Chicago Cubs are getting an MVP-caliber performance from Kris Bryant

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Kris Bryant is doing everything in his power to propel the Chicago Cubs to the postseason yet again in 2019 – but his team’s struggles are stealing the show.

Leaving Wrigley Field on Sunday after the Chicago Cubs dropped the finale to the San Diego Padres, I was disappointed, sure. But, hey – a 7-2 homestand is nothing to hang your head about, so I went on with my day, pretty content with how the weekend went.

But heading into Wednesday’s matchup against San Francisco, desperately looking to avoid a sweep, I – along with pretty much every other Cubs fan – was anything but content. The team dropped back-to-back games in the Bay to open the series and the ongoing roster debacle (and the organization’s unwillingness to address it) was really starting to wear on me.

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So if you, like me, need something positive to focus on – here it is. Kris Bryant.

That’s right, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year, 2016 NL MVP and World Series champion is back, baby – and maybe better than ever. If that doesn’t get you all fired up, well, there’s probably not much hope for you – sorry.

Entering play Wednesday, Bryant ranks fourth in WAR (4.1) according to Fangraphs, trailing only Cody Bellinger (6.1), Christian Yelich (5.9) and Ketel Marte (4.5). Really, after the year he had last season, with a nagging shoulder injury that sapped him of his ability to drive the ball – it’s been refreshing to see him doing what he does in 2019.

With a .299 average heading into the finale against the Giants, Bryant is flirting with the .300 mark – something he’s yet to accomplish over a full season in the big leagues. Even in his 2016 MVP season, the Cubs’ young slugger hit .292, following it up with a .295 mark in 2017.

Bryant’s recent hot streak is no secret, either.

"“KB’s been playing really well,” Joe Maddon told NBC Sports Chicago last week. “Shoot, for a month-and-a-half now he’s been kinda toasty. That ball was properly struck off Gray. Then he continued with base hits, good at-bats, his baserunning again is spectacular, a good play in left field. He’s playing pretty much at the top of his game right now.”"

For the last month, Bryant has put up a 1.076 OPS – hitting nearly .350 during that stretch. He’s done all this while playing all over the diamond for Maddon, providing some badly-needed versatility given the struggles of guys like David Bote, Addison Russell and Albert Almora. Last week against the Reds, he started in three positions across three games – and didn’t miss a beat.

The early season offensive exploits of Yelich and Bellinger have all but eliminated Bryant from the MVP discussion – despite the fact he’s on pace for career-bests in several offensive categories. As for the Cubs, a team searching for its identity with two months to play, he’s been the one constant on a daily basis – something that cannot be overstated given the inconsistencies of this roster.

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Make no mistake about it. 2018 was a fluke, an aberration on what will likely eventually be an illustrious career at the Major League Level. This guy is everything we thought (and most of us knew) he was – and he’s proving it in a big way this season.

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