Cubs

Simeon wins home-opener by 56

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Simeon wins home-opener by 56

By Dan Ruane
Yourseason.com

Among the crowd at Simeons home opener against Red-South opponent Carver were several college coaches. They got to see the top-ranked Wolverines dismantle the Challengers for a 79-23 victory in a game that was never close.

Representatives from Georgetown, Missouri State, Michigan State and Illinois along with head coaches Johnny Dawkins from Stanford, Buzz Williams of Marquette and Roy Williams of North Carolina came to see uncommitted juniors Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate.

The Wolverines did not disappoint in storming out to a 27-2 first-quarter lead playing its trademark ball-sharing offense along with its suffocating defense.

Theyre a fantastic team, Roy Williams said. They play so hard and so well together. Theyre a very unselfish team and I obviously like to see that.

Simeon also knows how to get the ball to the guy with the hot hand.

Marquette-bound Steve Taylor scored 13 of his 15 points in the first quarter, all while the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0) were forcing Carver (0-7, 0-1) into 14 first-quarter turnovers.

They are a true Number 1 team, Carver coach Johnnail Evans said. They are going to run through the Red-South this year. People do not have the talent to match up against them.

The only mystery in the game was how long Simeon coach Robert Smith would play his regulars. Smith used his bench extensively but also allowed his starters enough time to display their wares for the would-be college suitors.

Its a tribute to our program that so many high, major programs are looking at our kids, Smith said. I got into Kendrick at halftime. With all of these college coaches here, he came out in second half and made gold.

Nunn scored 13 of his 16 points in the third quarter including converting three treys. Jabari Parker played a strong all-around game with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Tate came off the bench to score 15 points. Taylor recorded four blocks while Parker had five.

Michael Howell led Carver with 12 points.

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.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.