Kris Bryant, who homered once every 11.78 at bats in the minor leagues, has yet to go yard at the big league level. Yet, despite being homer-less in his first 59 plate appearances, the Cubs’ offense has picked up since Byrant’s arrival to The Show.
The Cubs have averaged 4.46 runs per game (58 runs, 13 games) since the call-up. The team entered its April 17 tilt against the Padres with a .224/.315/.390/.705 slash line. Since Bryant arrived on the scene, the Cubs are slashing .270/.341/.378/.719 over the last 12 games, which pushes their season slash to .254/.332/.382/.714.
The .332 on-base percentage has been key in the offense’s resurgence. It ranks sixth in baseball and third in the National League behind the Dodgers and Cardinals.
Part of the team’s offensive resurgence is due to Bryant’s other offensive skills as he has 14 hits (.304 average, .438 BABIP) and 12 walks in 13 games.
In the last two weeks, only four players (Josh Reddick, Dee Gordon, Matt Holliday, Anthony Rizzo) have a higher on-base percentage than Bryant’s .458. While only two players (Bryce Harper, Joc Pederson) have a higher walk rate than Bryant’s 21.8 percent.
And yet, that just scratches the surface of his productivity.
Bryant has collected 7 hits and 7 walks in 24 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. That adds up to a .412 average and .583 on-base percentage.
Simply having players on base in front of him has been beneficial to Bryant’s strong start. Bryant has 11 hits in 28 at bats to go along with 9 walks with men on. Hitting .393 with a .541 OBP in those situations has kept the line moving for the guys behind him.
The trickle-down effect is real. Just ask Rizzo and Dexter Fowler.
Rizzo’s on-base percentage in his last 13 games is .508, with a 15.3 percent walk rate. The line-up behind Rizzo has done a good job bringing him in as he has scored 11 runs in those 13 games. Three of those times, Rizzo himself has been driven in by Bryant.
Fowler, the Cubs’ lead-off man, had a .297 on-base percentage and 8.1 percent walk rate in his first eight games of the season, but has really picked up his play since then.
In his last 12 games, he has a .415 OBP, bringing his season percentage up to .367. Fowler’s walk rate in his last 12 games is 9.4 percent. Because he has been getting on base at a steady clip, he has also been driven in by Bryant on three occasions.
Increased production out of the top of the order, despite Jorge Soler’s .232/.295/.304/.599 slash line since April 17, has benefited the middle of the order. Which in turn has made the line-up that much deeper.
It wasn’t too long ago when moving Starlin Castro down in the order could be considered a head-scratching decision. But since Castro has moved out of the clean-up spot, he is hitting .339 with 8 of his 12 RBI coming in his last 13 games as he has taken advantage of the newfound table setters ahead of him.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for opposing pitchers to get through the Cubs order with ease when Fowler and Rizzo are working counts and getting on base, while Castro and others await their respective turns at the dish.
But it is the man in the middle that has really changed the offensive dynamic the last few weeks.