Bryant sets Cubs' single-season rookie HR record
CHICAGO -- Hall of Famer Billy Williams has seen every one of Kris Bryant's home runs this season, and he expected the rookie to not only pass his single-season club record but easily add to it.
In Tuesday's 4-0 win, Bryant did just that, launching the first pitch from the Brewers' Tyler Cravy with two outs and one on in the third for his 26th home run. Bryant now holds the team's single-season record for most home runs by a rookie, which Williams set in 1961.
Bryant added an RBI double in the eighth and now leads all Major League rookies in RBIs, with 98. He and teammate Anthony Rizzo, who has driven in 95 runs, razz each other about who will get to 100 first.
"It really is a distraction," Bryant said. "[The numbers are] always on the scoreboard, you see it every day. Last year I struggled with it in the Minors. I really wanted to get there, and I ended up getting there. I learned you can't worry about it, just go out there and play. One hundred RBIs is definitely something to be proud of if I can get there."
Bryant's 26th homer ended up as a footnote to the game as Jake Arrieta notched his Major League-leading 20th win.
"I was joking around with [Arrieta] after the game and told him he always has to outdo me," Bryant said, laughing.
Bryant did have his moment, though, coaxed into a curtain call after the homer, and he waved to the fans from the top of the dugout steps.
"He's going to hit a lot of home runs," Williams said of Bryant. "He's got a home run swing that's perfect for Wrigley Field."
Bryant has proven that, hitting 21 of his home runs there.
Williams watched Tuesday's game from one of the Wrigley Park suites with Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations.
"Theo said [Williams] was with him when I hit it and he was really happy for me," Bryant said.
"He's just scratching the surface," Williams said. "In the Minor Leagues, you see the ball and hit it. Too many hitters come to the big leagues and try to guess with the pitchers. They need to do what they did in the Minor Leagues."
Williams, now 77, hit 17 home runs in the Minors in 1957 for what was then Class D Ponca City. He made his Major League debut in 1959 with the Cubs, but it wasn't until 1961 that he played a full season, and he was named the National League Rookie of the Year that year. He wasn't surprised at his power.
"Of course, hitting in front of Ernie [Banks] helped, too," he said, laughing.