On almost any other morning, when Brett and I start talking about what we’re going to write that day, a Kris Bryant post would be way more desirable than its Jason Heyward counterpart. Today is different, though. And as you can tell by the byline on the Jason Heyward walk-off-fun post, seniority rules.
So here’s my Kris Bryant post! We can still have secondary fun, right?!
By FanGraphs baserunning measure (BsR), the Chicago Cubs are single best baserunning team in the game. That’s often hard to square for some fans, because the Cubs’ 27 stolen bases this season rank 18th most in baseball, which isn’t bad, but is far from anything special.
Baserunning – and, more specifically, the BsR statistic – accounts for a lot more than that. Indeed, it starts with stolen bases and caught stealing, but adds in other baserunning plays, too (like taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, grounding into double plays, and more).
So when you think about it that way, the Cubs’ dominance atop the leaderboard is much easier to square. And, of course, if you watch almost any Cubs game, it’s even easier to see. These guys run the bases very well.
Take Kris Bryant, for example. The Cubs’ 6’5″ third baseman doesn’t look like he’d be one of the better baserunners in baseball, but he certainly is:
BsR Leaderboards 2015-Today:
1. Hamilton: 38.5
2. Betts: 30.4
3. Gordon: 24.2
4. Gardner: 22.0
5. DeShields: 20.8
6. Trout: 20.2
7. Buxton: 19.4
8. Kris Bryant 19.2
9. Bogaerts: 18.9
10. Dyson: 18.2
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) June 7, 2018
So how does he do it with his size and without blazing speed? Well, for one thing, he is faster than he looks, even if he doesn’t have super elite speed. For another thing, he has excellent technique.
And for another: Smarts. Specifically, he doesn’t stop at one base, when there’s another one to be had. Like last night, for example:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 7, 2018
Sure, Bryant swiped second and that’s impressive in its own right (I think he would’ve probably been safe, even with a better throw). But even after only just sliding into second, Bryant pops up and is STILL PLAYING THE GAME.
And because he’s aware of what’s going on, he notices that no one is covering third base, so he takes it (scooting past Maikel Franco, who’s got the ball on the base right next to Bryant). That play takes guts to pull off, but also awareness and a high baseball IQ to even recognize it’s an option.
And that’s one of the ways a guy like Kris Bryant can be one of the best baserunners in the game.