Just as Bryce Harper was the easy choice for the NL MVP Award last season, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is the obvious choice this year.
The Cubs are on pace to win over 100 games this season. They’ve already clinched the NL Central and currently own the best record in the MLB. A big reason for their success has been Kris Bryant and what he’s been able to do offensively.
Bryant, 24, is in his second year in the majors. He had a very impressive rookie season with the Cubs last year. He batted .275 with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs. He also had a .488 slugging percentage. This stellar season earned Bryant an All-Star appearance, as well as the NL Rookie of the Year Award. The Cubs made the playoffs and eventually lost to the New York Mets in the NLCS.
Just like his team, Bryant had very high expectations going into the 2016 season. He showed a lot of potential during his first year. Looking at how he’s performed in 2016, he’s definitely been able to live up to those expectations.
Bryant has undoubtably put up MVP-caliber numbers. He’s hitting .295 with 38 homers and 99 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .387, and his slugging percentage is up to .564. He has scored an NL-leading 117 runs. Back in July, he started at third base for the NL All-Star team. This has been a season to remember for Bryant.
On a team loaded with offensive talent, Bryant has managed to stand out. The entire starting infield for the NL All-Star Team this year was made up of Cubs players. Bryant, Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo were all starters for the NL. All four are extremely talented players.
Not only has Bryant been able to stand out on a very good Chicago Cubs team, but he’s also been able to separate himself from other top players in the NL. His main competition for NL MVP right now includes Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Murphy is probably the only one out this group that has a real chance to catch Bryant. He’s hitting .347 with 25 home runs and 104 RBIs. He’s second in the NL in batting average and tied for second in RBIs. It’s sort of odd that Murphy and not Bryce Harper is the Nationals player that has a chance to win MVP this year. No one really expected Murphy to have this kind of season when Washington signed him this past offseason.
Arenado has put up the stats to compete with Murphy and Bryant for MVP. He’s batting .292 and leads the NL in home runs and RBIs with 39 and 128 respectively. The only problem is that he’s on the Rockies. Colorado is currently under .500 and has already been eliminated from playoff contention. Usually, the MVP goes to a player on a team that reaches the postseason. Last season was an exception, as Bryce Harper won the award even though the Nationals did not make the playoffs. This was really because there was no other player in the National League in 2015 that had comparable stats to Harper.
In the end, it will probably come down to Bryant, Murphy and Arenado. Murphy and Bryant have an edge because they are on teams that are going to the playoffs. Even though Murphy has had a really impressive season, Bryant is the clear choice for NL MVP. He has stood out on a Cubs team that has the best young talent in the sport. That’s no easy feat.