It may have been a foregone conclusion but Kris Bryant has been named NL Rookie of the year by the players via the Sporting News.
Bryant had a tremendous season, slashing .275/.369/.488 while hitting 26 HRs and stealing 13 bases. He also drove in 99 runs. In terms of advanced metrics, Bryant looks even more impressive. He ranked 19th in all of baseball in wOBA (.371). That number was good for 1oth overall in the NL and tops among rookies in both leagues.
Bryant also ranked 5th in the NL in WAR at 6.5, in part because he was impressive on defense. Bryant's UZR/150 of 5.4 ranked 5th in the NL among qualified 3Bs.
We could go on with the impressive numbers all day long, but Cubs fans don't need to be sold. Bryant was one of the Cubs most productive players all season and what may have been most remarkable was how quickly he re-adjusted as pitchers began to adjust to him. That allowed him to maintain an impressive level of consistency all season -- especially for a rookie.
It also is a sign that the best is yet to come -- which makes him fit right in with this Cubs team.
Kyle Schwarber finished 5th.
Kyle Schwarber trade?
Speaking of Schwarber, there has been some recent speculation that the Cubs will move him this offseason. I don't buy it. The Cubs are enamored with Schwarber, both as a hitter and what he brings in the clubhouse. There seems to be a bit of an overreaction because he misplayed some flyballs on the the big stage and I think that is likely what is spurring that speculation.
During the season, his UZR/150 in the OF was a below average -- but acceptable -2.0. It is acceptable because of what he brings to the Cubs in other phases of the game.
The Cubs have not yet ruled out Schwarber as catcher either and that is something we'll undoubtedly know more about in the spring.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that David Ross will return to the Cubs in 2016. Ross may be past his prime in terms of his production, but he was lauded more than any other player for bringing this young team together. Keeping Ross is as much as about continuity as it is anything else -- and we know that Jon Lester will appreciate that every bit as much as the young players will.
- One theory I heard is that the Cubs could pursue Jason Heyward -- but only if they have to trade Jorge Soler to get pitching. That makes some sense as far as rearranging the pieces. As much as I like Soler, the Cubs will have to make some difficult moves this offseason to re-shape their team. Starting pitching, more contact hitters, and better defense are the 3 big goals -- and swapping Soler for a young top 3 starter and then signing Heyward would go a long way toward accomplish all 3 of those goals. As far as pitching goes, Indians starter Danny Salazar is the name that seems to keep popping up. Salazar pitched 185 innings and was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA (3.62 FIP). He's a power pitcher who averaged 95 mph on his fastball -- yet throws strikes (2.58 walks per 9 IP). He is also going to be 26 for the entire 2016 season, which fits in with the young core. I don't know if the Cubs can land him, but he certainly seems like a perfect fit for the Cubs in terms of his numbers, age, and approach on the mound. Heyward also fits in terms of defense, approach, and age.
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