While neither Kris Bryant nor the Chicago Cubs are at fault here, the former National League MVP has put up a dreadful 2018 campaign.
More than at any other point in his big league career, Kris Bryant is facing tremendous adversity. Marred by injury, he’s played just 86 games this year. In the 10 games he’s appeared in since returning from his shoulder injury, he’s been far from spectacular.
Because of his time missed he’s posting career-lows in WAR, wRC+, wOBA, slugging percentage, and ISO, home runs and runs batted in.
Fortunately, it’s not because pitchers have figured him out and he’s been able to play more outfield. Though, the Cubs are in desperate need of a power surge from someone besides Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo and they aren’t getting it, at least in the last few games.
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It doesn’t help that Ian Happ, Albert Almora and Willson Contreras have been abysmal in the second half. Happ and Contreras combined for 45 home runs last season. This season they’ve combined for 23 long balls, a drastic difference
Happ and Contreras found ways to contribute in the first half but the second half has been hard to watch. Happ’s .641 OPS and Contreras .624 OPS since the All-StarBbreak (July 19) is just not going to get it done.
Bryant hardly providing the needed spark
When Bryant came back after a month off, it seemed like he could be the surge the offense needed, much like when Daniel Murphy was added to the mix at the waiver deadline.
His .250/.324/.344 slash line since his return is a small sample size but needs to be better in the long run, most notably his slugging.
In his first eight games back, Bryant not changed his approach. He’s still walking at a 9.1 percent clip and sports a 109 wRC+, which means he’s nine percent better than an average major league player in those eight games.
Furthermore, Bryant has been regarded as the Cubs’ all-around best player over the last three seasons. The team lost three-straight games heading into Wednesday’s win over Milwaukee. Had they not came away with a win, we would be staring at a tie atop the NL Central. While I’m not one to panic, the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers, that seemed to be a Wild Card team at best a month ago, are a thorn in the Cubs’ side right now and the team needs someone to step up.
Fortunately, the starting pitching has been consistent but the bullpen and offense is shaky. The Brewers won on a game-winning wild pitch thrown by Carl Edwards Jr. Monday night, which makes Cubs fans wonder when closer Brandon Morrow’s return could be to help bolster the bullpen some. With Almora and Happ struggling, many are wondering when Jason Heyward can return.
So, as I said, the Cubs need Bryant to get hot. That time could be coming after getting some games under his belt. It could be just what the doctor ordered as the Cubs look to make their final push into October.