Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant is hitting just .208 in the month of June, including a current 3-for-15 slump. What is wrong with the reigning National League MVP?
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant took the league by storm in 2015. At the age of 23, Bryant mashed 26 home runs and drove in 99 runs – despite starting the season in Triple-A. After posting a 135 OPS+ in his rookie campaign, he finished 11th in MVP voting and took home Rookie of the Year honors.
Looking to build upon a fantastic rookie season, Bryant took off in 2016. A year wiser, Bryant lowered his strikeout rate in 2016, while increasing his line-drive and fly ball percentages. The result of that improvement led Bryant to slash .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI. For his efforts, Bryant earned his second All-Star Game appearance and won National League MVP honors.
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2017 has been a challenge
Understanding that he needed to hit the ball to the opposite field more, Bryant worked in the offseason to fill that gap in his game. In 64 games, Bryant’s contact percentage to the opposite field has risen from 19.7 percent in 2016 to 26.9 percent this season. While that should signal good things for any hitter, that has not been the case for the reigning MVP.
From 2015 to 2016, Bryant decreased his ground ball percentage by a little less than four points. The result was more hard hit balls in the air, creating the best environment possible for doubles and home runs. This season, however, Bryant’s numbers have shifted in a concerning way.