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Chicago Cubs: Addressing the National League MVP Race

Aug 14, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) hits an RBI single during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) hits an RBI single during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the season coming to a close, it’s time to start speculating about who wins which award. Last season, Chicago Cubs’ ace Jake Arrieta won the Cy Young, after a breakout 2014.

Bryce Harper seemed to evolve into what everybody had envisioned, and ran away with the MVP award, while young Chicago Cubs’ phenom Kris Bryant won the Rookie of the Year award. This year, Bryant is right in the thick of MVP talks. What are his realistic chances of winning the MVP?

Right now, the race seems to be down to four guys. Those four would be Bryant, Cubs teammate Anthony Rizzo, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ budding mega-star Corey Seager, and Daniel Murphy.

Rizzo did finish fourth in the voting last year, and he’s right in the thick of the race again, but how about the other three?

Well, let’s start with Rizzo. His slash line currently reads .291/.398/.572, with 25 home runs, to go with 85 RBI, which is currently tied for third in the National League. Anthony has the highest walk rate of the four candidates, currently sitting at 12.5%.

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Bryant has the second highest walk rate, at 11%. Seager plays the best defense of the group, followed by Bryant, and Murphy leads the crew in runs batted in. Corey will run away with the Rookie of the Year, much in the same way Bryant did last year.

But, let’s delve a little deeper into this. Anthony Rizzo is currently hitting .291, with a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .304. That’s an insanely low BABIP for that high of an average.

Which means he’s taking advantages of mistakes. His OBP and OPS add into that as well, he won’t chase many pitches.

Rizzo’s OPS sits just under one , which tells you just how good of a season he’s having.  BABIP does not include home runs, which makes that all the more impressive. To compare? Bryant: .337 BABIP, Seager .348, and Murphy is at .346.

Theo Epstein’s original building block is clearly taking advantage of most of his opportunities. Based on what the voter’s look for, the numbers are certainly there, but, all four of these candidates are more than deserving. Let’s not forget how good Rizzo plays defense, as he’s been very solid over there at first for years now.

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A gold glove or two is easily in Rizzo’s future, and an MVP or two should follow.

As for Kris Bryant, he is the most versatile of the four. Kris can play multiple different positions, and he plays them all well. What might stray voters here, is his lack of contact, as his contact rate is only 71% right now. But when he does make contact, he usually does damage.

He does have the most strikeouts of the four, but, he is right in the thick of the race with all of the walks, good defense, and just how good of a hitter he is. Bryant and Rizzo will be in the thick of the MVP race for many years, and they both just may win one.

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