Chicago Cubs have one of the game’s great duos in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo
By Jake Misener
Despite a disappointing performance in the NLCS, the Chicago Cubs have one of the best duos in the game in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
Take a deep breath. Move past what happened over the course of the last week in the National League Championship Series and accept the Chicago Cubs for what they were: a team that ran out of gas three wins from a second-straight World Series appearance.
If you ask me, there are worst places to be.
One of the team’s most glaring issues in the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers? The absent offense from their two big bats – Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. The duo – outside of a Bryant homer in Game 5 – failed time and time again to deliver and jump-start the lineup.
Accept that. Now move on.
Once again, this duo performed at such a high level in 2017. Anthony Rizzo tied career-highs in both home runs (32) and runs batted in (109) – tying his marks from last year. He also posted a personal best with an impressive .392 on-base percentage, thanks to his outstanding plate approach (90 strikeouts to 91 base-on-balls).
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He did all this while again providing top-notch glove work at first base for the Cubs. Oh, and he started all but five games for the back-to-back National League Central champs, too.
Simply put, you can’t say enough good things about Anthony Rizzo. Recently, I went so far as to suggest the organization bring back the ‘captain’ title for the slugging first baseman – a statement I still stand by – despite his postseason struggles.
Bryant puts up some career-bests
Now, too many people suggest KB experienced a ‘down year’ in 2017. If you’re in that camp – and your argument has anything to do with runs batted in – delete your social media account immediately.
Bryant only drove in 73 runs. Let’s get that out of the way. He appeared in more than 150 games for the third-consecutive game, putting up a .409 on-base percentage and .946 OPS – both personal bests for the reigning NL MVP.
Over his first three seasons, the former first-rounder has 94 home runs. He set a career-best with his 38 doubles in 2017, as well. The largest gripe against Bryant – his work with runners in scoring position.
In ‘high-leverage’ scenarios, he batted just .185/.336/.326 across 119 plate appearances. That obviously represents an opportunity for improvement for the franchise cornerstone, and, as we’ve seen, when he sees a weakness in his game, he attacks it relentlessly.
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For three-straight seasons, Bryant cut down his strikeouts: from 199, to 154, down to 128 in 2017. Meanwhile, he drew more walks (99) than he ever has before. Sure, there is room for improvement – but he’s shown that we can count on him to be the best he can be.
So, the moral of the story is this: Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant will be back better than ever in 2018. And, as we’ve seen – as Team Bryzzo goes, so go the Chicago Cubs.