When we last checked in on Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant nine days ago, he had just hit a walk-off home run against the Marlins and was making a case that this was a bounceback year from a down 2018.
Since then, he has blasted five more long balls, including three in a 14-6 blowout win over the Nationals on Friday.
Is this the best we’ve ever seen of Bryant, who won the National League MVP award in 2016? At least at the plate, there’s a strong case to be made.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of categories in which Bryant currently has a career best: walk rate (15.3 percent), strikeout rate (17.9 percent), on-base plus slugging (.986) and weighted runs created plus (162). He has also been getting better as the season progresses, hitting .364/.493/.873 this month. That improvement could continue as he moves farther away from the persistent shoulder injuries that hampered him last year and limited him to 102 games.
“From some of the (criticism) that I’ve heard and read and saw there’s maybe a little bit of extra satisfaction,” Bryant told reporters Friday. “But inside I always had that confidence in me, and I’ll continue to have that until I’m done playing.”
While defensive metrics have been less kind to Bryant than they were in past campaigns, when he rated as an above-average fielder, those numbers are notoriously finicky outside of large sample sizes.
The Cubs are certainly enjoying his production, and it’s no coincidence that they’re 9-4 in May with their slugger on such a roll.