After a ten-base performance yesterday – two homers and a double – Kris Bryant’s season line is now up to .323/.405/.708 with a 192 wRC+, better than every other player in the National League outside of Ronald Acuña Jr., who is at 194. Ditto on the WAR side, where Bryant’s 1.8 is fourth best in baseball, and second in the NL.
Bryant’s 9 homers also have him tied with Acuña among the leaders in baseball, and his 19 extra-base hits are second in baseball (again, to Acuña). If you had to pick a two-horse race for the NL MVP at the moment, those would obviously be your guys.
To date, Bryant is playing at an MVP level, combining his resurgent bat with quality defense at third base, as well as in left field and right field. When Bryant is healthy, this is more or less who he is. I don’t blame anyone who lost sight of that – it’s been a long time since he’s been this healthy – but I think it’s fair to recognize that Bryant isn’t fluking his way into this performance. By the expected statistics, Bryant is getting fortunate on the power side of things, but his xwOBA is nevertheless the highest of his career (ditto his xwOBAcon). Bryant’s walk rate is spot on to his career average, his strikeout rate is below his career average, and his BABIP is only slightly above his career average. You kinda go through his numbers and they all look normal for him, with ISO being the only exception.
So, then, he might not keep it up QUITE this much power production throughout the year, but even with some falling off there, the slash line and wRC+ are going to remain near the top of the league. And if he stays healthy, he’s going to be there in the MVP conversation come August and September.
More Bryant bits as the former MVP gets more and more deserved attention …
Tom Verducci writes about how Kris Bryant has gotten himself back to form – or at least how his swing was always designed to be this productive:
Kris Bryant's beautiful Launch Angle swing, combined with his injuries, turned his storybook career into a nightmare. Now, he's back in MVP form.
Tom Verducci with this excellent look on how Bryant got his groove back https://t.co/Ok3rNMQG62
— ByMattMartell (@ByMattMartell) May 3, 2021
I don’t blame Patrick Mooney for saying out loud what a lot of folks are thinking:
Kris Bryant is performing like an MVP again…for a last-place team on pace to lose 90-plus games. This is not how the Cubs drew it up when they played the service-time game in 2015. Think the Dodgers will be taking notes this week at Wrigley Field? https://t.co/Oi9yjzTQ1Q
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) May 3, 2021
I am not down for having the trade conversation just yet on Bryant, but I’m not an idiot. If he keeps up this level of performance on a team that keeps up this level of losing, the trade rumors will explode in late June. And if there is not a plausible expectation that the Cubs could extend or re-sign Bryant, then we’ll just have to have that talk when it comes.
By the way, Bryant is more than keeping pace with his MVP season:
Because he's been so freakin' awesome I'm using my super powers at @obvious_shirts to make the best Kris Bryant shirt $5 off with the code CERAMISHOP
BUT ONLY UNTIL FIRST PITCH (6:40 CT).
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 3, 2021
It was a great week overall for Bryant, who’ll probably get NL Player of the Week consideration:
Kris Bryant was on another level last week!
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 3, 2021