The lines are remarkably similar, anchoring opposite sides of the diamond with weighty stats that have lifted the Cubs’ dynamic duo to the top of the NL MVP race.
Kris Bryant: .299/.393/.563, .403 wOBA, 152 wRC+, 30 HR, 96 R, 79 RBI, 6.4 fWAR
Anthony Rizzo: .292/.395/.564, .401 wOBA, 151 wRC+, 25 HR, 73 R, 87 RBI, 4.2 fWAR
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) August 20, 2016
There have been changes in the rankings in the hours since Sharma tweeted them out, but not much. Bryant moved into 1st at BP and remains so according to FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference, while Rizzo held steady at BP and dropped to 6th and 3rd and FanGraphs and B-Ref, respectively. Check the offensive leaderboards and you’re likely to find both names closely paired near the top of the league. Bryzzo is even equally willing to take one for the team, with Bryant holding the slightest edge over his plate-crowding counterpart, 15 to 14.
The only area in which the big first baseman holds a significant lead is runs batted in, though that’s more a function of opportunity than skill. He does, after all, bat immediately behind the reigning Rookie of the Year. Rizzo’s defensive prowess perhaps gives him an edge in the field, though what Bryant lacks in singular skill he makes up for in versatility. Rizzo walks more and strikes out less, Bryant runs better.
They are yin and yang; dinger and dang!; the no-doubt, clear-cut number one 1-2 punch on the no-doubt, clear-cut number one team. But who’s the MVP?
The numbers say Bryant, the intangibles may say Rizzo. I know this probably sounds odd, like a cop-out of sorts, but I’m tempted to say that Rizzo is the team MVP while Bryant is the league MVP. As they head down the stretch of this race, it’s almost as though the elder star is providing protection and allowing his teammate to ride more smoothly in his draft.[beautifulquote align=”right”]They seem at ease with the attendant pressures of trying to bring rain to the Fisher King’s barren land.[/beautifulquote]
Bryant’s certainly got the pedigree, having collected player-of-the-year awards in each of the last three seasons at different levels of the sport. Rizzo’s got the history, having bodily hoisted a moribund team onto his broad shoulders when he came to Chicago via trade in 2012. They’re two good-looking, talented dudes possessed of both sex appeal and metrics appeal and they seem at ease with the attendant pressures of trying to bring rain to the Fisher King’s barren land.
So I ask again: who’s the MVP?
If the season ended today, I have to think the voters would side with Bryant. That’s where I’d put my money and where I’d cast my own vote, were I granted one. Although, yeah, I could see the inherent appeal of writing “Bryzzo” on the top line of the ballot. While I find Bryant to be the superior overall player, I’m not sure he does all he does without Rizzo. The same is true in reverse.
What say you, dear reader? Is it Bryant, Rizzo, or Bryzzo for NL MVP? And don’t worry too much about the answer, we should get to keep asking it for the next few seasons.[poll id=”6″]