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Kris Bryant

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Kris Bryant
2016-10-22 Kris Bryant 1 (cropped2).jpg
Bryant during the 2016 season
Chicago Cubs – No. 17
Third baseman
Born: (1992-01-04) January 4, 1992 (age 26)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 2015, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
(through 2018 season)
Batting average .285
Home runs 107
Runs batted in 326
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Kristopher Lee Bryant (born January 4, 1992) is an American professional baseball third baseman for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to playing professionally, Bryant attended the University of San Diego, where he played college baseball for the Toreros.

Bryant starred in baseball for Bonanza High School. In college, Bryant was named an All-American in 2012 and 2013, and won the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award in 2013. The Cubs selected him with the second overall selection in the 2013 MLB draft and he quickly became one of the top prospects in baseball, winning the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year Award and Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2014.

Bryant made his major league debut in 2015. He was named an MLB All-Star and won the National League's (NL) Rookie of the Year Award. He was again named an All-Star in 2016, won a World Series championship with the Cubs, and was named the NL's Most Valuable Player.

Amateur career[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.[1] USA Today named him to their All-USA baseball first-team in 2010.[2] 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.[3]

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 by Louisville Slugger[4] and the West Coast Conference (WCC) Co-Freshman of the Year and Co-Player of the Year, sharing both honors with Marco Gonzales.[2][5] Following his freshman season at San Diego, Bryant played collegiate summer baseball for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he batted 29-for-130 (.223) with three home runs and 16 RBIs.[6]

As a sophomore in 2012, Bryant batted .366 with a .671 SLG, 14 home runs, and 57 RBIs. He was again named first team All-WCC and he was also 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, the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Player of the Year.[15][16]

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,[2][17][18] The Houston Astros, who had the first overall pick, scouted Bryant.[19] Bryant believed he would be chosen by the Colorado Rockies, who had the third selection of the draft.[20]

After the Astros selected pitcher Mark Appel with the first overall selection, the Chicago Cubs chose Bryant with the second pick.[21] This choice was surprising as the Cubs were expected to select a pitcher.[20] The Cubs later acknowledged that they would have selected Appel had he still been available.[22] Many baseball executives and scouts agreed that Bryant was the safest pick in the draft. He was also rated as the best hitter in the draft because of his abilities hitting for power and making contact on inside fastballs as well as down-and-away curveballs.[23] Bryant and the Cubs came to terms on a contract with a $6.7 million signing bonus two days prior to the signing deadline.[24]

Bryant began his professional career with the Boise Hawks of the Class A-Short Season Northwest League, where he batted .354 with four home runs. He was promoted to the Daytona Cubs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League on August 12.[25] He hit .333 with five home runs for Daytona.[26] 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.[27] He was named the MVP of the AFL after hitting .364/.457/.727 with six home runs in 20 games.[28]

Bryant started 2014 with the Tennessee Smokies of the Class AA Southern League. In June, he won the Home Run Derby and participated in the All-Star game.[29] On June 18, the Cubs promoted Bryant to the Iowa Cubs of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League after batting .355 with 22 home runs and 58 RBIs in 68 games with Tennessee.[30] He played in the All-Star Futures Game in July.[31] At the end of the regular season, Bryant's 43 combined home runs between Tennessee and Iowa won him the Joe Bauman Home Run Award.[32] Bryant was named the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year and Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year.[33][34] Baseball America named him the No. 1 prospect in 2015.[35]

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 nine home runs, which led all players. He had a .425 with a .477 on-base percentage and a 1.175 slugging percentage.[36] Despite his performance, the Cubs elected to send Bryant back down to Iowa. 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".[37] In seven games with the Iowa, Bryant hit three home runs and batted .321.[36]

Chicago Cubs[edit]

2015 season[edit]

On April 17, 2015, Bryant was called up to the majors by the Cubs.[38][39] He made his debut that day at Wrigley Field, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.[40] The next day at Wrigley, Bryant recorded his first hit, an RBI single.[41] Bryant hit his first major league home run on May 9, off Milwaukee Brewers' Kyle Lohse. His second home run came two days later at Wrigley Field against the New York Mets off Jacob deGrom.[42][43] Bryant finished the month of May with a .265 batting average, seven home runs, 22 RBIs, and 16 walks, and was named the NL Rookie of the Month for May.[44]

Bryant's first career grand slam came on June 17 in the ninth inning off David Murphy in a 17–0 win against the Cleveland Indians.[45] 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 Jarred Cosart. This made him the second Cubs rookie to hit two grand slams since Billy Williams in 1961.[46] 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.[47] On July 25, against the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryant flew out at the warning track for the last out of Cole Hamels' no-hitter.[48] On July 27, Bryant hit his first career walk-off home run, a two-run shot, off John Axford in a 9–8 win over the Colorado Rockies.[49]

On September 6, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bryant hit a 495-foot (151 m) home run, the longest of the 2015 MLB season, off Rubby De La Rosa.[50] 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.[51] On September 22, Bryant passed Williams for the most home runs by a Cubs rookie, with 26.[52] In 151 games of his first season in the Majors, Bryant batted .275 with 26 home runs, 31 doubles, and 99 RBIs, which were the most for a rookie since Albert Pujols's 130 for the St. Louis Cardinals 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.[53]

With the Cubs finishing the season, 97–65, the team clinched a Wild Card spot in the MLB postseason, their first playoff berth in seven years.[54] Despite Bryant not having any hits in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game, the Cubs shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4–0, and advanced to the 2015 National League Division Series (NLDS), 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.[55] The Cubs won the series winning three-games-to-one, but lost to the New York Mets in the 2015 National League Championship Series (NLCS) in a four-game sweep. 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.[56] 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).[57] Bryant won the Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award for the National League, becoming the first Cub to earn it since Soto in 2008.[58] 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.[59] He was also named by his fellow players as the "Players Choice Awards" National League Outstanding Rookie.[60]

After the 2015 season, Bryant filed a grievance against the Cubs for delaying his call-up to the majors for the purpose of delaying his free agency.[61] 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."[62] As of April 2017, the grievance has yet to reach a hearing.[63]

2016 season[edit]

The Cubs gave Bryant a $652,000 salary for the 2016 season, a 38% increase over his rookie salary.[64] On June 27, 2016, against the Cincinnati Reds, 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 with 16 total bases in the 11–8 win.[65] 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.[66] 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.[67]

Bryant batting for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field

From the All-Star Break to the start of September, Bryant had a batting average of .346. On August 18, he became the second player in major league history to record five hits and five RBIs in two games in one season, joining 1945 MVP Phil Cavarretta of the Cubs.[68] 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.[69] Overall, he led the league with 121 runs scored and 7.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) per Baseball-Reference.com, and finished 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.[68]

The Cubs won the National League Central division title.[70] Bryant recorded hits in all four games against the San Francisco Giants in the 2016 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 2016 NLCS.[71] 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.[72] During the 2016 postseason, Bryant hit for a .308 average with three home runs and eight RBIs.[73]

Bryant concluded the 2016 season by winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in his second year in the major leagues.[68] 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.[74] In addition, he became 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).[68] Bryant also won the Hank Aaron Award as the National League's most outstanding hitter.[75]

2017 season[edit]

Bryant and the Cubs agreed to a $1.05 million contract before the 2017 season,[76] a new record salary for a pre-arbritation player, previously held by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels who earned $1 million in 2014.[77]

In 2017, Bryant finished second in fan voting to Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies as the starting NL third baseman in the 2017 All-Star Game.[78] He finished second in the All-Star Final Vote, behind Justin Turner, and did not make the All-Star team.[79] Following the All Star Break, on July 25, Bryant was ejected for the first time in his major league career after arguing a third strike call.[80] That August, MLB and the MLBPA introduced Players Weekend for the first time. Bryant chose to wear "KB" on his jersey.[81] Finishing the regular season with a .295 average, 29 home runs, and 73 RBIs,[82] the Cubs won their second consecutive Central Division title and earned their third consecutive appearance in the postseason.[83] The Cubs defeated the Washington Nationals in the 2017 NLDS, with Bryant batting .200 in the series without a home run.[84] The Cubs lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 NLCS.[85] Bryant batted .200 with one home run in the NLCS.[86]

2018 season[edit]

In his first year of salary arbitration, Bryant and the Cubs agreed to a $10.85 million salary for the 2018 season, breaking the record for a player in his first year of salary arbitration, previously held by Ryan Howard when he signed a $10 million contract in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies.[87] In February, Sports Illustrated ranked Bryant as the third-overall best player in baseball, trailing Mike Trout and José Altuve.[88] In a May 9 game against the Miami Marlins, Bryant hit his 100th home run, becoming the 22nd Cubs player to reach the mark, and the quickest to reach the mark. He hit his 100th home run in his 487th game, barely eclipsing the previous mark of 500 games set by Ernie Banks.[89] On June 26, Bryant was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his MLB career due to left shoulder inflammation, retroactive three days prior.[90] On July 26, Bryant went back on the disabled list due to inflammation on the same shoulder.[91]

Awards[edit]

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

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.[2]

Bryant's father, Mike, played in minor league baseball for the Boston Red Sox organization.[2][95] Mike owned a patio furniture store but sold it in order to get a job that permitted him to coach his son.[96]

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.[97]

Bryant proposed to long-time girlfriend Jessica Delp in December 2015. They both grew up in Las Vegas and had dated since they were 16.[98] They were married on January 7, 2017, with one of the groomsmen being Bryant's teammate, Anthony Rizzo.[99]

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