Exit Interviews – The Eater Of Worlds
G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP
151 650 26 87 99 13 11.8 % 30.6 % .213 .378
AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
.275 .369 .488 .371 136 7.1 34.3 7.1 6.5
This almost seems stupid. Well, not almost. What the fuck am I going to say about Kris Bryant that you don’t already know? He’s fucking awesome. He’s going to be awesome for a decade and more. He’s going to terrorize the NL Central. He’s going to capture us all in those baby blues. He’ll probably make even more funny videos. According to fWAR he was one of the 10 best players in the game, and that was at 23. There wouldn’t seem to be a limit.
So let’s find something to talk about, and those who like to kvetch about certain things will look at the strikeouts. 30% is not something anyone is going to consider an acceptable K-rate. Bryant himself doesn’t either, though he admits he’s going to strike out a lot. There’s a lot, and then there’s an obscene amount. 199 definitely leans toward obscene if not is actually obscene.
When I saw Bryant in Arizona, I wrote that I didn’t think strikeouts had to be a career-long issue. Bryant doesn’t have a wild, long, at times uncontrollable swing. He has great balance. He’s obviously got a good eye for the zone, because he walked 12% of the time and 77 times overall. It feels like those two things should combine to make for less strikeouts, or should. I’m going to attempt to get nerdy here and use zone profiles. We’re all in this together.
That’s Bryant’s swing rate purely on fastballs. It’s no secret that he was attacked with fastballs on his hands because if he gets extended, scoreboards tend to get dented.
And there’s his whiffs per swing. As you can see, the problem is above the zone. Now, tons of sluggers throughout the years have been susceptible to the high fastball. Maybe that never changes, but given Bryant’s feel for the zone, it doesn’t feel like a stretch that he could one day simply lay off the high cheese. Because even with fastballs at the top of the zone, and slightly inside, he still crushed to the tune of a 1.333 slugging percentage.
Same thing here. This is Bryant’s whiffs-per-swing on sliders and curves. Again, the problems are all out of the zone, which they would tend to be when you’re getting your first look at major league quality breaking pitches. These pitches in the zone? Every quadrant in the zone has a slugging over .600 and some over 1.200. Again, I just think with the balance and quickness his swing can have, the K-rate is going to come down. He’ll never be Pujols-like or anything, but we’d all run for the exits if he can get the K-rate down below 25%. And I don’t see a reason he can’t.
Of course, my other observation of Bryant out of spring training was that he couldn’t stick at 3rd. And he turned out to be one of the better 3rd basemen around. Or at least slightly above average. He doesn’t have great range and he probably won’t, but he sucks up what he gets to. That might not prevent him from moving to center next season, but much like Addison he’ll get better and better as he knows the league (though I think Baez could end up better at 3rd defensively but that’s for another time).
Look, Bryant is clearly a gift to all Cubs fans. We can’t let the last two weeks ruin the narrative of the six months that came before it. This isn’t Jerome Walton. Bryant could even have Rizzo’s sophomore season next year, and none of us should worry. And it’s hard to see how he could be better than a 6-WAR season. If he is, we’re talking Harper-Trout territory. That’s ridiculous. But y’know, a 40 homer season doesn’t seem unreasonable, does it? A .300 hitter? .400 OBP? Easy. These things could totally happen. God, I’m getting the vapors.