After a slow start at the plate, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant looks like the player we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
Through the first 17 games of the season, the Chicago Cubs were getting minimal production from former MVP Kris Bryant. He was slashing just .219/.324/.344. Bryant wasn’t stringing together consistently reliable at-bats or making much hard contact. His start was particularly unsettling given his 2018 season, where he battled injuries throughout.
However, in this last week, Cubs fans have been treated to seeing the same version of Bryant that won the MVP in 2016.
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Bryant had been showing signs that he was on the cusp of breaking out, and now he has in a big way. On Tuesday night, Bryant continued his torrid stretch at the plate with a ninth-inning walk-off home run off of Marlins reliever Adam Conley. Bryant turned on a 99 MPH fastball and cut it through a 15 MPH wind blowing directly in from left field. It was Bryant’s third walk-off home run and his first since his rookie season in 2015.
Bryant has now homered in three consecutive games for the first time in his career and has seen his average jump to .250. He’s also run into some bad luck, as he has been hitting the ball with authority lately. This is evident when looking at Bryant’s .276 BABIP, a low number for a guy that drives the ball in the air often.
"“It feels normal,” said Bryant, via Chicago Tribune. “I knew it was a matter of time before my work showed up in the games. I’ve been really proud of that."
Bryant’s patience returning
Not only is Bryant driving the ball, but he also has been working much better at-bats of late. All in all, Bryant has walked 21 times as opposed to 28 strikeouts. He’s on pace for the best SO/W ratio of his career. His 19% strikeout rate would also be the lowest of his career. In short, if KB continues to walk and make contact, he could be primed for a career year.
"“I feel I’ve been putting a ton of work, just with the consistency in my swing, the approach and not chasing too much and working the counts, taking my walks and getting on base,” Bryant said via Chicago Tribune. “It’s nice to see the results the last three to four games, even back to the home run in Arizona.”"
Bryant lost a year in 2018. He dealt with a nagging shoulder injury for most of the season, and when he did return, was forced to alter his swing dramatically. Bryant’s swing looks back, his confidence is growing, and he looks ready to pick up where he left off in 2017. When Bryant’s locked in, he’s proven that he can carry an entire lineup.
*Stats correct as of 5/7