Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant has to be healthy for the Cubs to be successful

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

If and when we see Major League Baseball return in 2020, the Chicago Cubs will have a lot riding on the health and production of Kris Bryant.

Kris Bryant has been in the news all offseason. It started with the trade rumors that are still floating out there. Then moved to if he would win his grievance with Major League Baseball, that would decide if he was a free agent after this season or next. As we know now Bryant is still a member of the Cubs. Given he lost the aforementioned grievance, he will be a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.

Make no mistake. The trade rumors will continue to hang around. If the Cubs are not in contention come the trade deadline, Theo Epstein might look to move Bryant and get a haul in return.

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If we do indeed get baseball this season, Bryant’s health will be critical if the Cubs hope to be successful. In recent years, the former National League MVP has a batted some lingering ailments that cost him production.

Two years ago, Bryant had the shoulder injury that he got from sliding headfirst into the base. That injury basically took away all of his power for the rest of the campaign. He appeared in just 102 games, slashing .272/.374/.460 with 13 homers and 52 RBI.

He was a completely different player than we were used to seeing in years past. It makes you wonder where the Cubs may have wound up had a healthy Bryant been in the mix.

Last season, he was healthy during the first half of the year, but sustained a knee injury in July that seemed to linger on over the final months. Doubt its impact? Look at his first-half numbers against his second-half.

  • First half: 85 G – .297/.403/.552 – 17 home runs, 44 RBI – 19.5% strikeout rate
  • Second half: 62 G – .261/.361/.478 – 14 home runs, 33 RBI – 27.8% strikeout rate

As the numbers show, something clearly changed for Bryant near the midway point of the season. One can only assume playing on a bum knee left its mark on his performance.

If you go back to Bryant’s MVP showing in 2016 where he was healthy all season the numbers look wildly different. The reigning Rookie of the Year slashed .292/.385/.544 with 39 homers and 102 RBI. Bryant had another good year in 2017, batting .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers and 72 RBI in 151 games.

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So heading into 2020 Bryant has shown when he is healthy that he is one of the best players in the game. Manager David Ross had given Bryant the leadoff role going into the season and if he stays healthy and continues to embrace that new arrangement, he could be poised for a monster showing.