Warm it up, Kris!
I’m about to.
Warm it up, Kris!
‘Cause that’s what I was born to do.
It’s gotten to the point with Kris Bryant’s greatness — and make no mistake, that’s what we’re witnessing — that you just expect him to amazing things every time he’s up to bat. You’ve probably seen the critiques by now, but I don’t know that anyone took seriously the idea that Bryant might be overrated or that we needed to pump the brakes on him. If, however, there were still some doubters remaining Friday night, the future NL MVP made a pair of convincing arguments.
With the Cubs trailing 4-2 in the 8th, Bryant led off the inning with one of his trademark towering blasts that traveled 416 feet just to the left of center. When he came to the plate again in the 10th with his team tied and a man on, Bryant crushed another home run 402 feet to right center to put the Cubs on top for good.
Here’s video of the twin blasts set to the calls of Len Kasper, Pat Hughes, and Vin Scully. Enjoy.
The funny thing with Bryant is that it’s these very same parabolic homers that have led many to malign his credentials as a transcendent hitter. Whether it’s the crouch he hits out of (no leverage!) or the steep uppercut (which has actually flattened out appreciably, as Zack Moser illustrated over at BP Wrigleyville) of his swing plane, critics have tried to find all the reasons Bryant can’t keep this up long-term. Y’all can keep on looking for holes, KB will just keep filling them in.[beautifulquote align=”right”]You can’t tell me that a dude who’s hitting 108 and 104 mph needs to square the ball up better or hit it with more leverage.[/beautifulquote]
I know a lot, maybe too much, is made of batted-ball velocity, but you can’t tell me that a dude who’s hitting 108 and 104 mph needs to square the ball up better or hit it with more leverage. And while the end result is all that really matters, hitting it harder means you’re more likely to come away with good results.
With Friday’s performance, Bryant is now at 12.5 career bWAR, just behind Joe DiMaggio for 3rd all-time in terms of production in one’s first two years in the league (apologies to Mike Trout, who’s not really represented fairly there). And speaking of being ahead of Trout, Bryant has now edged ahead of the best player in baseball in fWAR (7.3 to 7.1) here in 2016. His 107 runs scored are 6 more than anyone else in baseball and his 35 home runs lead the National League.
And he’s still getting better, still learning to be a major league hitter.
That’s really bad news for opposing pitchers, for whom I actually feel a little sorry at this point. To that end, I’m going to give a very valuable piece of advice: don’t make mistakes. You can try to beat Bryant with junk, but you’d best not leave one over the heart of the plate.
I don’t think even the most enthusiastic Kris Bryant supporter believed he’d be this good this soon, but now I’m thinking what we’re seeing is only the beginning. We’re talking about a guy who’s earning “M-V-P” chants on the road (though it’s LA, so the Dodgers fans had probably been gone for 4 innings by the the game-winning homer was hit) and who’s been on Wrigleyville billboards since before he got called up.
Now go watch that video a few more times and pinch yourself as a reminder that, despite how dreamy Bryant appears, this isn’t just a dream.