In an effort to protect his injured left shoulder, Kris Bryant has tried to tinker with his swing over the past few months. Bryant is known for the very high, one-handed finish on his swing, but obviously that puts a whole lot of extra strain on that left – injured – shoulder. So if he could just reduce that a little, perhaps he’d be good to go? That was kind of the thinking, in any case.
Bryant tried to incorporate a two-handed finish to his swing, which was definitely an odd sight to see, but as you’ve probably noticed, it has really faded in the last week or so. Ultimately, you want a guy to be healthy, but you also want him out there being himself. And maybe there’s a middle ground here where Bryant can still use his normal swing in the games, but protect himself for the rest of the year.
“In practice in the cages, I try to limit the intensity of the swings [with a two-handed finish], but in the game I think my natural instincts take over, and that’s how I’ve always swung and how I’ve always played the game,” Bryant told Cubs.com. “I don’t think I’ll change it any.”
If it feels OK to Bryant – if he feels strong, healthy, and more or less normal in his shoulder – then whatever, right? At this point in the year, he’s going to get rest soon enough, so it’s not like he needs to be proactive enough to ride out another three or four months of swinging.
The other issue, though, is whether Bryant is actually producing like a healthy version of himself. You may recall that he played for a solid month after the initial injury, and although much of his game was unaffected, his power disappeared. No one wants to see that again (though, to be candid, there’s probably still some diminished level of production that you’d take, because it still might be better than the other options).
A few things to that end:
- Bryant’s overall season line is still a pretty darn strong .281/.382/.474 (130 wRC+).
- Since returning the second time from his shoulder injury, on September 1, Bryant is hitting .309/.391/.473 (134 wRC+).
- Although his power still isn’t anywhere close to what you’d expect from a 100% Kris Bryant, it’s definitely started to tick back up:
I think, given Bryant’s swing and comments, coupled with a nice trend on the power side of the equation, it’s reasonable to have some optimism that Kris Bryant is going to be KRIS BRYANT by the time the postseason rolls around. I think you have to keep your heart guarded a little, because clearly he was/is dealing with a pretty serious shoulder issue, but right now, things really seem to be clicking.
Consider that homer he drove to right-center on Monday night. How much did this look like the Kris Bryant we’ve always known and loved:
JD calls KB's shot. pic.twitter.com/k6FU4GoNUF
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 18, 2018
That’s a ton of power. I don’t think Bryant pulls that off a month ago. Don’t get me wrong, you’d be foolish to put too much stock in a single swing, but, again, coupled with everything else … optimism. I have some optimism.
Over there. Way out there. Hit it way out there: