Cubs: Kris Bryant’s hot start could be a sign of things to come
The Chicago Cubs have gotten off to a nice start this season, taking two of three at home against the Pirates this weekend and following it up with a series-opening win over the Brewers on Monday.
The team looked shaky on Opening Day, but rebounded to showcase plenty of positives since. Jake Arrieta and Zach Davies had nice outings, Craig Kimbrel showed glimpses of his old self and most importantly the team won. However, out of all the players to have nice starts to the season, the most important was Kris Bryant.
The former All-Star third baseman is facing arguably the most pressure of any Cubs player – and that’s a big statement considering the names on this roster. There’s much uncertainty with Bryant and his future with the team and his performance this season could very well be the deciding factor. Watching him produce in the opening series was a breath of fresh air.
He’s been in a bad headspace the past few seasons, dealing with injuries, struggles and criticism but he appears to be in the right mindset entering this year and that is huge.
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The opener wasn’t ideal as he went 0-for-3 but he got it going and went 3-for-6 afterwards. He got off to the start he needed this weekend, going 3-for-9 with three runs scored, two RBI and the Cubs’ first home run of the season. He seemed loose and relaxed which was key to his solid start.
Mental and physical health are going to make or break this year for the MVP third baseman and if those are in place, we can expect a huge bounce-back season for Bryant. He has the highest ceiling of anyone on this roster and while we need our supplemental pieces to step up to be successful, having the Bryant of old will help take this group to the next level.
Cubs: Can Bryant get back to an MVP level?
He was at his best during the 2016, when he won the MVP and the Cubs ended their infamous World Series drought batting .292 with a .939 OPS and MLB leading 121 runs scored. He also posted a WAR of 7.9.
In 2016 and 2017, Bryant’s numbers were better in the second half so it’s worth noting in his prime seasons he has gotten off to slower starts. He really can’t afford that this year with everything on the line. Depending on this team’s performance he could become a big trade piece at the trade deadline so it is crucial he can show the world the old Kris Bryant early on.
The hope is that he remains a Cub for life but we have to be prepared for the reality that he may not be. Until then, it was great to see our guy get off to a nice start to the season and the hope is that he keeps things rolling.