A seemingly healthy Kris Bryant is ready to lead the Cubs core deep into October.
I am here for the Cubs heading into October with Kris Bryant showcasing his attitude and swagger. He’s fed up with his critics – and said as much over the weekend while looking more like the 2016 NL MVP than the guy who struggled to hit .200 this year, while battling injuries virtually all year.
The Cubs third baseman homered two times this weekend against the rival White Sox, propelling his club to its third NL Central title in the last five years and sinking the Sox’ chances at winning their first division crown since 2008.
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"“I feel like sometimes I go out there and I could go 4-for-4, and it’s not good enough for some people,” Bryant said. “So I. Don’t. Give. A. Sh**. How about that?”"
Bryant’s always been a soft-spoken guy who largely keeps to himself. He never lashes out and rarely has anything other than a smile on his face. So this dramatic shift in tone caught a lot of folks off-guard. It helps that he put together his best offensive series of the year to close out the regular season.
Now, the Cubs have to hope it was a sign of things to come as the team prepares for its first-round matchup with the Miami Marlins.
The three-time All-Star finished the year with a 73 OPS+ and 0.5 WAR, with a strikeout rate at its highest level since his rookie campaign back in 2015 and the lowest walk rate of his career. Look. It wasn’t the year Bryant – or the team – had hoped for when they installed him as the leadoff hitter ahead of the season. But he has a chance to erase all of it with a strong showing in October.
"“This is a former MVP, right? Like, I don’t know what to say to that,” David Ross said of the criticism and remarks surround his third baseman. “This guy wants to be out there. He wants to do well for this organization. He’s done nothing but be a model citizen and be a great player since he’s been here in my opinion.”"
There’s little doubt Bryant will be in the starting lineup for Game 1 Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field. This week will mark the final games of the year at the Friendly Confines, one way or the other. A loss obviously would end the Cubs’ season. Meanwhile, a win would allow the team to advance to the NLDS, which will be held in the Texas postseason bubble.
If this is the end for this group – led by guys like Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and others – then they want to go out on top. Free agency looms after the 2021 season for several of these players, including Bryant. So what’s the goal heading into the postseason? Simple. Win.
"“You’re never satisfied with just one,” Bryant said. “You always want more, more. Sometimes it comes. Sometimes it doesn’t. But, the group here is a really good group and a lot of talent, so I don’t see why we couldn’t put more rings on the board.”"