For all you folks out there who love to call Kris Bryant ‘soft’ – this one goes out to you. The Cubs star, entering his final year of control, spoke to NBC Sports this week and revealed the injuries he played through last season were far more serious than we were led to believe.
The finger and wrist issues that sidelined him in 2020 included ligament damage and an impact fracture. Knowing that, it’s not hard to see why bat speed seemed to be an issue for the former National League MVP, especially late in the shortened season.
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"“I’ve played through a lot of things that were bothering me because I wanted to play, I want to be on the field, I want to help the team, I want to compete. Good or bad,” he said. “I could have spoken up a little more and said hey I’m not feeling really good. Maybe if I did that I might have set myself up better down the road.”"
Bryant put up woeful numbers last year, batting just .206 with a 77 wRC+ for the division champion Cubs. This marked the third straight season the third baseman has played while injured – and the impact on his numbers is pretty remarkable.
From 2015 to 2017, widely considered the peak of Bryant’s career to this point, he was a legitimate MVP candidate. But since 2018, he’s been far less consistent – again, because the guy has, according to this report, played about half of his games during that time battling through injuries.
Cubs could seriously regret letting Kris Bryant play injured so often
The Cubs and their three-time All-Star haven’t started talks on any sort of contract extension and it’s pretty widely believed that this will be his final year with the team. Now, whether he manages to finish the year on the North Side is another question altogether as he’s a prime trade candidate, too.
If that’s the case – and this is, indeed, the end of the road for the former first-rounder and the team that drafted him, he could go on to make the Cubs seriously regret how they’ve handled his injuries over the last few seasons.
Bryant could show he’s still a force to be reckoned with early this year and whether the Cubs trade him or not, if he rides off into the sunset and signs with a new team this winter, it could very easily be one of those ‘hindsight is 20/20’ type of situations.
One of the more understated critiques I have of the Theo Epstein regime (which, of course, includes now-president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer) is how injuries were handled. Too often, guys were playing through things they, simply put, shouldn’t have been. It’s one thing to battle through the soreness that comes with being a professional athlete.
But on multiple instances, we’ve seen Kris Bryant do his best to stay on the field when hurt – while clearly sacrificing his abilities to impact a game. The Cubs letting him do this year-in and year-out is a farce – and it’s something Hoyer has to change now that he’s calling the shots in Chicago.