Entering the month of May, the Cubs have not been fun to watch.
Fans enduring the Cubs’ 11-15 start have watched a team with the lowest batting average (.213) and highest earned run average (4.75) in the National League. However, one thing fans can hold their heads high about is Kris Bryant.
If you follow the Cubs On Tap crew, you know that we have made the point to remind people celebrating Bryant’s hot start that many gave up on him over the course of recent seasons.
It has been very refreshing to see Bryant’s rise back to the level of play Cubs fans are used to seeing. His start this season is the best of his career. Yes, even better than 2016 when he eventually won the NL MVP award.
In April 2016, Bryant finished the month with a .289/.372/.506 slash line, which comes out to a .878 OPS and a 136 weighted runs created (wRC+), 36 percent above league average.
This April he was one of of the best players in baseball, leading the NL in extra-base hits. He’s one of the top players in all of baseball in WAR (1.6), has a 188 wRC+, and has career highs in slugging (.667), batting average (.322), on-base percentage (.422), and OPS (1.078).
If you’re not big on statistics, in summary, few players are playing above Kris Bryant’s level right now.
For consecutive off-seasons, fans, media, and anyone else who have fell off the Bryant train have been begging the Cubs to trade him.
In some circumstances, there’s reason to justify, but most of it is because many believe he doesn’t like Chicago or playing for the Cubs, thanks to an interview he did this past offseason. People also believe he won’t be back because his agent is Scott Boras.
A lot of fans believe Bryant peaked too early and is injury prone, too.
Many Cubs fans actually thought David Bote was better than Bryant, too. Obviously, Bryant struggled at certain points between 2018-2020, but overall, Bryant has been one of the Cubs most productive players in franchise history over the course of his career.
Over his tenure, the biggest criticism fans have regarding Bryant is his inability to stay healthy consistently. After playing 150 games or more his first three seasons, he failed to reach that point in 2018 and 2019.
His shoulder injury in 2018 forced him to completely change his swing just so he could return to action, and unfortunately, his 2019 season was mixed with plenty of nagging injuries.
Let’s not ignore Bryant really struggled in 2020. It was his worst season as a Cub. That said, let’s also remember they only played 60 games. Injuries once again played a role, as he only played in 34 of those 60 games due to injuries.
However, if fans or internet analysts are going to judge a player by that small of a sample size, then the Cubs should have traded Bryant after two weeks into his rookie season because he hadn’t hit a home run yet.
At the end of the day, it’s my firm belief that the Cubs need to find a way to get this man a contract extension.
It’s been a long overdue topic, we’ve talked about it in-depth here at On Tap Sports Net. The Cubs, in hindsight, will regret it if they do not get this done.
If I am Bryant, this season is all about reminding people he was the second overall pick in the MLB Draft, won College Player of the Year, won NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, and NL MVP in 2016.
Sure, it’s only April, but you couldn’t have asked for a better month from one of the faces of the Cubs franchise. Enjoy him while you can, otherwise you’ll probably regret complaining about him continuously.