It was not a surprise that he won, but the manner in which he did is a Major League accomplishment. On Monday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted Chicago Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year. In fact, Bryant received all 30 first-place votes, making him the 11th National Leaguer -- and the 20th rookie in either league -- to win the award unanimously.
MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reported the news early Monday evening, reminding us that Bryant is the sixth Cub ever to win the award, which began with the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson in 1947. The other five Cubs include Hall of Fame left fielder Billy Williams in 1961, second baseman Ken Hubbs in 1962 (who died two years later), center fielder Jerome Walton in 1989, pitcher Kerry Wood in 1998, and catcher Geovany Soto in 2008.
McCalvy quoted the Cubs' rookie sensation upon Bryant's hearing of the unanimous vote. Said Bryant,
"It's been just an incredible year for me.... I just went out there, played as hard as I can with a little chip on my shoulder. Things turned out great. We won, we went really far in the playoffs, and I think we surprised a lot of teams. I think moving on from this season, the future is so bright for this team."
That "chip" refers to the 12 days in which the Cubs kept Bryant in Triple-A at the beginning of the season in order to maintain one more year of control on their young and upcoming superstar.
Bryant and the Cubs made Cub fans forget all about those 12 days as they won 97 games, the third-highest total in the Major Leagues, earned a National League wild card berth, and finished the season as NLDS winners. Unfortunately, they lost four straight to the New York Mets in the NLCS, but that takes nothing away from the season that the Cubs, particularly Bryant, had. In fact, Bryant finished his 2015 season/postseason in terrific fashion -- with a home run.
Bryant finished the season hitting .275/.369/.488 with 26 HR and 99 RBI. His average was ninth among all qualifying N.L. rookies, but his home run and RBI totals each led the pack. His 26 home runs and 99 RBI set new Cubs rookie records, both previously held by Williams.
In addition, among all National Leaguers, Bryant finished tied for fifth with Washington's Bryce Harper in RBI and tied for 14th with Cincinnati's Jay Bruce in home runs. Bryant also managed to steal 13 based and score 87 runs. His only downfall was his very high strikeout total of 199, which led the National League and was second in all of baseball (Chris Davis, Baltimore, 208).
Bryant hit the longest home run of 2015 on September 6 when he launched a ball off the top-left corner of Wrigley Field's new jumbo scoreboard in left field.
Statcast estimated the distance at 495 feet, but that is only where the ball made initial contact.
Congratulations to Kris Bryant on becoming the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year. Cub fans look forward to a repeat performance and even more from Bryant and the Cubs in 2016.