Yes, Kris Bryant's everything they said

BY foxsports • September 2, 2015

There were a couple of brief moments during the 2015 championship season when it seemed that Kris Bryant would not be the National League's Rookie of the Year: early April, when the Cubs sent him to Iowa to save a few million dollars; and early June, when Joc Pederson homered in five straight games and pushed his slugging percentage past .600 (with a nifty on-base percentage to boot).

Now it's a runaway. For one thing, Bryant's easily been the best context-neutral rookie in the majors this season. Over at FanGraphs, he's got the fifth-best WAR among ALL National League players. Among rookies, Jung-ho Kang is 16th and Pederson is 23rd. Over at Baseball Prospectus, Bryant dominates similarly (except Pederson is a lot farther behind because BP's method really doesn't like his defense).

So there's that.

But there's also this: Bryant's been great in the clutch this season. Granted, Rookie of the Year voters seem less interested than MVP voters in this category, but don't you just want to know who had the best year? And aren't big hits a part of that?

I was reminded of Bryant's clutchiness by this:

Granted, in the ninth he made an error at third base that wound up killing the Cubs. Which isn't usually counted in the clutch metrics (but of course all the errors are counted in WAR).

Anyway, what's perhaps most striking about Bryant's season is how many actual wins he's produced for the Cubs. His combination of the third-best (in the National League) Clutch performance and general hitting excellence place him fourth in the entire league in WPA.

Clutch isn't predictive at all, but both it and WPA are "story stats" ... and there's nothing an award voter loves more than a good story.

Meanwhile, remember all the hand-wringing about those two weeks Bryant spent in Iowa? The Cubs are five games behind the Pirates in the wild-card standings, and six games ahead of the Giants. So it still seems highly unlikely that those two weeks will make any difference at all for the Cubs this season. 

Bryant's been tremendous this season. But nobody's that tremendous.



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