Chicago Cubs: A deeper look into the great debate, Bryant versus Arenado

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Kris Bryant
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Kris Bryant /
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Durability and consistency make a player

Bryant is lucky his hand injury didn’t turn out as bad as many thought after watching him slide into third base in Atlanta Wednesday. That’s because durability is one of Bryant’s strong suits. The Cubs’ third baseman has played in 151 games or more in his two full seasons in Chicago. This season, he has not missed any significant time either – despite rolling his ankle earlier in the year.

Arenado was fairly healthy his rookie season, playing in 133 games. However, in 2014 he played in just 111 games, missing the entire month of June and most of September. With all that said, he’s missed just six games combined in the two previous seasons and the 2017 campaign to-date.

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Picking it up as he goes

If there is one thing that’s hard to support with concrete evidence, it’s which player is more consistent. Arenado struggled out the gates in his career at the plate. However, he dazzled with the glove, winning a Gold Glove Award in each of his first four seasons with the Rockies. Offensively, his .267/.301/.405 slash line wasn’t exactly eye-popping in 2013.

Eventually, the offense came for Arenado after a breakout season in 2015. He finished with a career-high 42 home runs, 130 RBIs and a slashed .287/.323/.575. Bryce Harper somehow had a better season, winning the NL MVP award. Arenado has produced similar numbers – including another 130+ RBI total last season. He’s proven to be a player the Rockies front office can rely on. He’s definitely taken advantage of what Coors Field has to offer.

He won the National League Rookie of the Year that season on his way to a .275/.369/.488 rookie campaign. His 26 home runs and 99 RBI led all rookies in the National League. His downfall came via his 199 strikeouts and his defense at third base. He finished the year with 17 errors. Despite his struggles, he showed how versatile he was playing 22 games at all three outfield positions and even played first base for a game.

Bryant showing steady improvement

Last season, Bryant showed drastic improvement with the glove. His errors dropped to just 12 and he continued to show his versatility by increasing his outfield work, playing in 75 games at one of the three outfield positions. After boasting a 30 percent strikeout rate in 2015, Bryant’s changed swing was one of the storylines of the spring.

He finished with 45 fewer strikeouts than in 2015. His slash line improved to .292/.385/.554 and he mashed 39 home runs, scored 121 runs and drove in 102 men on his way to the N.L. MVP Award and his first World Series ring. But you knew that already. In two seasons, Bryant’s become not only a superstar in Chicago but all of baseball and his consistency in all facets of the game is why.