Kris Bryant is Having Another Brilliant Season – But Admits He Doesn't Want to Let People Down

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Kris Bryant is Having Another Brilliant Season – But Admits He Doesn’t Want to Let People Down

Chicago Cubs

Although Willson Contreras and Javy Baez were justifiably voted in an All-Stars by the fans this year, the Cubs’ third All-Star, Kris Bryant, was selected thereafter. He wasn’t the fans’ most popular choice at third base, but he was deemed to be among the best of the best in the league this year by those closest to the game.

Bryant, who is still happily playing at third base and in the outfield as needed, is hitting .297/.403/.552 this year with a 148 wRC+, equal to that of his MVP campaign in 2016, and 10th best in baseball. He deserved his All-Star selection.

It’s a special thing for a guy who dealt with shoulder problems – and doubters – almost all of 2018. I was very happy to see the way Bryant has bounced back.

There’s a great read in the Sun-Times this All-Star break on Bryant, who admits that some of the (completely irrational and BS) criticism he received last year for his play (through injuries) or for his rest (because of injuries) got to him:

The article is a great read for everything, from Bryant’s background to his father’s takes to Bryant’s humility.

Given that so much of the recent conversation about Bryant has involved his hitting in the biggest spots, I did think these two quotes really stood out:

  • “I just care so much,” Bryant said. “Every big situation, I want to come through. Every big play, I want to make it. And then when I don’t, I feel like it’s the end of the world. I feel like I let everybody down.”
  • “He’s just got to get back to where he was [going],” Javy Baez said. “The pressure sometimes is what gets everybody, not just him. I go through it, too. I was [feeling it] in April, or the beginning of the season. But we all know what KB can do. He’s done it in the past, and he’ll do it in the future.”

I am not going to play armchair sports psychologist, and I’d advise you against it, too. But we do know that there is a natural reaction in the body to perceive and react to pressure-filled situations, as Baez notes. You don’t want to assume that poor *results* in big spots necessarily means it is *because* of a player’s negative reaction to the pressure, but you also don’t want to run away from this conversation if there is something to be addressed. I have no idea if that’s what is being alluded to in those two quotes, but it’s not unfair to want your best players to be as successful in the biggest spots as they are in the rest of the game. As Baez suggests, it’s pretty hard to imagine Bryant not being that guy again.

A couple stray Twitter bits on Kris Bryant that I think are worth noting in this context:

My hope, of course, is that there isn’t signal, and it’s just a 3.5-year fluke. That’s *possible*, because it’s still less than one season’s worth of plate appearances, and a big chunk of them came in a season when his shoulder was largely mucked up.

But you also hope that Bryant is aware of this information, and it sounds like he is. From there, you just want to see a guy take to heart however pitchers are attacking him in these situations, so that he and the Cubs and his coaches can be brutally honest about whether the combination of his own approach and the pitchers’ plans are creating situations where he is less effective than he otherwise usually is. And then, whether it’s mental or mechanical or gameplanning or simply the approach, you would like to see an adjustment bear itself out over the coming months and years.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.