On a team that features two of the best defensive outfielders in baseball (Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr.), two of the best defensive infielders in baseball (Addison Russell and Javy Baez), and the best defensive first baseman in baseball (Anthony Rizzo), it’s easy to overlook the guys who are simply “very solid” defenders.
Falling into that group after two seasons in the big leagues – despite persistent pre-draft and minor league questions about his ability to play third base – is Kris Bryant, who has looked very good at third again this year.
For example, last night, he made a very nice charging, barehanded play with a strong, accurate throw to first:
Back at it again with the bare hand! pic.twitter.com/QVcFiOFGHq
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 9, 2017
For a big guy, Bryant is especially good on those plays that require him to get low. He’s come into his own at third base, and with the construction of the rest of the roster, you probably won’t see him playing too much outfield this year, even though he could.
Last year, splitting time between third base, left field, right field, and then a couple brief appearances at first base and center field (and one inning at shortstop!), Bryant accumulated a whopping 10 DRS, making him a top 40ish defender in all of baseball, depending on your metric of choice. A reminder: Kris Bryant was the MVP last year, and he still willingly moved to every single defensive position on the field, except for catcher and pitcher.
I don’t want to get too into the advanced defensive metrics after just five games, because you need a sample size at least 20 times that to really get close to drawing any serious conclusions, but, suffice it to say, the metrics so far agree with the eyes. Bryant looks good at third base again this year.