The Cubs Defense Has Been on Fire So Far This Year, and Kris Bryant Flashed It to Preserve the Win

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The Cubs Defense Has Been on Fire So Far This Year, and Kris Bryant Flashed It to Preserve the Win

Chicago Cubs

You have no doubt noticed it anecdotally, and you saw it again last night in holding down the Cubs’ one-run win over the Royals: the Cubs’ defense has been fantastic this year.

It’s been all kinds of guys making it happen, and last night, it was Kris Bryant flashing the leather (as he has been quite a bit already this year):

If Bryant doesn’t make those plays, the game proceeds completely differently. Ditto David Bote the other night. Ditto Willson Contreras behind the plate. Ditto Javy Báez every night. Ditto Anthony Rizzo constantly making beautiful scoops. Ditto Kyle Schwarber’s arm. Ditto Jason Heyward’s range. And on and on.

On an individual player level, this entire season (50 to 55 games for the average starter) will not be enough data to make useful evaluations based on advanced defensive metrics. Sometimes, even a full regular season is not enough. So be careful with that, please and thanks.

But we can still use the eye test, and the accumulated team data is definitely going to be worth tracking. It’s going to be more evaluative than predictive, but obviously that team data accumulates much more quickly than the opportunities might for an individual player.

And on that team front, the Cubs so far are rating very well: first in the league by DRS, fifth in UZR, and seventh in Defensive Runs.

Pitching and offense always get the bulk of the attention, and mathematically, they do matter more. But we saw in 2016 just how impactful stellar defense can be (that team was historically good defensively, to be fair), and we also have seen how the talent on defense hasn’t always matched the performance the last few years. It’s 11 games, but it’s been nice to see a defense that looks competent and disciplined on the routine stuff (well, that rundown aside … ), and also impresses with some fantastic plays.

Author: Brett Taylor

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