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Kris Bryant’s big day is a reminder he could be NL MVP

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at Kris Bryant’s dominating season and the Little League World Series.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs-Game One Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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The Cubs’ Kris Bryant won the Rookie of the Year in 2015, as well as the hearts and minds of adoring fans everywhere. He’s young, he’s talented, he plays for a historic franchise — he has everything you need to become a recognizable star. And after his 2016, he might also have an MVP award to add to the mix, as he’s crushing the National League, and it’s not close. A look at the leaders in wins above replacement, courtesy of Baseball Reference, shows us a couple of things, but the main takeaway is that Bryant is far and away the most productive player in the NL in 2016.

Now, WAR isn’t the end-all by any means, but it’s still fascinating to see (1) just how good Bryant’s season has been and (2) how much better it is than those of his Senior Circuit peers. Bryant is over six wins, whereas teammate Anthony Rizzo — number two in the NL in Baseball Reference’s WAR — is under five. The margin of error for WAR is large, but that’s still a noticeable gap, and it’s in part due to the quality defense Bryant has played. Good thing he got that extra couple of weeks of training in the minor leagues to begin 2015, right?

Bryant had himself a day on Thursday, going 5-for-5 with two homers. He’s leading the NL in homers with 30, and is tied for fifth in the majors in dingers. He’s hitting .296/.392/.564 with a 153 OPS+ on the season, a significant improvement from a rookie campaign that didn’t necessarily need improving upon. He’s been even better than that since the end of June, batting .347/.446/.636 with 12 homers in his last 45 games, helping to pull the Cubs out of their mediocre mid-season stretch. Unless someone steps up over the next six weeks, Bryant very well could be the NL MVP.