Over at BP Wrigleyville, Sahadev Sharma offers a long take on Kris Bryant that you’re going to want to read. It’s not just another intoning of Bryant’s awesomeness – though, of course, he does come in for praise – but instead focuses on his approach at the plate. On the swings he takes and the ones he doesn’t. On the historically unique nature of his plate appearances thus far.
In fact, Bryant’s approach is impressively advanced. As previously noted, Bryant leads the league in pitches seen per plate appearance. Bryant’s not only seeing a ton of pitches in general, he appears to be swinging at the right pitches. He’s avoiding taking hacks at balls—his 26.7 percent O-Swing rate is 3.5 percentage points below the league average—while swinging at strikes at a 70.2 percent rate, nearly seven points above the league average ….
While the league has gotten on base at a .447 clip when facing a full count, Bryant tops that with a crazy .595. If he gets to 3-2, he’s got a pretty darn good chance of getting to first. And just to clarify, if Bryant were to play 150 games, which is perfectly reasonable assuming health, and averaged the same amount of full counts as he has thus far in the season, he’d blow past Bobby Abreu’s record of 160, with 191 full counts seen.
Bryant sees a ton of full counts, and, when he gets to that point, he’s probably going to win. That’s been the case this year so far, at least. The entire article is full of interesting and eye-opening bits like that, and is well worth the time to read.
On the year, Bryant is hitting .291/.416/.464 and his 144 wRC+ is 29th best in baseball. Apropos of Sahadev’s article, Bryant’s 29.2% strikeout rate is elevated, but not necessarily alarming, especially when you consider the 17.5% walk rate. Only Alex Guerrero (in half the plate appearances) and Joc Pederson have a higher wRC+ among rookies.