Kris Bryant

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Kris Bryant
2016-10-26 Kris Bryant receives Hank Aaron Award (cropped).jpg
Bryant holding the Hank Aaron Award in 2016
Chicago Cubs – No. 17
Third baseman / Outfielder
Born: (1992-01-04) January 4, 1992 (age 25)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 2015, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
(through June 21, 2017)
Batting average .280
Home runs 80
Runs batted in 229
Stolen bases 27
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Kristopher Lee Bryant (born January 4, 1992) is an American professional baseball third baseman and outfielder for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). Bryant attended the University of San Diego,[1] where he played college baseball for the Toreros, and won the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award his junior year in 2013. The Cubs selected him number-two overall in the 2013 MLB draft and he quickly became one of the top prospects in baseball. Bryant made his major league debut in 2015 and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award that year. He won a World Series championship with the Cubs in 2016 and was named the National League Most Valuable Player that same year.

Amateur career[edit]

High school[edit]

Bryant attended Bonanza High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Playing for the school's varsity baseball team all four years, he recorded a .418 batting average, a .958 slugging percentage (SLG), 103 hits, and 47 career home runs. He also played American Legion Baseball.[2] He was named to the 2010 USA Today All-USA baseball first-team.[3] The Toronto Blue Jays selected Bryant in the 18th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft. He did not sign, and enrolled at the University of San Diego, to play college baseball for the San Diego Toreros baseball team.[4]

College[edit]

As a freshman at the University of San Diego in 2011, Bryant had a .365 batting average, a .482 on-base percentage (OBP), and a .599 SLG, with nine home runs. He was named a freshman All-American[5] and the West Coast Conference Co-Freshman of the Year and Co-Player of the Year, sharing both honors with Marco Gonzales.[3][6]

As a sophomore in 2012, he was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America.[7] That summer, Bryant was selected by USA Baseball to play for the United States collegiate national team.[8]

In the 2013 season as a junior, Bryant hit 31 home runs to lead the nation. Bryant had the most home runs hit by a college player since the NCAA switched to a BBCOR composite bat in 2011. Bryant broke the previous record of 30 set by Georgia Southern's Victor Roache in 2011[9][10] and amounted to more home runs than 223 of 296 Division I teams hit that season.[11] Bryant won the Golden Spikes Award[12] and the Dick Howser Trophy, which are both awarded to the top collegiate player in the nation.[13][14] He was also named a Louisville Slugger First Team All-American and the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year.[15]

Professional career[edit]

Draft and minor leagues[edit]

Bryant with the Daytona Cubs in September 2013

Bryant was considered to be one of the best available players in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft,[3][16][17] and was scouted by the Houston Astros, who had the first overall pick.[18]

After the Astros selected pitcher Mark Appel with the first overall selection, the Chicago Cubs chose Bryant with the second overall selection.[19] Many baseball executives and scouts agree that Bryant was the safest pick in the draft. He was also rated as the best hitter in the draft because of his easy power from foul pole to foul pole and ability to make contact on inside fastballs as well as down-and-away curveballs.[20] Bryant agreed to a $6.7 million signing bonus with the Cubs two days prior to the signing deadline.[21]

Bryant began his professional career with the Boise Hawks of the Class A-Short Season Northwest League batting .354 with four home runs. He was promoted to the Daytona Cubs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League on August 12.[22] He hit .333 with five home runs for Daytona, and helped them win the Class A-Advanced championship. After the season, he played in Arizona Fall League (AFL). He was named co-player of the week, along with Mitch Haniger, in the first week of the fall league season.[23] He was named the MVP of the AFL after hitting .364/.457/.727 with six home runs in 20 games.[24]

Bryant started 2014 with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. In June, he won the 2014 Southern League Home Run Derby and participated in the All-Star game.[25] On June 18, 2014, Bryant was promoted to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs after batting .355 with 22 home runs and 58 RBI in 68 games with Tennessee.[26] In Keith Law's midseason top prospect update in July 2014, Bryant was ranked as the best prospect in baseball.[27] At the end of the regular season, Bryant was named the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year and Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year and also won the Joe Bauman Home Run Award[28][29] Baseball America named him the No. 1 prospect in 2015.[30]

Bryant playing for the Iowa Cubs in July 2014

Bryant was invited to spring training by the Cubs in 2015. In 40 at-bats, he hit 9 home runs, which led all players. He had a .425 with a .477 on-base percentage and a 1.175 slugging percentage.[31] Despite his performance, the Cubs elected to send Bryant back down to their Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs. Baseball analysts assumed that the service-time rules in baseball was the majority influence on the team's decision; if Bryant were to play 12 days in the minors before being promoted to the majors, the Cubs would receive another year of club control. The MLBPA issued a statement saying, "Today is a bad day for baseball".[32] In seven games with the Iowa Cubs, Bryant hit three home runs and batted .321.[31]

Chicago Cubs[edit]

2015 season[edit]

On April 17, 2015, Bryant was called up to the majors by the Cubs.[33][34] He made his debut that day at Wrigley Field, going 0–4 with three strikeouts and grounded into a fielder's choice, but showed good defense in the 5–4 loss against the San Diego Padres. Following the game, manager Joe Maddon remarked, "We did bring him up for his glove." [35] The next day at Wrigley, Bryant recorded his first hit, an RBI blooper into center field off San Diego's Tyson Ross. Bryant's patience showed in this game as he recorded three walks with no strikeouts, and tallied his first error and stolen base. His hustle played a key role in the team's victory in the 11th inning, as he ran out an infield single to set up the eventual walk-off hit from teammate Starlin Castro.[36] Despite zero home runs in the month of April, Bryant batted for a .318 average, a .455 on-base percentage, and earned 10 walks and 10 RBI.[37]

Beginning the month of May with a 20-game home-run drought, Bryant hit his first major league home run on May 9, 2015, a three-run shot, off of Milwaukee Brewers's Kyle Lohse. His second home run came at Wrigley Field; the first ball hit into the newly opened left-field bleachers.[38] Bryant finished the month of May with a .265 batting average, seven home runs, 22 RBI, and 16 walks, and was awarded the NL Rookie of the Month for May.[39]

Bryant's first career grand slam came on June 17 in the ninth inning off of David Murphy in a 17–0 win against the Cleveland Indians.[40] In a July 4 game against the Miami Marlins, Bryant hit both a two-run home run and his second grand slam of the season off of Jarred Cosart. This made him the second Cubs rookie to hit two grand slams since Billy Williams in 1961.[41] Bryant was selected as an injury replacement selection for Giancarlo Stanton on the National League roster of the All-Star game in Cincinnati, Ohio. He also participated in the Home Run Derby.[42] On July 25, Bryant flied out at the warning track for the last out of Cole Hamels' no-hitter.[43] On July 27, Bryant hit his first career walk-off home run, a two-run home run in a 9–8 win over the Colorado Rockies.[44]

On September 6, Bryant hit a 495-foot (151 m) home run, the longest of the 2015 MLB season. With the home run, Bryant tied Williams (1961) and Geovany Soto (2008), for the Cubs' franchise single-season RBI record for rookies with 86. On September 11, he broke the record by driving in a run with a double.[45] On September 22, Bryant passed Williams for the most home runs by a Cubs rookie, with 26.[46] In 151 games of his first season in the Majors, Bryant batted .275 with 26 home runs, 31 doubles, and 99 RBI. Bryant's 99 RBI were the most for a rookie since Albert Pujols's 130 in 2001. Bryant struck out 199 times, which led the National League and set a new rookie record. According to sales on Major League Baseball's official website, Bryant had the best-selling jersey in all of baseball during the 2015 regular season.[47]

With the Cubs finishing the season, 97–65, the team clinched a Wild Card spot and it was their first playoff berth in seven years. Despite Bryant not having any hits in the 2015 MLB Wild Card Game, the Cubs shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4–0, and advanced to the National League Division Series, where in Game 3, Bryant hit a two-run home run against the rival St. Louis Cardinals to help the Cubs to an 8–6 win.[48] The Cubs won the series in 4 games, but lost to the Mets in the 2015 NLCS. Bryant was named the Baseball America Rookie of the Year for the 2015 season, making him the first in history to win the Baseball America college player, minor league player, and major league rookie of the year awards in successive seasons.[49] He was voted the "Esurance MLB Awards" Best Rookie – by fans, the media, former players, team front-office personnel, and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).[50] Bryant was awarded the Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award for the National League, becoming the first Cub to earn it since Soto in 2008.[51] Further, he was the unanimous winner from the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) of the Jackie Robinson National League Rookie of the Year Award, becoming the 11th National League player to win by a unanimous vote, and the 20th player overall.[52] He was also named by his fellow players as the "Players Choice Awards" National League Outstanding Rookie.[53]

On December 7, 2015, it was reported that Bryant had filed a grievance against the Cubs for delaying his call-up to the majors for the purpose of delaying his free agency.[54] As of June 2016, the grievance had yet to reach a hearing. About the grievance Bryant has said, "For me it’s just important to continue to go out there and do what I do, so that I can help the team in any way possible in where we’re at today,” Bryant added, “It’s just important for me to not even worry about it right now because it takes away from so much of what we have going this year. And that was last year’s news."[55]

2016 season[edit]

Bryant batting for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field

Bryant was acknowledged as one of the most versatile defensive players in baseball in 2016. While his primary position is third base, he played at least one inning at five additional defensive positions during the 2016 season: at first base, left field, right field, center field, and shortstop. On June 27, 2016, against Cincinnati, Bryant became the first MLB player in modern history to hit three home runs and two doubles in the same game; he was 5-for-5 overall.[56]

After leading the National League with 25 home runs in the first half of the season, he was selected to his second consecutive All-Star Game, and first as the starting third baseman. He hit a first-inning home run off Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox, his first career home run in an All-Star Game.[57] In the opening game of a late August series against the National League West-division leading Los Angeles Dodgers, Bryant hit an eighth-inning home run to tie the game and the winning two-run home run in the 10th inning for a 6–4 victory.[58]

From the All-Star Break to the start of September, Bryant had a batting average of .346. He became increasingly mentioned as a top MVP candidate. On August 18, he became the second player in major league history to record five hits and five RBI in two games in one season, joining 1945 MVP Phil Cavarretta of the Cubs.[59] In August, as the Cubs went 22–6, Bryant batted .383, 1.220 OPS, 10 home runs, 22 RBI, and 29 runs scored. He was named the National League Player of the Month for August, his first Player of the Month award.[60] Overall, he led the league with 121 runs scored and 7.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) per Baseball-Reference.com, and was third with 39 home runs and 334 total bases and fourth with a .554 slugging percentage and .939 OPS. He also batted .292 and drove in 102 runs. In each of those categories, Bryant's statistics represented improvements over his rookie season totals.[59]

Kris Bryant (far left) and David Ortiz (far right) pose with Hank Aaron (center left) and commissioner Rob Manfred (center right) after receiving the 2016 Hank Aaron Award

Bryant recorded hits in all four games against the San Francisco Giants in the 2016 National League Division Series (NLDS). In Game 4 with the Cubs down 5–2, Bryant singled to start a four-run rally in the top of the 9th, scoring on a double by Ben Zobrist, as the Cubs advanced to the National League Championship Series (NLCS).[61] The Cubs then won the National League pennant—for the first time since 1945—by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 games to 2. In the World Series, the Cubs came back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit and defeated the Cleveland Indians, to secure their first championship after a 108-year-long drought.[62] During the 2016 postseason, Bryant hit for a .308 average with three home runs and eight RBI.

Bryant concluded the 2016 season by winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in his second year in the major leagues.[59] He became the first player to win a Golden Spikes Award, a Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award, a Rookie of the Year Award, and a Most Valuable Player Award in successive seasons.[63] In addition, he became just the sixth player in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP within his first two seasons, joining Fred Lynn (both in 1975), Cal Ripken Jr. (1982–83), Ichiro Suzuki (both in 2001), Ryan Howard (2005–06), and Dustin Pedroia (2007–08).[59] Bryant also won the Hank Aaron Award as the National League's most outstanding hitter.[64]

Awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Bryant was named his high school's salutatorian, but allowed a classmate to take the role instead when he found out how badly she wanted it.[15] In college, he majored in biology before switching to finance.[3]

Bryant's father, Mike, played in minor league baseball for the Boston Red Sox organization.[3][65] Mike owned a patio furniture store, but sold it in order to get a job that permitted him to coach his son.[66]

Bryant and fellow baseball players Bryce Harper and Joey Gallo grew up as acquaintances in the Las Vegas area, and began playing baseball with each other at the age of 9. Bryant and Harper's friendly competition was displayed in the May 2015 series against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field, when they greeted each other for the first time in the Major Leagues.[67]

Bryant proposed to long-time girlfriend Jessica Delp in December 2015. They both grew up in Las Vegas and have dated since they were 16.[68] They were married on January 7, 2017, with one of the groomsmen being Bryant's teammate, Anthony Rizzo.[69]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]