimous rookie of the year award winner.
2016 – Kris has the best season of his young career, batting .292 with 39 hr’s and 102 rbi’s, leading the league with 122 runs scored. Almost unanimous MVP vote, receiving 29 out of 30 first place votes.
The future is surely bright for the young star, who – by the way – is also getting married in January. He’s become the face of this franchise, as well as many promotions – MLB, express for men, and other countless sponsors. The only question is where does it go from here for Kris? Back to back titles would be nice. Hitting 50 home runs in a season would be outstanding. Seeing him with what I call the “traumatizing trio” – Bryant/Rizzo/Schwarber will be amazing for one full season. I know I wouldn’t want to be a pitcher to face that lineup for a whole game.