Cal Ripken Jr, Ryan Howard and Dustin Pedroia are the only members of one of the MLB’s rarest clubs. In fact, it’s such a rare feat, the club isn’t even officially named or recognized.
The three men are the only players in MLB history who have been Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in consecutive seasons (Ripken in ’82-’83, Howard in ’06-’07, Pedroia in ’07-’08). Though some argue that the Rookie of the Year award is cursed because some players have faltered after winning it, these men did exactly the opposite and proved they weren’t one-season wonders.
This season, it is quite possible that another man could join the group. After being named the NL Rookie of the Year last season, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is putting the finishing touches on a year that has already trumped his previous effort. After batting .275 with 26 HR and 99 RBI last year, Bryant stands at .297/37/94 as of 9/14. MLB.com projects that the 24-year-old is on pace for 41 homers and 105 RBI at season’s end. In addition to his offensive prowess, Bryant has proven himself as an incredibly versatile defender. Joe Maddon has put him everywhere in the outfield, at first and shortstop in addition to third.
Another reason why he is such a favorite for this year’s NL MVP is because Bryant’s value to Chicago is almost immeasurable. Alongside Anthony Rizzo, Bryant is the core of one of baseball’s most dynamic young offenses that is complimented almost perfectly by a strong veteran pitching staff. The Cubs currently lead the NL Central by 16 games over rival St. Louis and have a magic number of 3 to clinch the division for the first time since 2008.
Everyone in the baseball world is wondering if the Team of Destiny has at last arrived for the Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and haven’t even appeared in one since 1945. The team came pretty darn close last year, but were unceremoniously swept out of the NLCS by Daniel Murphy and the Mets. If the Cubs want to win the NL Pennant, they will need guys like Bryant to play their hearts out. And Bryant has proven time and time again over the last two seasons that he can do precisely that.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are still 2 and a half weeks left in the regular season and Bryant has very strong MVP competition in Murphy and Nolan Arenado. If he wants to join the consecutive ROY-MVP club, he still has a lot of work left.
As previously mentioned, the Cubs have the NL Central locked up and at this point it’s merely a matter of time. In the NLDS, they will meet whomever wins the Wild Card game, which at this point will be either the Giants or the Mets. How interesting would an NLCS rematch be?
Right now is the most exciting time in the MLB. Keep up with Bryant and the Cubs and all your baseball news on FromThe300Level.