Chicago Cubs standout and former MVP Kris Bryant is once again taking his place among the elite performers in the game, leading the team’s offense in 2019.
As I was watching the Chicago Cubs broadcast this week, Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies were discussing Cubs fans perception of Kris Bryant and what he actually means to this team. JD chimed in and said that Bryant doesn’t receive nearly the credit he deserves. He then compared the 2016 NL MVP to Mike Trout because of the latter’s unbelievably high standard he sets for himself.
Bryant has been among baseball’s current greats since before he arrived in the big leagues. In 2013, Bryant earned the Golden Spikes Award, awarded to the best amateur baseball player in the country. He then began his professional career, where he won the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year. How did he follow that up? Playing 151 games for the Cubs, winning Rookie of the Year honors in the NL. Oh, and he helped end a 108-year title drought the next year, bringing home the National League MVP in the process.
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Bryant is one of the best players in today’s game and does not get the credit day-in and day-out as he should. Sure, his production has been great since he has become relevant in the baseball world, but he has held that standard every year with the exception of an injury-plagued 2018.
The former first-rounder’s numbers suggest he is on pace to produce similar results to his MVP season. His slash lines are eerily similar, with a slight bump in on-base percentage.
- 2016: .292/.385/.554 with an OPS of .939.
- 2019: .284/.393/.535 with an OPS of .928.
There has been a slight drop in power, but KB and the Cubs always play their best in the second half of the season. Power numbers will even out by year’s end.
As Bryant continues to mash the baseball, he finds himself improving at the dish. When he entered the league in 2015, he struck out 199 times. Since then, those numbers have drastically decreased. In 2016, opposing pitchers sent him back to the bench via strikeout 154 times, 128 times in 2017, 107 in a shortened 2018 season, and is on pace for 120 or so strikeouts this season. This improvement shows Bryant’s ability to develop and adjust as a hitter, as well as anyone else in the game.
Bryant, while a strong defender at third base, has added value to the Cubs because of his versatility defensively. He has spent most of his time at third, but has seen substantial time in the outfield over the last few seasons and have even seen him play first base time and again.
This guy is one of the greatest talents in baseball. Len and Jim are right when they suggest Bryant’s bar is set too high and Cubs fans don’t respect his production. He is having an MVP type year and if it continues, we could see him in the discussion with Christian Yellich and Cody Bellinger for Most Valuable Player.