Tha Sports Junkies 101

Kris Bryant is the New Face of Baseball

Tony Wasserman/VIa


Kris Bryant’s rise has been meteoric to say the least.  As the best player on the best team in the sport, Bryant is without a doubt the new poster boy for Major League Baseball.

After bursting onto the scene in 2015, Kris Bryant has further cemented his legacy with another outstanding campaign.  Despite claiming National League Rookie of the Year honors last season, Bryant failed to garner serious hype going into this year.  The Chicago Cubs established themselves as the focal point of the baseball world this offseason, and that overshadowed any one single player.  After all, the promise of Chicago finally capturing its first World Series championship in over a century is a worthy leading storyline.  Fast forward to now however, and it is extremely apparent that Kris Bryant may have been overlooked this year.

With just a few games remaining in the month of August, Bryant has certainly placed himself at the head of the MVP conversation.  He leads the National League with 35 home runs and 107 runs scored.  He is batting .303 while also posting the second highest OPS in the N.L., second to Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals.  Bryant isn’t done though.  If he continues to rake the way he has over the past few weeks, he will put up some insanely gaudy numbers.

All due respect to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is putting up a very productive season of his own, but there’s little doubt as to who the King of Chicago is.  If he wins the Most Valuable Player Award, Kris Bryant will join Cal Ripken Jr., Ryan Howard, and Dustin Pedroia as the only players to ever win Rookie of the Year and MVP in back-to-back seasons.  Interestingly enough, all three of the aforementioned players all won a World Series relatively early in their respective careers.  It is extremely likely that Bryant will be in the MVP race for the next decade or so, and he can always capture another piece of personal hardware.  This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Bryant to establish himself as not only a winner, but as the face of baseball.

Sorry, Mike Trout.

Mike Trout is the ultimate baseball player in terms of pure talent.  Sometimes I lose track of how long he has been in the league because he never has really improved since his first full season in 2012.  After all, it’s hard to top a rookie season in which someone hits 30 home runs and steals 49 bases.  Mike Trout has been the model of consistency in baseball, and that has not changed in 2016.  It is still a little too early to tell, but it appears that Kris Bryant is on the same track as the 2014 American League Most Valuable Player.  2015 was obviously no fluke for the Cubs’ slugger.  The one major difference between Bryant and Trout is the talent on the teams that they play for.

Unfortunately for the five-tool outfielder, Trout is stuck on an awful Angels team that has no relief in sight.  They have one of baseball’s worst farm systems that features no blue-chip prospects.  Los Angeles has millions of dollars tied up in terrible veteran contracts.  Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver, and Josh Hamilton are among the worst recent signings for the Angels.  Even with a true superstar like Mike Trout, the Angels are currently sitting at the bottom of the American League.

Kris Bryant‘s situation in Chicago is the exact opposite.  Thanks to Theo Epstein, Bryant is surrounded by other young studs like Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber among other.  In just the first full year that Bryant played with the Cubs, they won 97 games.  They may have fallen short of the World Series, but Epstein only used that as motivation to win the whole thing in 2016.  Chicago signed outfield Jason Heyward in the winter and also added flamethrower Aroldis Chapman prior to the trade deadline one month ago.  As a result of his performance and his team’s success, Kris Bryant was determined to be the most marketable player in baseball in a study conducted by Major League Baseball.  The Cubs’ dominance is just like the Angels’ misery; who knows when either one will end.

When Kris Bryant wins a World Series, whether that happens this year or next, he will claim the title of the face of baseball.  He won’t just be an MVP if Chicago wins it all in 2016.  He would become a folk hero.  Bryant can be the man that leads the Cubs to a championship that they have failed to win since 1908.  When that happens, Kris Bryant will become a national celebrity.  Mike Trout may still be the better all around baseball player, but Kris Bryant is the new face of Major League Baseball.