MLB Awards: Cubs' Kris Bryant runs away with National League MVP award
Bryant earned 29 of 30 possible first-place votes for NL MVP
The BBWAA revealed the results of its voting for National League MVP on Thursday evening and the winner is Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, capping quite a season for the 24-year-old. He topped fellow finalists Daniel Murphy of the Nationals and Dodgers rookie Corey Seager.
Bryant earned 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes, with the only dissenter putting him in second place.
Bryant in two seasons is now a two-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, World Series champion and MVP. This regular season, he hit .292/.385/.554 (149 OPS+) with 35 doubles, 39 home runs, 102 RBI and an NL-best 121 runs. He showed exceptional baserunning through much of the season and defensive versatility that was especially key when Kyle Schwarber was lost for the season during Game 3. This helped Bryant lead the NL at 7.7 WAR. The Cubs sporting the best record in baseball with 103 wins surely didn't hurt Bryant's case.
Murphy's transformation from decent everyday player to an MVP-caliber performer started in the latter part of 2015 and continued into 2016 with a monster season at age 31. He hit .347/.390/.595 (157 OPS+) with 47 doubles, five triples, 25 home runs, 104 RBI and 88 runs. His 4.6 WAR is dwarfed by Bryant due to Murphy's poor range at a premium defensive position (he rates as one of the worst defensive players in baseball by several measures), but his value with the bat lands him toward the top of the voting. His performance was notable especially in light of such a down year from teammate Bryce Harper. Murphy's big season helped spur the Nats to the NL East title.
Seager is the newbie here, as he won the Rookie of the Year earlier this week and he's only 22. Age was of no matter this season for the slick-fielding shortstop, as he hit .308/.365/.512 (137 OPS+) with 40 doubles, five triples, 26 homers, 72 RBI and 105 runs. He trailed only Bryant, Nolan Arenado and Freddie Freeman with 6.1 WAR while helping the Dodgers stay afloat through tons of injuries en route to an NL West title.
As a reminder, all BBWAA awards are for regular-season performance only. Voters are required to submit their ballots before the playoffs even start. Here's the full breakdown of votes in the National League:
2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant, Cubs. More details on voting to come pic.twitter.com/vbHztcjCUG— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) November 17, 2016
Bryant gets here by way of the aforementioned versatility and drastic improvement in contact. He started at third base 100 times, left field 36 times, right field 12 times, first base six times and even DH once. He appeared one inning at shortstop.
Also, the one major hole in Bryant's game in 2015 was strikeouts, as he led the NL with 199. He cut that number down to 154 in 2016 despite taking 49 more plate appearances. This helped him improve his batting average by 17 points, OBP by 16 points and slugging by 66 points.
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