Bryzzo a winner regardless of sport

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USA TODAY

Bryzzo a winner regardless of sport

Bryzzo can't be stopped.

Even if you change the sport.

The combination of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo has become a household name around the country as the two Cubs stars have become a joint face of baseball.

The name "Bryzzo" breeds success off the diamond, too, as a horse sharing the same moniker is a champion.

Earlier this month, Bryzzo the horse won Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky in only his second career race. 

Jason Loutsch — Bryzzo's owner and a native Ankeny, Iowa — is a big Cubs fan, but insists he had never heard the name "Bryzzo" before he merged the names of his two favorite players in September 2016 as the Cubs were making their march toward their first World Series championship in over a century:

"We have a tough time coming up with names," Loutsch said in an interview with Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. "We try to name them after family members or an event or people we like who are famous.

"I'm a diehard Chicago Cubs fan and we won the World Series, obviously, so I thought it would be great to name him after my two favorite Chicago Cubs — Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. I took the Bryant and Rizzo and came up with Bryzzo."

Wait, so a guy who claims to be a diehard Cubs fan had never heard the term "Bryzzo" or seen anything about the fake Bryzzo Souvenir Co. in the eight-ish months leading up to the time he picked the same exact name for his horse?

#ThinkingFaceEmoji 

Eh, whatever.

Loutsch and the Albaugh Family Stable have dreams of winning the Kentucky Derby someday. Maybe Bryzzo can end another drought in a sport that doesn't consist of a ball.

Watch: Kris Bryant discovers that no one in Austria knows who Kris Bryant is

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RED BULL

Watch: Kris Bryant discovers that no one in Austria knows who Kris Bryant is

Baseball is America's favorite pastime. Not so much for the nations of Europe, however.

Kris Bryant, the Cubs' star third baseman and one of baseball's biggest names, took a trip across the Atlantic for his honeymoon and discovered that he's not quite as famous in the Old World as he is stateside.

Red Bull posted this video of Bryant interviewing locals in Salzburg, Austria, locals who aren't very familiar with baseball — or Bryant.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, also got to wear lederhosen and visit a castle, getting the full Austrian experience.

So maybe Bryant isn't the most recognizable guy in Austria. If he's ever looking for reaffirmation of his popularity, though, all he has to do is walk the streets of Wrigleyville. Guessing there will be a few more people there who know his name.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.