The Chicago Cubs already won their first World Series in 108 years, but they probably aren’t done collecting hardware in 2016.

Kris Bryant is the front-runner to bring the National League MVP award to Wrigleyville but will have to stave off Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals and NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On the American League side, Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox, Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels are finalists for the MVP.

The two awards will be unveiled on MLB Network Thursday. Here is a look at predictions for two of the top individual awards for the 2016 campaign.


National League MVP Prediction: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

Bryant has taken the league by storm in his first two seasons with an NL Rookie of the Year, two All-Star Game appearances, two playoff appearances and a World Series trophy the Windy City desperately longed for since 1908.

Now he will add an MVP to that sterling resume.

According to, Bryant led the NL in runs scored (121) and position-player WAR (7.7). He was also third in home runs with 39 and sixth in RBI with 102 and slashed .292/.385/.554.

Bryant will win the MVP for more than just his offensive prowess.

His defensive versatility allowed manager Joe Maddon to mix and match his lineup cards on a daily basis, which is one reason the team was fresh enough to win 103 regular-season games and the World Series.

Bryant appeared at third base, first base, shortstop, left field, center field and right field this season and was responsible for 10 total defensive runs saved above average, per FanGraphs.

In addition to the fielding and offense, the well-rounded Bryant was a force on the basepaths for the Cubs. According to FanGraphs, Bryant posted a BsR total of 7.3, which was second in the NL behind only Wil Myers of the San Diego Padres (7.8).

FanGraphs explained: “Base Running (BsRis FanGraphs‘ all-encompassing baserunning statistic that turns stolen bases, caught stealings and other baserunning plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc.) into runs above and below average.”

Considering Bryant tallied only eight stolen bases this year, his high ranking is a testament to his ability to make things happen on the basepaths beyond the traditional metrics.

The stats are there for Bryant, and so were the memorable MVP moments during Chicago’s World Series run.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune noted Bryant set a franchise record on June 27 against the Cincinnati Reds with 16 total bases when he went 5-for-5 with three home runs and two doubles. He was also the first player in MLB history to hit three homers and two doubles in a single game.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bryant became the second player in league history to tally two five-hit, five-RBI games in a season when he went 5-for-5 with two homers and five RBI on Aug. 18 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bryant also drilled a home run in the first inning of the All-Star Game against Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and continued his magic in the Fall Classic with a game-tying homer in Game 5 at Wrigley Field and a go-ahead homer in Game 6 at Progressive Field.

Teammate and fellow slugger Anthony Rizzo discussed what makes Bryant so dangerous at the plate, per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago: “He’s that talent. It’s his ability to adjust pitch to pitch, which is not easy to do, at-bat to at-bat, game to game. His head is still all the time. He’s got the same swing every single time.”

That steady swing made Bryant the best player in the National League this season.


American League MVP Prediction: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

The only real argument against Trout is the fact his Angels won just 74 games this season as the fourth-place team in the American League West. However, the five-time All-Star and 2014 AL MVP was an all-around force again this year and will capture the second MVP of his career.

According to Baseball-Reference, Trout led the AL in runs scored (123), walks (116), on-base percentage (.441) and position-player WAR (10.6).

Jonah Keri of CBS Sports made the case for the center fielder with his MVP pick and discredited the notion he can’t win the award for a losing team:

Trout has been the best player in the league for each of the past five years (this year included), and trying to dance your way to other candidates because it’s boring to keep backing the same guy makes no sense. …

Players getting rewarded based on how good or bad a job their team’s general manager did in building a roster is a silly premise, especially in a sport that’s more one-on-one-matchup-focused than just about any other team sport.

In addition to his league-leading numbers, Trout slashed .315/.441/.550 with 29 home runs and 100 RBI. He also finished second in the AL with a BsR of 9.3 behind only Betts’ 9.8, per FanGraphs.

Bryant largely racked up his baserunning total doing some of the unheralded things, but Trout finished with 30 steals in addition to his willingness to take an extra base while avoiding costly outs.

Trout also used that speed in center field to finish with six total defensive runs saved above average, per FanGraphs. He also made quite a few appearances on the highlight reel with some spectacular catches.

Trout, like Bryant, is the rare player who can take over a game at the plate with power while also providing stellar fielding and baserunning. He was the best player in baseball this season, even if the Angels were far from matching his individual brilliance.

That alone is enough to merit his second MVP award.

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