In an enjoyable read over at Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal writes about Kris Bryant’s quest for MVP honors this year, and points out a unique overlap between Bryant and Cardinals all-time great Stan Musial. Should Bryant go on to win the MVP, he would join Musial as the only players in big league history to win the award in a season spent splitting time (at least 30 games each) between the infield and the outfield.
We’ve noted for a good long while that Bryant’s versatility – he’s not just positionally flexible, he’s affirmatively good defensively at both the corner infield and corner outfield spots – is what separates him from most of the field in the MVP race, and, increasingly, his offensive numbers are probably going to do the trick anyway. It’s exceedingly rare to find a player so good with the bat also being so good with the glove at multiple spots that moving him around even makes sense, which I suppose is why the factoid noted by Rosenthal is a thing.
Rosenthal goes on to note, by the way, that when Musial won the MVP, he was moved from left field to first base mid-season. Contrast that with Bryant, who bounces among positions on a near daily basis (sometimes in the same game). We’ve not seen an MVP-caliber player like that before, at least not one who can move between the infield and outfield as smoothly and effectively as Bryant. He’s truly a special player, and he leads baseball in WAR for a reason (7.5, at present, just ahead of Mike Trout, at 7.2).
Oh, for what it’s worth: in the MVP year in which he split time between first base and left field, Musial was worth 8.8 WAR. Bryant is currently on pace to hit 9.0.
If you’re looking for an additional smile, you can read the mentions below Rosenthal’s tweet of the article, in which the Best Fans in Baseball – which came in for a mention early in the piece – take issue with the Bryant-Musial comparison (which is not at all what Rosenthal actually wrote):
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 29, 2016
And, for my part, as I watched Cardinals fans losing it on Twitter – and Cubs fans baiting them – I couldn’t help but drop a little visual trollery on both:
The hero asks himself, "How can I troll two fanbases at once with a topical photoshop?" pic.twitter.com/YPM6yXZoQQ
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) August 29, 2016