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Kris Bryant is unanimous selection for 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award

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Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was the unanimous choice for 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Award, as announced by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Monday. He’s the 20th player to win the Rookie of the Year Award unanimously and the 11th in the National League.

Bryant was widely-expected to win the award, so the only real question was what the margin of victory would be. He ended up taking all 30 first-place votes. Giants third baseman Matt Duffy finished second in the balloting while Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang finished third.

Bryant was the most-talked about prospect in the game coming into 2015 and lived up to the hype by leading all hitters in home runs during spring training. However, the Cubs sent him down to the minors to begin the season in a decision which was mostly motivated by service time. He made his long-awaited major league debut on April 17 and proved to be worth the wait for Cubs fans, earning his first All-Star selection in July before finishing with a .275/.369/.488 batting line over 151 games.

While Bryant led all National League hitters with 199 strikeouts, he either tied or led all rookies with 26 home runs, 31 doubles, 99 RBI, 87 runs scored, and 77 walks. Among rookies with at least 300 plate appearances, only Randal Grichuk of the Cardinals and Miguel Sano of the Twins bested his .858 OPS. He also stole 13 bases and proved to be sound defensively. The future is bright in Chicago and Bryant might be the biggest reason why.

Bryant is the sixth player in franchise history to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, joining Billy Williams (1961), Ken Hubbs (1962), Jerome Walton (1989), 1998 (Kerry Wood), and Geovany Soto (2008).

Complete voting results for the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Award can be found at BBWAA.com.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”