Kris Bryant is mired in a pretty horrible – for him – slump. You already know this, and I ain’t here to make your crummy off-day even worse.
Instead, I hope some charts will do for you what they did for me today: make you feel a little bit better about that Bryant slump.
FanGraphs has a charting tool that lets you review a player’s performance over certain windows of time. Going game-by-game has its merits, but sometimes you want to know how a guy has been doing over larger chunks of time by smoothing out the extremes of individual games.
I wanted to see how Bryant’s recent slump compared to the last few years (which, you’ll note, includes his MVP 2016 season and then the 2017 season in which he arguably improved at the plate). Just how deep is it? Are we talking worst in years? Does this kind of slump *ever* happen to him?
Good news! It does! It has! It’s even been worse!
First, let’s look at Bryant’s rolling wRC+ in 15-game increments (remember, wRC+ is kind of a total offensive summary stat, where 100 is average, and every point above or below is a percentage point above or below average):
Can I just say up front that it’s utterly insane that he hasn’t dipped below a 50 wRC+ for any 15-game stretch? You can’t say he doesn’t slump, but my lord – his slumps are so tame!
But that said, yes, his current slump is among the lowest dips in his career. But as you can see, it’s far from aberrational. This happens to him. Sure, he could sink even lower from here given that the past week has been especially rough for him, but as you can see, he tends to bounce back rather quickly from his lows.
Now for even more comfort.
Most of us have been thinking about Bryant’s slump dating back about a month, when he last hit a home run (yikes – that’s a rough sentence to type). Sure enough, since May 12 – exactly one month since his last game, and 27 games in total – Bryant is hitting just .261/.341/.348 with an 88 wRC+. That’s not awful, but for Kris Bryant to perform 12% worse than average for an entire month … that’s pretty darn bad.
But here’s the comforting part:
He’s totally had dips like this before! Heck, in his MVP season he had a long stretch where these 30-game rolling average dips frequently hovered around this level. Sure, if Bryant struggles in his next three games, his current dip will sink further to below that 100 mark, but even then, he’s had a couple dips like that before, too.
I know what you’re thinking – this stretch still feels a little different somehow. And you’re not wrong. Among other things, it’s the longest homerless streak of Bryant’s career, and the lack of power is concerning.
But does it add a little more comfort that the only way I could find a real outlier – oh no! – type chart was by looking solely at isolated slugging over a 15-game rolling window:
Even in this one, there was was a dip like this during the MVP season.
None of this is to say Kris Bryant is not suffering through a deep, long slump. He is. Instead, I offer this to you to say only that Bryant is human, he’s gone through these kinds of slumps before, and, for whatever predictive power it holds, they don’t seem to last much longer than this.