Kris Bryant has already accomplished a career’s worth of milestones at the age of 26. In one four-year stretch, the can’t-miss kid from Las Vegas was named College Player of the Year, Minor League Player of the Year, National League Rookie of the Year and the National League Most Valuable player.
Awards and accomplishments have piled up, but what about his actual top moment on the diamond? In honor of his birthday, we look back at KB’s Top 5 moments on the field. Let the first great debate of 2018 begin.
No. 5: July 12, 2016 – Bryant homers off Chris Sale in the All-Star Game
Bryant went to the dish on the national stage batting third against Chris Sale, a pitcher he was 0-for-6 against with 6 strikeouts. This moment was extra special at Petco Park, playing the All-Star Game in San Diego where three years before, Bryant was drafted by the Cubs second overall out of the University of San Diego. With his father watching in the crowd, KB recalled his father’s advice:
"He said, 'First-pitch fastball, be ready for it.'” Bryant said. "'No, Dad, I'm taking the first pitch.' Obviously I should listen to my dad more."
No. 4: July 27, 2015 – Walkoff HR off Colorado’s John Axford
"It's got to be one of the best feelings in sports.”
That’s what the Cubs rookie said after lifting the Cubs to a memorable 9-8 victory.
It was a big win for a team that was struggling, just 14-16 over their last 30 games. The rookie himself needed a boost at the plate and he provided exactly what the Cubs needed after the bullpen blew a 3-run lead in the top of the 9th.
No. 3: Oct. 30, 2016 – Game-tying HR off Trevor Bauer in Game 5 of the World Series
It was the line drive that started the comeback and eventually ended the curse. Down 1-0 in an elimination game, the Cubs needed a big hit and Bryant delivered.
The 1-1 pitch left the ballpark in a hurry, finding its way safely into the basket in left field and provided the Cubs with a spark in a 3-run 4th inning.
Bryant shares the franchise record with 6 postseason round trippers, but this blast - the first World Series HR of his career - was by far the most important and the most memorable.
No. 2: June 27, 2016 – 3 HR, 2 doubles vs. the Reds
It was a performance for the ages, a first of its kind. Bryant decimated Reds pitching at Great American Ballpark with 3 homers and 2 doubles, the first such MLB performance in over 100 years.
The Cubs needed every base knock during Bryant’s first career 5-for-5 night in the 11-8 win. The 16 total bases was a new franchise record and Jim Deshaies summed up the performance perfectly,
“What a show, what a show!”
No. 1: Nov. 2, 2016 – World Series final out
A slow grounder in between short and third, and Kris Bryant charged. He fielded the ball cleanly, but slipped as he went to release more than a century of Cubs fans frustrations.
The 2016 National League Most Valuable player smiled as he fired the ball across the diamond, ending the Cubs 108 years World Series Title drought.
No more curses, no more goats, just one of the greatest endings in the history of professional sports.