Photo Courtesy of MLB/Chicago Cubs Media
Why Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant Will Win NL MVP
As if the absurd amount of Blackhawks games on national TV wasn’t already enough of an indicator, sports media really put its cards on the table with last year’s NL Cy Young award. If you’ve ever heard me speak in person about the Cubs, you know I loved every moment of Jake Arrieta’s dominance at the end of 2015. Jake definitely deserved recognition for his incredible year, but he was NOT the best pitcher in the National League in 2015 by any stretch of the imagination.
Clayton Kershaw did not only strike out 65 more batters than Jake, he also posted 1.3 more WAR than Jake did, while posting an FIP 0.36 lower. I mean seriously, not giving the Cy Young to a guy with an FIP under 2.00 should be a federal crime. Sure, Jake had a slightly better WHIP and BABIP. But Kershaw flat out made opposing hitters look silly, and he did it all year instead of just for one half of the season. Oh, and if you try telling me Jake’s six more wins meant anything at all, you are literally out of your mind.
So, Jake Arrieta’s Cy Young and the Blackhawks’ media coverage…Why am I even talking about this at all in late August of 2016? Well, I’m talking about it so that you’re not surprised about what I am about to say next:
Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant will win the NL MVP this year, and it is pretty much already decided.
Take a team that had an entire infield of starters in the All-Star Game with a 7.5 game lead on the second best team in the MLB and combine that with an overwhelming media bias surrounding the city’s top teams: What do you get? A lock for the NL MVP to come from one of the two members of the Bryzzo Souvenir Company.
Am I saying Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo would not be legitimate candidates if they played for other teams or did not have the protection they enjoy in the Cubs lineup? Absolutely not. But, what I am saying is that when you play for a team that has been irrelevant for over 100 years and suddenly is the talk of baseball AND you put up numbers like they have, winning NL MVP is almost a guarantee.
At this point, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking: Hmmmm, another Cubs fan completely blind to the fact that guys like Nolan Arenado exist…Shocking
Not so fast salty Cardinals and White Sox fans. There’s logic behind all of this. The Rockies have the second best run producing offense in the MLB. While Arenado undoubtedly is a big reason for this, I think a lot of people forget just how much protection he has as well. For starters, three players on the Rockies (DJ LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez) are all hitting above .310 (that is something zero players on the Cubs are doing).
This next argument is one I’m not proud of making, but I do think it plays a significant role in the MVP discussion. Arenado plays at Coors field for 81 games this year. In 2015, his splits were unbelievable both at home and away. But in 2016, not quite as much…Take a look at these splits and try telling me playing a mile above sea level isn’t padding his stats:
Splits: (AVG/OBP/SLG … 2B/HR/RBI)
Home: .314/.388/.661 … 19/20/69
Away: .258/.324/.475 … 9/14/39
I mean seriously…. at this point if you’re trying to justify those splits as being irrelevant, you must really hate the Cubs or really love #28. Nolan Arenado is a great player. He is undeniably a better all-around player than Kris Bryant because he actually knows how to play the field to go along with his bat. But, take the fact that he has three guys around him absolutely raking this year and the fact that the Rockies are not a playoff contender and it simply is not his year to be commended.
About the only other player who could reasonably be tossed in the discussion is Daniel Murphy, who has put up better numbers than Rizzo in every single category and is beating Bryant in every category other than HR. But, even if Daniel Murphy is more valuable to the Nationals lineup that just can’t seem to put it all together… There are two reasons he will not win.
First off, he is not nearly as electric as any of the other aforementioned candidates, and there is definitely a huge element of favoritism when it comes to awards voting in any major sport. Murphy is just a quiet guy who takes a brown bag lunch to the ballpark before 1:20 PM games and casually hits near .350 with 25-30 dingers and 100+ RBI. He’s not exciting about it, but he just gets it done. He could put up Bryce Harper’s numbers from last year, and I still think it’d be a toss up.
But more importantly, Daniel Murphy does not play for the best team in baseball. Whether Cubs haters like to admit it or not, virtually everyone who doesn’t have a personal vendetta against the Cubs is rooting for them. That general population most certainly includes the media, so don’t be surprised to see another piece of memorabilia added to the Bryzzo Souvenir Company by year’s end.
Footnote: I should have been more specific–the media’s obsession revolves solely around the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Blackhawks. If you are a fan of the teams poorly owned/managed by Jerry Reinsdorf or the McCaskey family, I send my deepest condolences that you will never feel the same media hype regularly.