Oct 13, 2021: The Giants’ Kris Bryant loves how a sport based on exact proportions -- 90 feet, base to base -- fosters irregularities, even when those affect him.
Bryant had been a fixture with the Cubs, but at the Trade Deadline, he found himself shipped west. Since arriving in San Francisco, he has played third base and all three outfield positions. But for Game 3 of the National League Division Series, he found himself at first base for the first time as a Giant and just the 33rd time in a career that has spanned seven seasons.
“I like the randomness of it -- keeps me on my toes,” said Bryant, 29, who, at the end of the season, is eligible to enter free agency -- a wild ride that usually ends with a substantial paycheck for players of his caliber.
There is a certain order to the Giants and Dodgers meeting in a deciding fifth game, each with 109 wins since Opening Day, to determine who will face the Braves in the NL Championship Series. But the games between the rivals have been tight and unpredictable.
When first baseman Brandon Belt sustained a left thumb fracture late in the regular season, Giants manager Gabe Kapler knew Bryant would pick up his scooper mitt with no hesitation.
“My first call with Kris after we acquired him from the Cubs, he said, ‘I'll play any position, I’ll hit anywhere in the lineup -- I just want to help this team win,’” Kapler said. “He’s been very flexible, which is nice. Getting a bat of that caliber and that quality, and knowing that they can play anywhere and they are going to be ready to go gives us the flexibility to do a lot of things. So I guess it’s not just Kris, but also what that does for the rest of the roster and how we can construct our lineups.”
Bryant’s time with the Giants is an example of tumult that’s sometimes merry, sometimes not.
The Giants brought in Bryant -- a four-time All-Star, including this year while still with the Cubs, who was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the NL MVP in '16 as Chicago broke its World Series drought -- for more than his ability to go with the flow.
Bryant carries a .298 batting average and .973 OPS against lefties in his regular-season career. Acquiring him was important to the Giants, who were trying to counter Dodgers lefty starters Clayton Kershaw (out for the postseason with elbow/forearm pain) and Game 5 starter Julio Urías, who held San Francisco to one run in five innings of L.A.'s Game 2 victory at Oracle Park. Bryant sparkled with a 1.137 OPS against lefty pitching over 91 plate appearances this season with the Cubs.
After the trade, his OPS vs. lefties plummeted to .581 -- including a .200 batting average with one home run and two doubles -- over 62 plate appearances. Then again, even with a lineup that includes veteran right-handed hitters Buster Posey and Evan Longoria, the Giants are 11-11 against lefty starters since the All-Star break (including Game 2 against Urías), after going 16-10 against southpaws in the first half. The problems go beyond Bryant.
Kapler isn’t acknowledging that his Giants have a lefty problem. They simply must find a way against a lefty in Urías who earned a Major League-leading 20 regular-season wins this year and has posted a 1.29 ERA in seven postseason games over the past two years.
“I would chalk up some of our ... I wouldn’t call them struggles, but more recently us not being all that explosive on offense to running up against some really good pitchers, and I think that’s what happens in the postseason,” Kapler said.
Bryant went 0-for-4 in Game 2. But here’s the thing: even with all his rough numbers, including a 6-for-35 (.171) finish in his final 10 regular-season games, Bryant is certifiably a dangerous bat right now.
In the series, Bryant has gone 6-for-13 with a home run, two RBIs and a walk. It’s almost as if Bryant’s embrace of the disorder that baseball fosters has allowed him to push aside his post-trade struggles, relax and produce when it matters.
Bryant has a .247 batting average and .309 on-base percentage in 43 postseason games -- not exactly world-beating numbers. But he also has seven home runs, eight doubles, a triple, 18 RBIs and 18 runs scored. He’s made his hits count.
In the postseason, and in whatever plate appearances he has against Urías, Bryant just has to find the swings that have made him a postseason asset.
“You just know what to expect,” Bryant said of the postseason. “You just look at the scores and they’re super low-scoring games. It’s really, 'Who can have the one really good at-bat when the team needs it most?' It’s just weird how the playoffs end up working that way.” (T Harding - MLB.com - Oct 13, 2021)
|Birth City:||Las Vegas, NV|
|Draft:||Cubs #1 - 2013 - Out of Univ. of San Diego (CA)|
Bryant has been working his whole life for a chance to play professional baseball. Whether it was time spent in a backyard batting cage that his father built, or excruciating workouts with his high school and college teammates, he's always stayed focused on his one ultimate goal.
Mike Bryant taught his son Kris and future Texas Ranger Joey Gallo how to hit while they were growing up in Las Vegas.
When Kris and his brother were growing up, his parents made sure the boys kept up with school work.
"They didn't play until the homework got done," their mother, Susie said. "We always hoped the baseball would get him a scholarship. Education was very important to us."
Armed with a 4.78 GPA and an uncanny ability to drive the ball out of any ballpark, Kris chose to attend the University of San Diego.
By the time Bryant was 16, he could toss a ball some 300 feet, the length of a football field.
Kris might be a bit too laid-back and need to exhibit more energy for the game. But he has a good work ethic an attitude. He's just quiet.
"You have to have a positive mind-set, because this game can really beat you up," Bryant said. "I feel really blessed that I'm able to play this game professionally. The main thing for me to focus on is just staying positive. If I have the right mind-set, going out there every day wanting to play and having a smile on my face, I really think the sky is the limit."
His father, Mike Bryant, was a farmhand in the Red Sox system in the 1980s. And Mike still clearly remembers the day he realized Kris was special.
“We were on an elementary school playground, he was 5 years old, at his older brother’s practice,” Mike Bryant recalled. “At the end of the practice, the coach let the younger siblings take a couple hacks—there were like three of them. So I went up there, I was throwing some overhand tosses. The other kids took a couple swings. The first ball I threw to Kris, he launched it into the air—it had to go 30 feet into the outfield. He had this huge bat, like a 31-inch bat, and he was tiny. The ball just—it jumped, it soared. One swing. I had him take a couple more—it was line drives. He just had . . . something. At 8 years old he started hitting them out over the Little League fence, 200-foot fences. And as a 9-year-old, he was hitting tons of them. Home runs, man.”
At age 9, Bryant hit seven home runs at a club tournament, and his father first recognized a fire burning inside him to become great. Growing up in Las Vegas, Bryant played in several tournaments with phenom Bryce Harper. Bryant is 10 months older, but both of them were constantly playing up against older competition.
To say all of his preparation has been all work is a bit of an overstatement, but only because Kris has certainly had a lot of fun with it over the years. He knows keeping the game loose and fun is a critical element to progressing through the ranks, and that isn't any different than how he has ever treated the game.
"Some guys (in pro ball), they like to hope for a rainout or something, for an off-day," Bryant said. "My mind-set is just to go out there and have fun, do the best I can on the field, and good things will come my way."
In the 1980s, Kris's father, Mike Bryant, wore uniform #17 when he was in the minors. So that number is kind of special to Kris.
Bryant's father loves baseball but never pushed his son to play the game. Mike Bryant did, however, install that batting cage at their home in Las Vegas.
"I wouldn't say he worked me hard; I would say it's me wanting to do good," Bryant said of his father. "He was never the dad who made me go out to the field and practice. It was me going out there asking him, 'Could you throw to me after work?'"
"I think you need parents like that," Bryant said. "You don't want someone to push you to the point where you don't want to play any more. My dad never did that."
In 2010, Kris got drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round, out of Bonanza High School in Las Vegas. But Kris chose a baseball scholarship to the University of San Diego, passing up offers from LSU, Arizona State, UC-Irvine, Stanford, Clemson, Auburn, USC, and Vanderbilt,
Bryant says he chose to attend USD because of the great baseball program, the beach, and the weather in San Diego.
In 2011, Bryant earned freshman All-America honors. And first-team All-America honors in 2012.
In the summer of 2012, he ranked second on Team USA with an .876 OPS.
In 2013, Bryant was Baseball America’s College Player of the Year.
At the University of San Diego, Kris led the nation with 31 home runs.
Bryant is loaded with character and makeup. He is very coachable, applying instruction quickly. He has impressive intelligence and a strong work ethic.
Kris is very much into cars. He also likes playing golf.
- In 2013, Kris was considered the best power college bat in the draft after leading the nation in home runs (31), runs scored (80), walks and slugging percentage (.820). In 62 games, he batted .329 with 13 doubles and 62 RBIs. San Diego would bat him leadoff to avoid having teams pitch around him.
The third baseman received the Dick Howser trophy as the 2013 College Player of the Year.
Bryant has a 6-foot-5 build that draws comparisons to Troy Glaus.
In 2013, Bryant won the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award as the nation's best amateur player.
In 2013, the Cubs chose Bryant in the first round (see Transactions below).
One of Kris's best characteristics is his willingness to learn. Many of the Cubs' Minor League coaching staff described him as a "sponge," eager to listen and learn.
"Getting to know Kris in the short period of time [he's been with the Cubs], he's going to make adjustments when he feels things aren't right or he feels he needs to make some type of physical adjustment," said Anthony Iapoce, the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator in October 2013. "He'll start making those on his own, or he'll come and question, and say, 'Hey, I want to do this.' He won't sit there and keep making outs. He's going to find a way to adjust, or he wouldn't be the second pick in the Draft."
Iapoce wasn't about to make any drastic changes in Bryant's approach.
"He loves baseball, and he wants to be the best at it," Iapoce said. "He knows the work he's put in has given him confidence for what he wants to accomplish."
In 2014, Baseball America rated Bryant as the second-best prospect in the Cubs organization (behind only Javier Baez). And in the offseason before 2015 spring training, they had Kris at #1.
In 2013, Kris was named Most Valuable Player in the Arizona Fall League.
Bryant has said, "This game is my passion, and I love every minute of it." When he was younger, he would go to Minor League games in Las Vegas to see the 51s play.
"It's just the fact that you're seeing a professional baseball player, and everyone there seems larger than life," he said. "It's cool to see someone there who has made it into professional baseball. It was a dream for me to play there, and I get to live out that dream now."
Speaking of growing up in Vegas, Bryant is not a gambler, but he did see a few shows on the strip. "You definitely stay away from the craziness," he said. (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/13/2014)
In 2014, Baseball America's annual survey of Minor League Managers had Bryant named as the "Best Batting Prospect," "Best Power Prospect," "Best Infield Arm" and the "Most Exciting Player" in the Southern League.
In 2014, Cubs' top prospect Bryant was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year.
A handful of organizations hand out a minor league player of the year award, but Baseball America’s is considered to be the most prestigious by many. Bryant led the minors in extra-base hits, home runs (43), slugging (.661) and OPS (1.098).
In 2014, Bryant was named the Cub's Minor League Player of the Year.
Manager Joe Maddon's first impressions of Bryant at 2015 Spring Training?
"That he gets it," Maddon said. "Of course, he's talented, great body, great power, wonderful arm, good third baseman, good outfielder. He's a lot of good things and he gets it. I think he understands the work involved necessary to be great. He's rather humble for me. He's not outgoing in a sense in a negative way. He knows he's good. There's also a humility about him, too." (Muskat - mlb.com - 2/23/2015)
After the 2014 season, Bryant had a busy offseason. Besides accepting awards, he went to an Angels playoff game with his agent Scott Boras, which was made public because Boras' seats are directly behind home plate.
"It was definitely a cool atmosphere," Bryant said. "Just to see that sea of red of fans in the stands for the Angels was definitely something cool, and I hope to be part of a team, definitely the Cubs, to see a sea of blue at Wrigley Field some day."
Bryant also took advantage of a batting cage at home, hitting nearly every day since January 1, 2015. His father believes in Ted Williams' approach to hitting, and he tried to pass on tips to his son.
"We do a lot of research and just looking at the angles of how the ball is coming in and where I need my bat to be to hit that ball squarely," Bryant said. "It's definitely a more advanced approach and gives me a headache at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way." (Muskat - mlb.com - 2/23/2015)
Kris was able to spend time with his grandparents, his cat Wrigley, and relive some very good childhood memories as he returned home.
"When I came here growing up, it seemed so larger than life," Bryant said of Cashman Field in Mesa, Arizona, where the Cubs have split-squad matchups with the Athletics.
"Everybody on the field looked like it was such a reach for me to be there, and now I'm in that position, playing on this field, on a field where I got a chance to watch players play on," Bryant said. "It's a surreal feeling for me. I know it's only a Triple-A field but it still has a special place in my heart, trying to get foul balls down the line."
Bryant and his family would buy tickets for what he called the "cheap seats" at Cashman along the right field line. He'd chase after foul balls, but didn't try to collect autographs.
"I just wanted to come watch the game," Bryant said. "One time I got a seat right behind home plate, and that's a game I remember, because I got to see the pitching up close and the velocity and the break, and I was like, 'I want to be there someday,' and I'm standing here right now." (Carrie Muskat - MLB.com - March 13, 2015)
2015 Spring Training seems to have verified all the things we thought we knew about Bryant. That is, he's on his way to becoming baseball's next great player. Sometimes, the bottom line couldn't be simpler.
"It's almost comical to see some of the things he's done," teammate Jake Arrieta said. "He's like a video game. He gets the ball in the air, and he's just so strong. It seems like he's hitting 450-foot popups, and they never come down."
When scouts talk about the baseball coming off the bat of certain guys with a distinctive sound, they're talking about players like Bryant. It's a sound that's impossible to describe, but baseball men know it when they hear it. It helps define the special ones.
"There are a bunch of guys who have superstar capabilities," Cubs hitting coach John Mallee said. "He falls in that category. He's got tremendous bat speed and long arms and a lot of leverage. He's also very consistent."
"When you watch him hit, you get excited," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "When you talk to him, you get even more excited. He's very unassuming. The statements come from his play. He's not a big talker. But he's confident. He's very confident. He's not going to back away from the fact that he's good and knows he's good. He does it the right way."
Mallee worked with Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Altuve during his stops with the Marlins and Astros. In Bryant, he sees some similar traits.
"It's the way he carries himself and how professional he is," Mallee said. "He's the same guy whether he strikes out or hits a home run. There's no emotion with him, no fear. He's very mature for his age in regard to how he handles different situations. His ability to bounce back after a pitch or if the umpire makes a bad call. He blows it off and gets ready for the next pitch."
Bryant certainly has dealt with the attention in stride. He seems completely unflappable about both the success and the speculation on where he'll begin the season. As the Cubs say, almost too good to be true.
"I'm always having fun," he said. "We get to play a game for a living. It's hard not to go out there with a smile on your face." (Justice - mlb.com - 3/15/2015)
Kris' dad, Mike Bryant played the guitar. He was in a band once; they played Southern-style rock music, though Mike Bryant grew up near Boston.
He says he would have been just as proud had Kris picked up a guitar instead of one of those baseball bats at an early age.
With all the home runs Kris had already belted the spring of 2015, it's hard to imagine that Bryant had time in his schedule to do anything else. Thankfully for one young Cubbies fan, Bryant has managed to squeeze in a moment or two to put his John Hancock on some baseball swag.
As if an up-and-coming star signing autographs for a child at Spring Training isn't inherently so cute we just can't handle it, this little boy has to go and continuously call Bryant by his first and last name as though he's speaking directly to a trading card or action figure.
“A million thanks to Kris Bryant @KrisBryant_23 for making my son so incredibly happy. Thank you so much, Kris! #Cubs”(Bertha – mlb.com – 3/19/2015)
When the Cubs sent Bryant to Triple-A near the end of 2015 spring training, it caused quite an uproar. The Chicago fans, media, the media in every other market and the MLBPA threated litigation.
Kris' bat made it a good point. When he was sent down on March 30, 2015, he had hit .425 with 9 home runs and 15 RBI in 40 at-bats.
"Today is a bad day for baseball," the Major League Baseball Players Association said in a statement. "I think we all know that even if Kris Bryant were a combination of the greatest players to play our game, and perhaps he will be before it's all said and done, the Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both."
And MLB defended the Cubs' decision.
"In accordance with long established practice under the Basic Agreement, a club has an unfettered right to determine which players are part of its opening-day roster," MLB said in a statement. "This issue was discussed extensively in bargaining in 2011, and the principle was not changed. We do not believe that it is appropriate for the players' association to make the determination that Kris Bryant should be on the Cubs' 25-man roster while another player, who, unlike Bryant, is a member of its bargaining unit, should be cut or sent to the minor leagues."
April 17, 2015: The sport that lost Derek Jeter in 2014 welcomed another bright, talented kid onto its biggest stage, just as it did on Sept. 17, 1953, when Ernie Banks went 0-for-3 in a 16-4 loss to the Phillies.
"I try to be as good of a person as I do a player, even a better person,'' Bryant said. "I think that's important. To come in the footsteps of a guy like [Banks], it's a huge honor to wear this uniform he wore before me, and other guys before him. I'm ready to put it on and make him proud.''
Bryant, the Las Vegas native who made a name for himself hitting home runs at University of San Diego, wore No. 17 when he took the field. That's the number his father, Mike, wore when he was playing in the Red Sox's farm system.
In 181 Minor League games, he delivered a slash line of .327/.426/.667 while hitting 55 home runs and driving in 152 runs. He had homered for Iowa in New Orleans, and had a second home run taken away by a leaping catch at the wall.
Maddon liked that the guy who was the Cubs' best hitter in the Cactus League (.425, nine homers, 15 RBIs in 40 at-bats) had to get up early and travel to Chicago for his hastily scheduled debut.
"I love that,'' Maddon said before the game. "He's a little bit blurry-eyed right now, bloodshot, no sleep. Lot of excitement, his family coming to town, day game, Wrigley Field, 70 degrees in April, I'm sure he's feeling all that. But to be that tired can help you relax. I think it's almost the perfect setting for him to show up.''
Bryant demonstrated his poise to his teammates with his strong play in the field, especially on a diving grab to his right when he used his full height of 6-foot-5 1/2 (according to Epstein)
"Way to be tall!'' Maddon yelled from the bench.
One of Maddon's favorite phrases is, "Don't let the pressure exceed the pleasure,'' and he said that Bryant has told him the phrase resonates with him.
"He's mentioned that to me,'' Maddon said. "I like the idea that he has grasped onto that because it's pertinent to him. I think that's a simple phrase to follow whenever things get complicated. Things get complicated if you permit them.'' (Phil Rogers - MLB.com - April 17, 2015)
April 24, 2015: Bryant said he prefers to stay focused on the field, and not on any potential grievance that the Major League Baseball Players Association may consider filing on his behalf because of the timing of his callup.
"For me, I'm just supposed to play on the field and worry about what I do out there," Bryant said. "I'm not worried about the stuff off the field. I'm here to help the team win now, and I'm having fun with it."
There has been some talk about the union possibly filing a grievance. Bryant said he'd like to see some discussion about players and service time, which may lead to a change in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but he also cautioned that he's not well-versed in the matter.
"I'd have to be more educated on the subject," Bryant said. "I feel I can't really speak about it now. I don't really know what I'm supposed to do."
Bryant, said he would hope to have final say since it is his career that's being discussed. He'd also like to just stick to baseball talk.
"That whole situation is in the past," Bryant said. "I'm not even thinking about it right now. I'm here now, which is awesome. It's a dream of mine that came true. I really don't care to speak about it any more. It's in the past." (C Muskat - MLB.com - April 24, 2015)
May 9, 2015: The moment Bryant's first Major League home run landed in the Brewers' bullpen, Marcus Hanel knew exactly what he would do with it.
"We're all family, and that's a cherished moment," said Hanel, a Wisconsin native and longtime Brewers bullpen catcher. "I'm not going to hold ransom for that. I mean, yeah, I wish I was a fan, because that thing would have been cool. But that's a moment for him and for baseball. You give those things back."
The next morning, Bryant sent a clubhouse attendant to deliver a signed baseball for Hanel. Inscribed "To Koos" (Hanel's nickname), it read, "Thanks for getting the HR ball!"
Considering the buildup to Bryant's power-hitting-professional-career moment, Hanel knew he had something special when the baseball hit the back wall in the Brewers' bullpen and rolled to a stop. "I knew as soon as it was hit, 'OK, who's coming to get it?' I saw the security people already talking," Hanel said.
The someone turned out to be visiting clubhouse attendant Ben Wilkes. "I go, 'I ain't giving it up! I want a bat, a jersey!'" Hanel said. "I really played it up. But he played along. He said, 'I already told [Bryant] you want his firstborn named after you.'"
Wilkes took the ball to a Major League Baseball official for authentication, then took it to the Cubs' clubhouse. As Bryant spoke to reporters after the game, the ball was already sitting on a shelf in his locker.
Whether a milestone home run or not, Hanel has a routine for the baseballs that find their way into the Brewers' bullpen. He subtly pockets the ball, grabs a decoy from his equipment bag, and tosses it up into the stands for a fan. Then he puts the ball in an empty cup, straps tape across the top, labels the owner, and has each ball authenticated.
As for Kris Bryant and the ball he hit out for his first homer?
"I'll just keep it. I'll put it somewhere in my room or something," Bryant said. "Those are always special, the first hit. You know I broke my bat on my first hit, so I've got to keep my bat, too. It'll be on the mantel somewhere." (McCalvy - mlb.com - 5/10/2015)
If you think Kris Bryant likes Wrigley Field, then you should see his other friendly confines. Kris resides in a lofty place high above Wacker Drive and the Chicago River in downtown Chicago, and when Bryant is home, he can seemingly see forever. Bryant gazes through floor-to-ceiling windows at the Willis Tower, Trump Tower, and Lake Michigan, taking in the sweeping cityscape views. There is even a rooftop oasis fitting for a Cub, a place to grill, lounge in private cabanas and hang out with friends.
"This is definitely downtown living, which I'd never experienced before, but I'm liking so far," Bryant said on a perfect day in his luxury apartment. "I'm glad I chose to stay down here—especially on a day like this. Summer days here, I hear, are pretty good. Coming out here and relaxing and taking it all in and seeing all these buildings, it's a pretty cool place to live."
Watch the new Coldwell Banker Home Field Advantage video, and you can see how cool it is from Bryant's perspective during homestands.
"For me, home is ... a way to get away from the outside world and just relax and watch TV and eat some good food and just hang out with friends and family," Bryant said. "It's definitely a time that I treasure and something that I look forward to each day.
"When I signed, I got a little taste of Chicago. I had never been here before that. It's kind of hard to prepare for. It's a lot bigger city than I'd been to. I've seen all the food places. There's a steakhouse on every corner down here. Just being close to the food, and just getting the experience of living downtown, I've never really got to experience that before."
What a scene as Bryant sits on a sofa in a corner of his apartment: Looking through glass at iconic skyscrapers everywhere around him, and looking through glass on the coffee table in front of him to gaze at another treasured item. This one is a dirty game-used base from that unforgettable April 17, when he was called up for his debut against San Diego.
"I don't know what base this is, but it's a base from my Major League debut," Bryant said. "It's just a cool memento, I think, to have and to keep and to cherish. It's a memory I'll have forever. Right now it's on my table here, and I get to see it every day."
Other memorabilia on display in the apartment includes two side-by-side baseballs that he struck for the first two homers of his Major League career. One was from the May 9 game at Milwaukee, his first career blast. The other was off Jacob deGrom of the Mets, the first official ball hit into the refurbished bleachers at Wrigley. The fan who gave that ball back to the club can watch the video and see its ultimate resting place. "Definitely a special one for me," Bryant said, "just hitting the first one at home, getting the first two out of the way and continuing on with my career."
It continues on with warm welcomes every day from neighbors around Chicago. "The people are awesome," Bryant said. "You love walking the streets down here. It seems like everybody down here is a Cubs fan. I'm walking around downtown and seeing Cubs hats everywhere, Cubs sweatshirts, and I'm like, 'Well, I don't know if they're going to know who I am or not,' but if they do, it's always been good luck and welcome—it's been really fun for me.
"I think it's the best place to play." (Newman - mlb.com - 5/19/2015)
2015 All-Star Game: Cubs rookie Kris Bryant was named as a replacement for Giancarlo Stanton of Miami, who was injured.
Mike Bryant's bucket list includes playing golf in Hawaii, fishing for rainbow trout in some place like Montana, sitting in with the Grateful Dead and pitching to his son, Kris, in a home run hitting contest.
On July 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Mike Bryant checked one item off that list. Kris Bryant was one of two Cubs named to the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby, and he will join teammate Anthony Rizzo in the event at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
"This is just frosting on the cake that he's in the Home Run Derby and I'm able to pitch to him," Mike Bryant said. "I'll take the chocolate, with the cake being that Kris made the All-Star team."
Bryant was selected by National League manager Bruce Bochy to play in the All-Star Game. Then the rookie found out about the Home Run Derby, and he immediately called his dad.
"I told him two years ago, I said, 'Hey, if you ever make it to the big leagues and get in the Home Run Derby, I want to pitch to you,'" Mike Bryant said.
The elder Bryant was an outfielder in the Red Sox's Minor League system but never made it to the big leagues. He did play in a band, so he's used to being on stage, although Bryant knew there'd be more people at Great American Ball Park than ever attended his concerts.
"I don't know how I'm going to react to that," Mike said. "I hope I don't clam up and can't throw a strike. I think I'll be able to collect myself. The last time I played in front of 50,000 people was like never. I played in front of 15,000 once and that didn't bother me."
If the Bryants win, Mike is hoping the first-place prize might be a truck. He's driving a 2007 Hyundai with 180,000 miles on it, so he could use a new set of wheels. Mike is also eager to get a photo of Pujols, Kris, and himself as a souvenir. "There will be a lot of smiling going on," Mike said.
His arm is ready. The elder Bryant estimates he throws between 300-400 pitches a day as a hitting instructor. "I'm really excited about this," Mike said. "I'm excited for Kris. He always rolls his eyes at me a little bit because I'm such a Type A personality and he's such a Type B. I won't embarrass him." (Muskat - mlb.com - 7/9/2015)
In 2015, Bryant was named Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year Award—becoming the first player to earn BA’s College Player of the Year (2013), Minor League Player of the Year (2014), and rookie awards in successive years.
November 9, 2015: Bryant's breakout rookie season was recognized by his peers, as the third baseman was honored with the Players Choice Award for the National League's Outstanding Rookie for 2015.
And on November 16, 2015, Kris was the unanimous winner of the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year—the big ROA, by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
December 17, 2015: Kris and Bryce Harper were honored with keys to the city of Las Vegas. The NL MVP Award winner and NL Rookie of the Year Award winner are both Las Vegas natives.
Rookie sensation Bryant and his girlfriend, Jessica Delp, are high school sweethearts. They've been together for years, to the point where they can finish each other's sentences.
Bryant and Jessica recorded "Frozen" Dubsmash with "Love Is An Open Door" and it is surprisingly spot-on. It's a duet built around the male vocal scamming a woman into a relationship that might not be the most natural choice, but who are we to disagree with Kris Bryant, who clearly knows a thing or two about "Frozen"? (C Landers - MLB.com -October 3, 2015)
December 2015: Bryant proposed to his high school sweetheart, Jessica Delp, his girlfriend of eight years.
On what prompted him to propose, Kris said, "I've been with her since I was a sophomore in high school. So I thought it was time. I'm a little more established, know what I want to do in my career and I thought it was the right time. Happy wife, happy life."
Kris doesn't drink. At least not yet. Someday, he will take a swig of champagne. It won't happen when he marries his Jessica. Instead, it may come in the Cubs' clubhouse after they win the World Series.
January 8, 2017: Kris and Jessica Delp were married.
In the spring of 2015, Joe Maddon told Kris how good he could be, and the Cubs' third baseman won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Then, in the spring of 2016, when they met for their annual pre-Spring Training talk, the discussion was more about their offseason adventures and Maddon's recreational vehicle.
Their relationship has grown, and that's vital to Bryant's—and any young player's—development. When Bryant arrived in spring camp in 2015, there was an overload of hype surrounding the Minor League Player of the Year.
"I told him how good I thought he was going to be and what's ahead for him and the different things to work on," Maddon said of their chat one year ago.
Little did Maddon know how good. The only disappointing element was that Bryant didn't break with the Cubs despite leading the Major Leagues in spring 2015 home runs.
"I was confident he would respond well," Maddon said about their talks last year. "We had some good conversations, me and him, in the office—very candid, frank, open, all of the above. I got a good feel from him. He was very self-confident. He was disappointed he was not starting with us but had the team goals in mind. He was straight up with me and looked me right in the eye balls [saying he belonged in big leagues] and I don't blame him," Maddon said. "When he got up here, he showed it was true."
He was 23, sitting down with a new manager, yet Bryant didn't mince words one year ago.
"I truly believed it," Bryant said about being ready for the big leagues. "I think it's important to have belief in yourself. If you don't believe you belong, you shouldn't be playing the game. There's so much to this game that will get you down. If I'm in here with the intent that you belong and you can compete with everybody, it only helps you and I think that really helped me in 2015."
Bryant did appreciate Maddon's honesty.
"It's kind of weird when you come into big league camp and it's your first manager," Bryant said of their talks. "I knew what type of manager Joe Maddon was just seeing him and he was really cool. They were weird conversations at first, but establishing that honesty and being real with one another only helped us throughout the year. He recognized when I wasn't going well and he pulled me into his office last year. Those 2015 Spring Training conversations really helped propel our relationship." (Muskat - MLB.com - 2/28/2016)
Bryant has endorsement deals with Adidas and Red Bull, and he launched his connection with Express Clothing. Does he like the exposure?
"I like it to a certain extent," he said. "You have to pick and choose what you think is good for you and what represents you, and I think all the stuff I've done so far kind of shows me as a person and my personality. I don't want to just do stuff to get out there. I've never been the type to seek the attention. I just want to be another guy here in the clubhouse. Some of the stuff is fun. I wear the Express, so it's nice to connect with them and do that. It should be a fun year." (Muskat - MLB.com - 3/3/2016)
March 2016: In a prank sponsored by Red Bull, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year was introduced to the Mesa Community College Baseball team as Roy Nabryt, a European transfer who manager Tony Cirelli described as a "big donkey"— eat your heart out Adam Dunn.
”He can help us," Cirelli told his Thunderbolts team. "Guys who are pitching are going to lose some innings. Guys who are hitting are going to lose at-bats. If he gets us to Omaha [for the College World Series] and we win another ring, no one’s going to be complaining.”
The Thunderbolts team watched "Nabryt" slug homer after homer in batting practice before quickly realizing, "That's Kris Bryant." (CSN Chicago - March 2016)
Bryant played with Bryce Harper while growing up in Las Vegas. They were teammates when Harper was 14 and Bryant 13 on the Southern Nevada Bulldogs. There was one game when Bryant pitched a one-hit complete game and Harper homered for the winning run. "He was 11 years old and throwing 80 mph off the mound. It was special to see that from a guy that young," Bryant said of Harper. "He's obviously younger than I am, but watching him play, I was amazed. I knew he'd be doing what he's doing at this level someday."
Harper has returned Bryant's compliments: "When we were younger, we used to call him 'Silk.' He was so smooth with everything he did. He played third, played short, played a little outfield when we were younger. He pitched, of course, and he always hit very well."
In an April 2016 pregame ceremony, Kris received the Players Choice Award as the 2015 NL Outstanding Rookie. Selected in a secret ballot of all National League players, Bryant received his Players Choice Award from teammate Jake Arrieta.
In 2015, Bryant hit 26 home runs and drove in 99 runs to set rookie records for the Cubs. His play also helped the Cubs reach the postseason and earned Bryant a spot on the NL All-Star team. (Stavenhagen - MLB.com - 4/17/2016)
Bryant is confident and he likes to have fun, but he's also polite, respectful and hesitant to draw attention to himself. He works hard and listens to is coaches. He's the humble player who calls his dad after most games.
He has no problem saying no to the things he doesn't want to do, but he embraces the opportunities that sound fun, confident in the belief that taking time away from the game to clear his head will ultimately make him a better player.
"I completely leave the game at the field—other than I'll probably call my dad and talk to him about it," Kris said. "After that, I'm done. I watch Neflix. We go out to dinner a lot, especially in Chicago. The food is awesome.
"I play a little guitar too. I just tinker around with some things, video games, that kind of thing." (Gary Cohen - Vine Line - May, 2016)
In 2016, Kris Bryant and David Ortiz, two superstar sluggers who jointly symbolize the transfer of power in Major League Baseball, were named the recipients of the 2016 Hank Aaron Awards as the most outstanding offensive performer in his respective league.
In 2016, Bryant won the NL Most Valuable Player Award. He's the fourth player in history to win the MVP a year after winning Rookie of the Year, joining Cal Ripken Jr., Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Howard.
Spring Training 2017: Kris is so trendy, some of the sons of his Cubs teammates are asking to get their hair cut like the reigning National League MVP. Bryant just laughs at the young copycats.
"Jake's [Arrieta] wife sent my wife the picture last night [of Arrieta's son, Cooper], and I said, 'That's so cool. 'A Kris Bryant, please.'" (Muskat - mlb.com 3/14/2017)
The Cubs will get their 2016 World Series rings on April 12, 2017, in a ceremony at Wrigley Field. Kris's father will be likely be there.
"My dad is fighting with me, saying he wants to wear it for a whole year straight," Bryant said of his ring. "I said, 'Dad, you can't do that. Hopefully, I can find you a replica.'" (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/14/2017)
When Kris got back to work on his swing in the offseason before 2017 spring training, his father, Mike, wanted him to remember how he was pitched to in the Minor Leagues, and that's what they worked on. His mother, Susie, was busy handling all the wedding gifts. They started hitting in the batting cage six weeks after the World Series ended. Kris said he wants to hit the ball to the opposite field more in 2017, which is something he did in 2014, when he belted 43 homers and won Minor League Player of the Year honors.
"We've always talked about it, but it was more or less a game plan to prepare for this season," Mike said of their offseason work. "Because his batting average was so high on inside fastballs, we thought they'd try to work on the outer half of the plate. We tried to perfect that swing."
Meanwhile, Kris's mom was dealing with all the gifts Cubs fans sent. On one day, 86 boxes were delivered to Kris's parents' home.
"One day, me and Kris were playing catch in the cul de sac," Mike said. "The UPS guy gets off the truck and he goes, 'Is that Kris Bryant?' I said, 'Yeah.' We were playing catch in the cul de sac like we used to."
And Kris' adjustments at the plate? "He's kind of focused on trying to be ready when they miss on the outer half," Mike said. "His success was a product of necessity because of the way they were pitching. In the Minors, that's all they did was stay away from him. They never pitched in to him. He learned to do damage in the Minor Leagues because they were pounding the outer half of the plate. I wanted to get him more familiar with it again."
Both Mike and Susie said all the success their son has had—winning the World Series, MVP Award—hasn't changed him. However, there is a minor issue at home. Mike wants to wear Kris's World Series ring when he gets it.
"I said, 'Kris, c'mon, bucket list—I just want to wear it for a year, that's all,'" Mike said, laughing.
Anthony Rizzo's father did send Mike a replica ring, although it's not a replica of the real World Series ring, since that design has been kept a secret. Mike and Susie will be at Wrigley Field for Opening Day April 10 and the ring ceremony on April 12. Kris may have to hide the ring. (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/26/2017)
It is true that Bryant does not smoke, drink, or use profanity.
The Cubs have been known to toast victories in their postgame "party room" at Wrigley Feld with shots of whiskey. A clubhouse attendant fills Bryant's shot glass with apple juice.
"Guys," Bryant told his teammates midway through the 2016 season, "let's win the World Series. And when we do, I'll have my first sip of alcohol.
As for the truth of what happened following Game 7, let Bryant explain.
"We win the World Series and ... " pausing for effect. "I still didn't do it. I didn't hold up my end of the bargain. It was such a big moment, but I just felt like i don't need to change who I am. I was the same person that got me to this point. So why do I have to be a different person after that? It just didn't make sense to me."
The charmed baseball life of Kris Bryant seems like an invention of nostalgia from the 1950s or 1960s. It seems especially fictitious in this cynical age when incivility, vulgarity and self-promotion usually win the shouting contest for media coverage. And when the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, is dismissed as too "boring," not controversial enough, to be a crossover star. (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 3/27/2017)
April 28, 2017: Kris had taken batting practice one time at Fenway Park when he was a collegian and playing in the Cape Cod League, but he didn't clear the Green Monster during that visit.
"We had a practice here in college and I didn't hit one out," Kris said before the game against the Red Sox. "Hopefully I can change the tide."
Bryant did just that in the first inning of the 5-4 loss to the Sox. He launched his third home run of the season, sending an 0-1 pitch from the Red Sox's Drew Pomeranz over the Monster.
"Bryant's a good hitter, (he) just reacted, got it out of here," Pomeranz said of the dinger that according to Statcast had an exit velocity of 106.8 mph and traveled 449 feet. It was the fifth-longest home run at Fenway Park in the Statcast Era.
As Bryant crossed home plate, he saw his dad and pointed to the stands. "That's probably the only time I've ever actually seen my family in the stands," Bryant said. "I was like, 'Oh, there he is. Proud dad.'"
It wasn't that Mike Bryant was the only one wearing Cubs blue in the crowd of 37,054, but he had an aisle seat and was jumping up and down in the aisle.
"It was probably one of my favorite home runs, considering my family is from this area and my dad [was drafted by the Red Sox] and all that," Bryant said. "It felt really good." (C Muskat - MLB.com - April 29, 2017)
2017: Bryant and Jake Arrieta appeared in the season finale on the TV show Chicago Fire.
"When we were younger, we used to call him 'Silk,'" the Nats' Bryce Harper said before the two played against each other for the first time in the Majors in May 2017. "He was so smooth with everything he did. He played third, played short, played a little outfield when we were younger. He pitched, of course, and he always hit very well." (Gardner - mlb.com - 6/28/2017)
Bryant revealed that if baseball didn't work out, he would want to be a dentist. "I always enjoyed teeth, Kris said. "I don't know why. I brush my teeth a lot." (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 3/27/2017)
Jason Loutsch is a huge Cubs fan, so when it came time to name the dark bay colt his Albaugh Family Stable bought at the Keeneland Sales in September 2016, he decided to combine the names of his two favorite players, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. It turns out, "Bryzzo" is a winner.
On November 17 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, the 2-year-old Bryzzo won his second race, which was a "nice surprise," said Loutsch, the managing general partner at Albaugh Family Stable. What also was a surprise to Loutsch is that the name they concocted is the same as the Bryzzo ad campaign created by Major League Baseball.
"We have a tough time coming up with names," Loutsch said. "We try to name them after family members or an event or people we like who are famous. I'm a diehard Cubs fan and we won the World Series, obviously, so I thought it would be great to name him after my two favorite Cubs." (Carrie Muskat -MLB.com -November 27, 2017)
Kris feels good in the spring of 2018. He's getting to know his new teammates, enjoying drills with new infield coach Brian Butterfield, and learning about the business side of the game.
Bryant is the Cubs' player representative for the 2018 season after serving as the assistant to Jake Arrieta in 2017. The player rep serves on the Major League Baseball Players Association executive board and is responsible for meeting regularly with the players on his team. It's Bryant's job to represent his teammates in the resolution of any problems at the club level.
"Watching some of the events of the offseason, I feel I owe it to myself, because a lot of this will affect me and people my age, and I want to have all the information I can for down the road," Bryant said. "I learned a lot this offseason and hope to learn more."
He has gone to MLBPA meetings in Arizona, and it's been an education. "There's everything you do on the field, but there's a whole [other] side to this game, and it's the business side, and it affects us and affects how people play on the field," Bryant said. "If I can find a way to learn more about that and enjoy that part of it, too, it will be free and easy on the field."
"I think the earlier I can start learning about it, it will set me up better later on, so I can speak on things and be more educated," Bryant said. "I won't have to say, 'I don't know,' to some questions." (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/8/2018)
Dec 12, 2018: Kris Bryant made his way through the MLB Winter Meetings in Mandalay Bay, took an elevator to the upper tier of the Delano Hotel and swung by the Cubs' suite. The visit was planned, but it was more about the team checking in on Bryant's offseason than Bryant asking about the team's roster plans. One thing Bryant did not need to ask about was superstar free agent Bryce Harper. It is no secret that Bryant and Harper -- who both live in Las Vegas -- are close friends. If the Cubs' third baseman wants to know the latest on Harper's free-agency tour, he can just fire off a text or ask the next time they're taking in a Golden Knights hockey game.
"He's got a pretty direct source," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer quipped.
While Harper would immediately impact Chicago's offense, the club is not expected to be at the forefront of the pursuit of the free agent due to its current payroll restraints. If the Cubs can trade a hefty contract to free up funds, it would become a different story. As things currently stand, the club is focused on improving the lineup from within. Bryant plays a large role in that equation after a left shoulder injury sapped his slugging percentage last summer.
Beyond chatting with Bryant, the Cubs' brass also continued dialogue with agents and rival teams about free-agent and trade concepts. Hoyer noted, however, that the team was unlikely to leave Las Vegas with any transactions across the finish line. Standing atop a large black equipment box on Wednesday afternoon, agent Scott Boras loomed over a massive crowd of media in front of a Christmas tree. Boras offered a "happy holidays" to reporters and then embarked on a 56-minute discourse with Harper as the focal point. Boras, who also represents Bryant, noted that the Cubs' star is more than on the mend.
"He's fine. He looks great," Boras said. "I just saw him. He's in great shape."
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein recently noted that Bryant is "progressing without limitations" and will follow his usual routine of ramping up his hitting program in January. If Bryant arrives to Spring Training with no lingering effects from last season's shoulder issue—one that required two trips to the disabled list—the Cubs' lineup will appear more potent by default. During the 2018 campaign, Bryant posted a 125 wRC+ overall—indicating that he was 25 percent above league average offensively—but it was a tale of two seasons for the slugger.
Bryant posted a .524 slugging percentage through May 31 and saw that rate plummet to .400 from June 1 through the remainder of the regular season. His hard-hit rate (95-mph exit velocity or higher) was 27 percent after June 1, compared to 39 percent over the first two months, per Statcast™. Bryant also had the highest pulled ground-ball rate (69.3 percent) among the 176 right-handed hitters with at least 75 grounders. The Cubs are optimistic that Bryant's offseason regimen will put the shoulder problems in the rearview mirror.
"He's working out close by here at UNLV, so we invited him in," Hoyer said. "It's good to see him. He looks great. He looks like he's focused. I think all the players we've talked to this winter, I think there's an added motivation when you had that extra month off that you didn't want to have off. I think he's excited and ready to go."
There is also the backdrop of the 26-year-old Bryant being eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason, following a $10.85 million salary that set a first-year arbitration record last winter. Last month, a report surfaced that the Cubs—in need of creativity in order to add a significant contract—would be open to trading Bryant under the right circumstances. Epstein has since clarified where things stand on that front publicly, and he has also talked to Bryant about the rumors.
"He wasn't concerned about it, but it's always good to hear," Epstein said. "I think our only relevant thinking there is probably what led to the report anyway, which I think I was asked a question: Do we have any untouchables? And the answer is no. There are enough limitations anyway in trying to get better. You don't want to impose an artificial one on yourself.
"I think in the same breath there, I said there are some players who are so talented, so well-rounded, so impactful, when you look at what they can do, their performance on the field and their impact on the franchise more broadly, that it's virtually impossible to find a match." (J Bastian - MLB.com - December 12, 2018)
March 19, 2019: Bryant makes a lot of hard things look easy. He hits mammoth home runs off some of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, he won an NL MVP at the age of 24, heck, he brought a World Series to a team that hadn't won one in more than 100 years. But, if you happened to be watching his Instagram story, you saw that, yes, even Kristopher Lee Bryant has one flaw: Dunking. He just couldn't do it.
Finally, though, after many exhaustive attempts and jokes at his expense and pep talks into the camera, he did it.
Learn from Kris Bryant, failing humans. Go out and conquer the world. Don't let a few unfortunate attempts get you down. As a now-probably-broken-up, mid-90s band once said, you are your own worst enemy. (CUT4 - March 19, 2019)
March 19, 2019: Bryant makes a lot of hard things look easy. He hits mammoth home runs off some of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, he won an NL MVP at the age of 24, heck, he brought a World Series to a team that hadn't won one in more than 100 years. But, if you happened to be watching his Instagram story, you saw that, yes, even Kristopher Lee Bryant has one flaw: Dunking. He just couldn't do it.
Finally, though, after many exhaustive attempts and jokes at his expense and pep talks into the camera, he did it.
Learn from Kris Bryant, failing humans. Go out and conquer the world. Don't let a few unfortunate attempts get you down. As a now-probably-broken-up, mid-90s band once said, you are your own worst enemy. (CUT4 - March 19, 2019)
The clip played on a TV inside the Cubs' clubhouse in the hours before May 9, 2019's game against the Marlins. When it came on, Albert Almora Jr. got Kris's attention, so he could watch the footage of his first career home run from four years ago in Milwaukee.
The blast disappeared over the wall in center field at Miller Park, and Bryant returned to an empty dugout. He ran into the tunnel, where his team was waiting to celebrate his initial Major League power display. Prior to the 4-1 win over the Marlins, Bryant got a kick out of seeing some of the old teammates and coaches who appeared in the video from 113 home runs ago.
"I was just impressed with who was on the team. It's kind of funny," Bryant said with a laugh after the game. "It's just crazy how quick this game goes by. You're always caught up in the moment of the teammates here and now, and you forget about all the guys you've played with in the past and how much fun it's been. It just goes by so quick, so it's really important to kind of sit back and appreciate it once in a while."
Bryant said. "[This Cubs team] has never been just one or two guys. It's been a collective effort. All of our success since I've been here, it's never just been one standout guy. So that's kind of what makes this team what we are. And that's fun to be a part of." (Bastian - mlb.com - 5/10/2019)
July 2019: Bryant represented the Cubs at the All-Star Game.
Oct 11, 2019: On the final weekend of the regular season, Kris Bryant leaned against an elevated bench in the visitors' dugout at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals were closing in on the National League Central crown that the Cubs coveted and Bryant was rendered a spectator due to injury.
As the clock ticked down to the end of the season, Bryant said it was important to soak in the final few moments with his 2019 teammates. Coming off a solid comeback season personally, the 27-year-old understood that the Cubs' front office would be taking a close look at the roster and plotting potential changes for next season and beyond.
"I think it's like that every year. You really want to enjoy the last few days," Bryant said. "It's just emotional at the end of each year, because you know the team is never going to be the exact same the next year. Guys are going to go their own way. Guys are going to retire. ... You form bonds with these guys."
Bryant -- a first-round pick in 2013, Rookie of the Year in '15 and MVP in '16 -- is a key part of a Cubs core that has four postseason appearances and one historic parade over the past five years. This winter, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein will be examining that core with the mindset that the franchise needs to look forward rather than focusing on past success.
"Coming back from last year, yes, there is plenty to be proud of for me," Bryant said. "But, there's always going to be things that I want to do better. That's how I'm always going to answer that question, whether it's an MVP year or the worst year in my career. I'm always going to say I want to be better until I'm done playing this game." (J Bastian - MLB.com - Oct 11, 2019)
March 6, 2020: The Cubs' trip to Las Vegas could not have come at a better time for Kris Bryant. Not only will the trek west allow Bryant the chance to be home for a few days, but he will be able to join his pregnant wife at a doctor's appointment.
"It worked out perfect," Bryant said.
The Bryants are expecting a son at some point in April and the upcoming addition has helped the Cubs' star third baseman keep all the noise that has surrounded him over the offseason and this spring in perspective. For Bryant, becoming a dad is far more important than any trade rumors that might be floating out there.
"This stuff doesn't matter," said Bryant, who pointed to the bat in his hand. "I mean, it does. Of course you want to win and I'm always going to play as hard as I can, but I watch everybody else and how they bring their kids in after the games and stuff. It's hard not to picture that."
The Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and his wife Jessica announced on social media the birth of their new son, Kyler Lee Bryant.
Kyler was born on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. It is the first child for the couple, who grew up in Las Vegas, dated since their freshman year of high school and were married Jan. 7, 2017.
“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said Feb. 28 during an in-game interview during Spring Training on the Marquee Network. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”
In November, they announced the pregnancy in a video posted on their Instagram accounts.
The Cubs took birth announcements to the next level for Kris Bryant's newborn, Kyler Lee.
The Cubs gave Bryant's son, born April 7, a special shoutout on Wrigley Field's historic marquee this week.The marguee read "Kyler Lee Bryant April 7, 2020". (Tim Stebbins - April 19, 2020)
May 2020: We know Kris Bryant is keeping his hitting stroke sharp for when — or if — Major League Baseball starts the 2020 season, a plan for which is being discussed among league officials, team owners and the players union.
In his free time, the Cubs slugger is working on his race car skills.
Bryant is participating in Red Bull Homestretch, a 10-driver virtual race on video game “Gran Turismo Sport.” He will compete against Rams quarterback Jared Goff and eight professional drivers from multiple disciplines at 11 a.m. Thursday (May 14).
The race will be shown live on Red Bull’s Twitch channel. Bryant endorses the energy drink.
July 6, 2020: Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant would have preferred to be playing this baseball season under normal circumstances, but there was a personal blessing that emerged from the sports world's pause in March due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Bryant was able to be home for the birth of his son in April, and then he had three months to soak in every moment of being a new dad. "It was so good to be home," Bryant said. "I know there's a lot going on in the world and people being sick. I'm super thankful that my family was able to stay healthy. The baby's healthy. My wife's healthy. And it's just awesome to see how much they change early on, too. I mean, he came out a big chunkster, and now he's like tall and lanky like me."
Bryant's growing family is also why he is still dealing with a daily dose of uneasiness. In these early days of Summer Camp at Wrigley Field, Bryant has been keeping his distance from teammates. He can often be spotted sitting on one of the side brick walls, rather than in the dugout. He has even donned a mask while on the field taking grounders. Bryant wants to lead by example as baseball attempts to make this season work, but he also is worried about bringing something home.
Bryant noted that he had a discussion on Sunday with Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, who has been open about his 30-day battle with COVID-19 during baseball's intermission. Hottovy is 38 years old, in good shape, took precautions and still contracted the virus. The coach is recovered now and negative for coronavirus, but his story serves as a warning to people around the team and in baseball.
"I go home every day and I just think, 'What if I were to get it and bring it home?'" Bryant said. "That'd be awful for me, or if my wife got it taking care of the baby. There's just so [many] things that could go wrong. And I'm just really trying to do my best to stay positive with this whole thing and get through this year healthy, as is everybody."
Bryant was asked if electing not to participate was still a consideration for him.
"No, I mean, can you imagine me opting out?" he said. "I just couldn't do that. I'm going to do everything I can to be safe and healthy and lead by example and encourage people to do the right thing, but there's a baseball season and I want to be out there."
Cubs manager David Ross has said that he hopes Wrigley Field feels like a "safe haven" for players right now, as they deal with anxiety and stress. In recent days, Ross said his players began expressing that there was actually a growing sense of fear, given the way the COVID-19 testing has been handled early on.
Both Bryant and Albert Almora Jr., for example, noted in Zoom calls with reporters that they were tested on June 30 and then not again until Sunday. While the Cubs have not had any positive tests to date in camp, lefty Kyle Ryan has yet to report due to a "process-based" delay, according to the team. The Cardinals, Nationals and Astros canceled their Monday workouts due to delays in getting test results back.
"I think if we really want this to succeed, we're going to have to figure that out," Bryant said. "I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would feel comfortable, but honestly, I don't really feel that."
Ross said he was "bothered" by the situation and personally reached out to MLB, but he was assured things would improve as all parties involved get accustomed to the protocols and procedures.
Not long after Ross gave that feedback to Chicago media, Major League Baseball issued a statement and noted that 95 percent of the tests under the intake screening period have been conducted and shared with teams. The outstanding tests were expected to be completed Monday, with the every-other-day testing phase set to begin.
"We're doing our best," Almora said. "I know the league's doing their best, as hard as it is with the testing. There's been some setbacks. They've never been through this, like we haven't. So I don't know. It's uncomfortable."
Bryant made it clear that he did not want any complaints about the frequency of tests to come off as insensitive, given some of the issues the general public has endured in the past several months. For the same reasons, Bryant felt it was inappropriate to complain at all about the protocols that will force players to alter behavior in the dugouts or on the field.
"We all want this thing to work," Bryant said. "And if we have to do an air high-five or find a different way to get a different grip on the ball, I think we can all figure that out."
Bryant also said that fatherhood, combined with the other issues facing the country and globe right now, have given him a different perspective on his own future.
Bryant is currently on target for free agency after the 2021 season, which has increasingly fueled trade speculation. With the Trade Deadline moved to Aug. 31, 2020, Bryant said he hopes he "wouldn't be shipped out in the middle of a pandemic," and reiterated how much he loves playing for the Cubs and would be open to discussing a long-term deal.
"If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't," Bryant said. "I'm happy with where I'm at. I love this organization. I love everybody [who is] a part of it. Like I said, I'm up to hearing what they have to say, but there's a lot more other worries in my life and the world right now.
"I feel like it's a little insensitive to be talking about big dollars and stuff like that when people are losing their jobs and their lives and stuff like that. I've never been the type to be super selfish and want the attention on me to sign a contract or whatever. I think there's bigger problems right now." (J Bastian - MLB.com - July 6, 2020)
2020 Season: Umm... not great. Awful in fact. Everyone, including fans and Kris Bryant himself should probably just try to forget it.
Bryant was a complete disaster at the plate (.206/.293/.351, 145 ISO, 76 wRC+) during the 34 games he was actually able to take the field. There is obvious small sample size caveats, especially considering his health issues, but his timing and bat speed at the plate were miles away from what we've come to expect from KB. The 2020 season was difficult on many stars across MLB, but it was worse on KB than most.
About the only positive to pull from last season was his work playing the hot corner. His defense had been bordering on becoming an issue the previous two years, but his time on the diamond in 2020 did give some hope that he could stick at 3B for at least a couple more seasons. He also looked a bit more athletic on the basepaths than he had throughout 2018-19.
Contract Status: Arbitration eligible (Year 4 of 4), estimated salary $18.6M
Kris Bryant has been at the top of the arbitration scale since he qualified as a Super Two (meaning he received a fourth year of salary arbitration rather than the standard three). His immediate success as a star from his Rookie of the Year season, progressing into an MVP award in his second, meant Bryant was setting salary records throughout his early arbitration years.
Now, with the pandemic expected to impact salaries, and injuries shortening (and affecting production) in two of Bryant's previous three campaigns, it appears we've reached the point where his arbitration salary will no longer increase. Bryant agreed to an $18.6M deal last offseason and MLBTR is projecting the same salary for him in 2021.
I admit to being slightly surprised. Arbitration figures tend to wildly favor MLB teams in most instances (even when cases go to a hearing and the player wins his argument), and only rarely do they end up being a risky figure for a ballclub. Had Kris Bryant's final arb salary come in above $25M (or even 20M) which it had long been projected, it could have proved a difficult decision on whether to even tender him a contract. But under $19M? It is a reasonable amount, which splits the risk down the middle. If Bryant returns to his 5 fWAR form of 2019 it is a bargain for the Cubs. If Bryant repeats his injury plagued 2018 or 2020 outputs, it favors him.
His salary is also nearly identical to the 2020 Qualifying Offer ($18.9M) for MLB free agents which teams must offer in order to receive draft pick compensation should the player sign elsewhere. With revenues expected to be greatly depressed in 2021, I would expect the 2021 QO figure to remain right around 19M when Bryant hits free agency next offseason. I bring it up because if the team feels his level of play in 2021 matches or exceeds his level of pay it becomes an easy decision to qualify him. But if health or performance keep him from performing again, then it becomes an easy decision not to offer it.
As for a long term deal this offseason? I just can't envision it.
It doesn't benefit Bryant to work out a deal when his value is at an all-time low and he is so close to UFA. It also doesn't make sense for the Cubs to make a risky, high dollar offer when their revenues are tanking. There are simply far too many variables at work right now. If Bryant is not traded this offseason it would seem to be in the best interests of both sides for Bryant to play out 2021 to see if it can simplify the equation one way or the other. Then try to work out a new deal next offseason. It is rare but free agents do re-sign on the open market. (Michael Ernst - Oct. 25, 2020)
April 3, 2021: After Kris launched his first home run of the 2021 season, the Cubs' third baseman pointed into the crowd. Bryant was motioning in the direction of his son, Kyler, who will turn one later in April. "First time hitting a homer with him in the stands," Bryant said. "Pretty cool. He probably doesn't know what's going on yet, but he got a foul ball [during the game], which is pretty cool. Right to the mouth. He didn't get hit in the mouth, but he grabbed it and put it right in the mouth, like they do with everything." (Bastian - mlb.com - 4/4/2021)
July 2021: Bryant was chosen to represent the Cubs in the All-Star Game.
Sept 10, 2021:Teary-eyed Bryant returns 'home' to Wrigley. Kris Bryant doesn't consider himself to be very good at soaking in moments, but as the Giants arrived on the North Side of Chicago, he told himself he would try to take in every moment he could over the weekend.
It's been six weeks since Bryant was traded from the Cubs to the Giants. As soon as he was dealt, Bryant looked at San Francisco's schedule, saw an upcoming series at Wrigley Field and circled it on his calendar.
Though the Giants are in the middle of a division title race in the National League West, this series might've been the one Bryant was looking forward to most.
"I think it'll be really fun. I'm excited," Bryant said earlier. "I've gotten a lot of texts from some of the staff and the people there. They're excited. ... It will be kind of nice to get there and close the chapter of the book and hopefully have a great series."
Bryant pretty much knew what to expect from fans of his former team when he made his return to Chicago before a 6-1 win on Friday. He said that after seeing the reception former teammates got upon their own returns to Wrigley Field, he could sense something similar would be in store for him.And since he sensed a warm reception, that desire to do better at soaking in the moments became even more important for him.
It started by visiting some of his favorite places around Wrigleyville during the Giants' off-day on Thursday, including a building not far from the ballpark that has his mural on the side. Then, as he arrived at the visitor's entrance to Wrigley Field, a crowd was already waiting to see him.
"I didn't picture that many people would be waiting out there. It was really special," Bryant said. "Kind of reminded me of when we got home at 6 in the morning when we won the World Series and there were so many people waiting for us. You expected some people, but not that many."
None of that soaking in of moments, however, could've fully prepared him for the emotions he'd feel as he stepped out onto the field for the first time.
Before the start of the series opener, the Cubs played a tribute video to Bryant, who won the 2016 NL MVP Award en route to helping Chicago end its 108-year-old World Series title drought that season. Images of his playing days, of him walking through the Cubs' clubhouse and of him getting showered with Gatorade after various wins filled the screen, and Bryant could be seen wiping away tears before heading out to a standing ovation.
"It was kind of hard to play a baseball game after that, for sure," Bryant said, "but I really appreciated it. When I first started my career here, I don't know if I could've ever dreamed of having that type of reception and the fans welcoming me back like that. Definitely something that is one of the highlights of my career so far." "I thought the video was phenomenal, very well done, captured some really important moments in Kris' career," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. "Obviously, the fans here in Chicago seem to mean a lot to Kris. It was cool to see all of his teammates kind of on the top step, participating in that. You know, the best in the business involve everybody, and you could see Kris making sure that everybody was a part of that moment."
Bryant eventually got his first at-bat as a visitor at the park in the first inning. But unlike most visitors who come to the plate, Bryant's old walk-up song -- "Warm it Up" by Kris Kross -- was played over the PA system while the crowd gifted him another loud ovation.
Bryant said that returning to Chicago felt like he was coming home, and those at Wrigley treated it as such.
"This place is home to me. It always will be," Bryant said. "I know my way around here. Anytime I'm in here, I'll always feel like it is home."
Bryant's future beyond 2021 is still uncertain. He said he hasn't closed the door on signing an extension with the Giants, and he hasn't closed the door on returning to the Cubs, either.But that isn't what this weekend is about for Bryant. This weekend, his first time playing at Wrigley Field in a uniform that isn't the Cubs', is about soaking in the moments, those he created along the way in Chicago and those yet to be made.
Bryant was excited to return to Wrigley Field, and the fans that cheered him on for so many years surely gave him a moment he'll never forget.
"If you were to tell me when I got drafted that I would spend 6 1/2 years here, win a World Series and an MVP and Rookie of the Year, [go to] four All-Star games and [make] tons of great memories, I'd tell you, 'You're crazy. Is that really gonna happen to me?'" Bryant said. "And now I'm sitting here today and that actually did happen to me, for such an organization like the Chicago Cubs, playing at Wrigley Field every single day. That's amazing." (R Herrera - MLB.com - Sept 10, 2021)
June 6, 2013: The Cubs chose Bryant in the first round, the second pick overall, behind only pitcher Mark Appel to the Astros. He signed on July 11, the day before the deadline, for a bonus of $6.7 million.
"[My dad] has taught me what Ted Williams taught him," Kris said. "It's been awesome to have him as a dad. He's taught me how to go about my journey and avoid potholes that I stepped in. He's been a great resource."
"For me, it's been incredibly satisfying, because to watch his talent grow, you knew he had a shot [at a pro contract], but we never made that the focus," Kris's father, Mike Bryant said. "We looked at baseball as the opportunity to deliver an education."
The emotions of the day were too much for Bryant's mother, Susie, who cried at the news conference at Wrigley. She was born in Chicago and still has family in the suburbs. No, they haven't started asking for Cubs tickets.
Did Kris always want to be a Major League ballplayer?
"No, he wanted to be a dentist," Susie said. (Carrie Muskat-MLB.com-7/12/2013)
March 4, 2016: The Cubs and Bryant agreed to a one-year deal at $652,000.
March 9, 2017: The Cubs announced that they have agreed to contract terms with Kris, who reportedly signed a $1.05 million contract for 2017, setting a record deal for a second-year player.
January 11, 2019: Bryant and the Cubs avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year contract for $12.9 million.
Jan 10, 2020: The Cubs avoided arbitration with star third baseman Kris Bryant, reaching an agreement on a one-year, $18.6 million contract,
Jan 15, 2020: The Cubs avoided arbitration with Bryant, reaching an agreement on a one-year, $18.6 million contract,
- July 30, 2021: The Cubs traded LF Kris Bryant to the Giants for CF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Kilian.
Bryant has an easy, powerful stroke with impressive bat speed and excellent leverage. That righthanded power is his best tool. He has good natural loft and the swing to hit for a decent batting average.
Some scouts rate Kris's power as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. And they have his overall hitting tool at 60.
The beauty of his game is in his swing: From a low, wide stance, Bryant unfurls with a quiet whip, without a leg kick or a long follow-through. The impact of bat on ball sounds like a gunshot.
But it's his baseball intelligence that him apart, his ability to, as Joe Maddon puts it, "organize the strike zone." (2015)
The first key for Bryant to get his barrel to enter the hitting zone early. His back elbow stays connected to his rib cage—not getting far from his body—to create a shorter path to the ball. His back foot rolls slightly, which keeps his back hip from firing too soon.
Bryant wants his levers to fire sequentially in perfect timing: front hip, hands, back hip and, lastly, bat head finished off with tremendous extension through the ball with his long arms.
Every time Bryant swings, he tries to hit the bottom of the baseball, the key to creating the backspin tat explains why his fly balls carry more than other hitters'. There are two key angles to his swing: the angle at which his barrel drives up at the baseball—the "attack angle," which typically is 18 degrees for him—and the angle created by the barrel being lower than his hands, or his "vertical bat angle." (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 3/27/2017)
Kris's biggest as an amateur was spreading out and simplifying his swing, and while he has some holes, as most tall sluggers do, his approach and pitch recognition make him an above-average hitter with lethal all-fields power.
Bryant has a quiet set-up and approach, just a small simple load and then his bat just explodes through the zone.
You can't miss Bryant at the plate. He has a wide stance that seems to stretch beyond the batter's box. He used to stand more upright, but 10 games into his sophomore season in college, a hitting coach suggested he make a change.
"If I widened out and squatted down, the low pitch was easier to hit and my head stays still," Bryant said in October 2013. "It's really been working for me. I know there are some people who think I could do things differently, and I'm open to whatever anybody has to say to me. I've been doing it this way for a while, and I feel comfortable."
- Bryant does a reasonable job of controlling the strike zone. He is balanced and has really matured into a complete hitter. Swing-and-miss will likely always be a part of his game—like most power hitters.
His leveraged, upper-cut swing is designed to launch the ball in the air with plus power to all fields. In 2014 in the Southern League, half of his 22 homers went to either center field or right field. One scout said Bryant had the fastest bat in that league, which will enable him to hit for average even though he projects to strike out as much as a quarter of the time.
In 2014, Bryant led all minor leaguers with 19 opposite-field home runs, according to data collected by MLBfarm.com.
Bryant is one of those rare guys you can give an adjustment or concept between at-bats, and he’s going to go out and apply it, and hit a missile the very next time up.
While at the University of San Diego, assistant coach Jay Johnson suggested Kris widen his base in the batter’s box.
“That might have been the turning point in my career here, just widening out,” Bryant said. “Earlier I drifted into a lot of balls, and I think I’ve tapped into a lot more of my power by using my legs more. I really see the ball a whole lot better, my head’s not moving.”
With his long levers, Bryant used to be vulnerable against fastballs in on his hands. Now he can turn on quality fastballs and drive them out of the park.
Kris doesn't waste at-bats, even in batting practice. In three consecutive swings in batting practice before an AFL game in October 2013, he hit a home run to left, another to right, and another to center . . . and did so on purpose.
"I try to do that every once in a while," Bryant said, smiling. "Sometimes it works out, sometimes I hit the cage."
C'mon, baseball isn't that easy.
"I forgot who said it, but someone said if you want to hit home runs, you have to practice hitting home runs," Bryant said. "I took that to heart in high school and college. In batting practice, here and there, there will be a certain pitch when I'll tell myself, 'I'm going to try to hit this one over the fence.' I think that thought has helped me hit home runs in the game. It's worked for me."
Kris's dad was a hitting coach—still is a hitting coach, so he came in with a good approach, a good understanding of things. The power’s always been there, but now, there really are no major holes. He just makes the ballpark look small, one of those guys.
Bryant's dad, Mike, drilled Kris to be a hitter first. The power is important, but it can be saved for games. In batting practice, work on getting the timing down that will pay off in the extra single a slugger may miss.
“The biggest thing with Kris is, he competes every pitch,” Cubs hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce said. “He doesn’t waste pitches. He’s a grinder. He’s mentally exhausted after each game. It’s a mental at-bat every time.”
A plot of Bryant’s home runs looks like the spray from a sprinkler. They range from the foul pole in left field to the one in right, with few gaps left in between. The same disciplined approach Bryant uses in batting practice pays off in games; he is quite comfortable lining balls the other way.
“Pull power will translate into lower averages and home runs,” Iowa hitting coach Brian Harper said. “The thing about Kris is he has more power the other way. He doesn’t get into pull mode. That’s the destruction of many young power hitters.”
Iapoce says he has coached one other hitter with a similar combination of power, hitting ability and a grinder’s mentality: Giancarlo Stanton.
“You don’t see a guy like Bryant and Stanton do what they do in the minor leagues,” Iapoce said. “They pride themselves on being tough outs. When you pride yourself on being a tough out and you’re big and strong, it’s like hitting on a half field. Kris’s line drives go off the fence. Mis-hits can leave the yard.”
Bryant combines that all-fields strategy with a heady approach at the plate. As a 6-foot-5 hitter with long arms, he has holes in his plate coverage. But those holes aren’t static. A pitcher who gets him out one way is wise not to try the same thing again. (JJ Cooper - Baseball America - 9/26/2014)
2014 Minor League Home Run King: Bryant edged future Ranger Joey Gallo, 43-42, in the season-long home run derby, as the Minor League's regular season came to a close.
In 2014, Bryant was the unanimous choice as MLBPipeline.com's Hitting Prospect of the Year. He lead all of the Minor Leagues in home runs and slugging percentage. (Jonathon Mayo - MLB.com - 9/19/2014)
So, what does the top minor league hitter of 2014 do to make sure he’s ready to produce when he debuts?
He’ll listen to Ted Williams, of course. In this case, that comes in the form of Mike Bryant, Kris’s dad and a former Red Sox farmhand and one-time hitting student of Williams.
Mike, who teaches hitting at the hitting school/cage at their Las Vegas home, and Kris are spending a chunk of the offseason before 2015 spring training trying to approximate big league hitting conditions to build on what he did in the minors. Kris ordered the kind of pitching machine big league clubs use, with settings for curve balls and 90 mph sliders.
With this machine, you can definitely simulate an Adam Wainwright curveball if you figure out how it breaks, so I think there’s definitely ways to practice it,” Kris said.
“He’s as advanced and mature a professional prospect as we’ve had,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said. “It just looks like nothing flusters him. He is a thoughtful, cerebral, mature guy, and I think if anyone can jump into the big league picture in the middle of the season and not miss a beat it’s Kris Bryant.” (Gordon Wittenmyer - Baseball America - 11/21/2014)
September 22, 2015: Bryant's 26th home run of the season broke Billy Williams' club rookie record for the most in a single season, set in 1961. He also homered in both of the Cubs' postseason series.
What truly separates Bryant from most of the other premier hitters in baseball is that he has an almost preternatural calm about him. Teammates rave about his ability to never get too high or too low, which allows Kris to easily shrug off the occasional 0-for-4. The mental game is so huge in baseball, and Kris is very strong-minded at the plate.
June 28, 2016: Bryant became the first player in recorded Major League history to hit three homers and two doubles in a game. He also set a Cubs franchise record for total bases, 16, in the process.
2017: Bryant holds the Cubs Statcast team mark, with home runs measured at 495 and 477 feet.
August 31, 2017: Kris is the first player in Cubs franchise history and the 12th in the Majors to hit 25 or more home runs in each of his first three seasons.
"It's pretty crazy when you think of the history of this organization, to be the first to do that -- it's really cool, an honor and very humbling," Bryant said.
May 9, 2018: Bryant became the fastest player in Cubs history to reach the 100-home run mark, needing just 487 games to do so. Ernie Banks, who hit his 100th home run in 1957, did so in his 500th game, while fellow Hall of Famer Billy Williams connected on his 100th homer in 1964 in his 611th game of his career.
August 25, 2018: Kris believes he will have more power in his swing when he returns from his left shoulder injury.
Bryant took batting practice on the field, showing off his new two-handed finish to his swing that he believes will create more power.
May 18, 2019: Bryant became the 12th player, according to STATS, to homer in three consecutive innings.
May 21, 2020: Do you know your favorite team's best individual single-game hitting performance? From Hall of Famers to players who otherwise had obscure careers, there's a diverse list in that category. With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's the best game any one batter has had for each club.
CUBS: Kris Bryant -- June 27, 2016 at Reds
Before getting into Bryant’s performance, let’s note that arguably the most famous individual performance has become known as "The Ryne Sandberg Game." On June 23, 1984, the Hall of Fame second baseman had five hits, seven RBIs and a pair of late, game-tying homers off Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter. That set up a 12-11 walk-off victory over the rival Cardinals -- a win that will forever be a part of Cubs lore.
For this, however, the nod goes to Bryant for the incredible one-man wrecking crew performance he posted against the Reds during an NL MVP campaign that ended with a World Series parade. In an 11-8 win on the road in Cincinnati, Bryant churned out five hits, including two doubles and three homers, scored four runs and collected six RBIs along the way. Two of his hits gave Chicago the lead and two others helped spread the game open. It is the only time in Cubs history a player has amassed at least 16 total bases in a game. There have only been 23 such games in recorded MLB history, tracing back to 1904, with greats like Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt on that list.
Bryant’s showing is also just one of two instances since 1904 in which an MLB player had two doubles and three home runs in the same game (St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter also achieved the feat on July 20, 2018, vs. the Cubs). -- Jordan Bastian
May 3, 2021: All-Star third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs has been chosen the National League Player of the Week.
Bryant earned his second career NL Player of the Week Award, previously winning on September 16, 2019, and is the first Cubs winner since Alec Mills last year following his no-hitter on September 13th. Bryant posted a slash line of .417/.500/1.042 with six runs scored, 10 hits, three doubles, four home runs, 10 RBI and four walks over six games played.
Connected for his sixth career grand slam on April 26th against the Atlanta Braves. Tied Javier Báez, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez for fifth-most in Club history. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks holds the franchise mark with 12 career grand slams.
In the thrilling game against the Cincinnati Reds, went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double, two homers and three RBI. Marked his second multi-homer performance of the season (also April 17th).
Enters play with 151 career home runs, 15th-most in franchise history and 13 behind Hall of Famer Andre Dawson for 14th on the list. (MLB.com - May 3, 2021)
- As of the start of the 2022 season, Kris had a career Major League batting average of .278 with 167 homers and 487 RBI in 3,287 at-bats.
Kris is better at first base than third base, mostly because of his big frame. But his bat will have to carry him because he is not a good defender anywhere, lacking range—he has some trouble moving laterally at third base. Bryant has good range to his left, but not as good going to his right.
He gets a 45—below average on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Kris also plays right field and left field, in addition to third base.
Bryant, at 6-feet-5, is tall and rangy, making it difficult to get small and stay in front of the ball. Though his actions are longer than those of a more compactly built player, Kris has diligently worked with coaches and instructors to stay mobile and agile at the hot corner. (Spring 2015)
Bryant is very athletic and loose for his size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds). And while he has good hands at the hot corner, a number of scouts wonder how well he’ll be able to stay down on balls and think he fits better as a long-striding corner outfielder in the Jayson Werth mold. He is an average runner under way who took good angles to balls in right field.
And Kris's strong arm is a plus asset in right field. He has a quick release. His arm gets a 60 on the 20-80 scale.
The question is whether Bryant will be a third baseman in the big leagues or a corner outfielder.
When you’re grading his fundamentals, his footwork, his glove, his release, everything is good. It’s just that it does speed up on him. He’s so long and rangy that, a ball that would normally be three steps to someone else’s left or right, he can just snare it. He’s better after a couple long strides, really good range to his left. And his arm is good at third base.
Kris's height means he has to spend extra work on agility and getting to balls to his backhand side.
“I definitely have to work on staying low to the ground more than the average third baseman,” Bryant said. “The backhand is a priority of mine to work on. I do have to go an extra six inches to get down to the ground to field the ball. It’s something I worked on all season.”
Playing third base is very important to Bryant. He wants to stay there. Scouts and managers who have seen him there range from seeing him as an adequate third baseman with an excellent arm to a potentially above-average one. Those same scouts do note that he would likely make an above-average outfielder.
- In 2017 for the Cubs, Bryant played 144 games at third base, 2 games at first base, and 11 games in the outfield. (Baseball-Reference.com - Feb. 2018)
- In 2018 for the Cubs, he played 87 games at third base, 14 games in left field, 15 games in right field, and 3 games at first base. (Baseball-Reference.com - Sept. 2019)
Kris lacks first-step speed. He is a below-average runner from home to first, but better than average once under way. Overall, he gets a 45 or a 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Bryant runs the bases intelligently.
- Kris always runs a ball out. Even on routine ground balls, he runs all-out.
June 28, 2017: Bryant rolled his ankle on the third base bag, was removed from the game, and missed a few games after that. But he avoided the D.L.
June 23-July 11, 2018: Bryant was on the DL with left shoulder inflammation.
July 24-September 1, 2018: Bryant was on the DL with left shoulder inflammation.
July 24, 2019: Bryant left the game against the Giants with right knee soreness, one plate appearance after hitting a key home run in Chicago's 4-1 victory. He walked under his own power as he left the Oracle Park visitor's clubhouse.
Sept 22, 2019: Bryant injured his right ankle after slipping on first base. Rizzo, who is dealing with a healing right ankle of his own, helped his teammate to his feet before letting two members of the Cubs' medical team complete the trek back to the home dugout.
"It's tough," Rizzo said. "I talked to him. He's feeling OK. Hopefully it's not too long, but it's just a tough series."
July 28, 2020: Bryant reported that he was experiencing soreness in his left elbow while extending on his swing.
"K.B.'s dealing with just a few little bumps and bruises," Ross said in a pregame Zoom discussion with reporters. "I just want to make sure we get on top of it immediately and it doesn't become a bigger issue."
Aug 20-Sept 1, 2020: Cubs manager David Ross emphasized earlier this week that having Kris Bryant back in the lineup was a goal, not a guarantee. As it turned out, the star third baseman was out of the mix for the opener against the White Sox. Bryant remains sidelined with a left wrist issue, following a medical injection on Tuesday. Ross noted that the third baseman would continue to receive treatment on Friday and test his hand with some swings. The manager would not commit to Bryant making his return to the field by Saturday.
"We're going to just wait and see," Ross reiterated prior to Friday's game. "I checked in with the trainer -- he's still progressing in the right direction. We'll see how things feel after treatment today and if he's able to hit in the cage or on the field. Just kind of taking it day to day from here on out."
Bryant initially injured the wrist (and his left ring finger) on a dive attempt as the Cubs' left fielder on Aug. 12 in Cleveland. Aug 19, 2020: Bryant was on the IL with left ring finger sprain.
Sept 21, 2020: Kris Bryant's campaign with the Cubs this year has been plagued by a series of injury setbacks. Another one arrived in Pittsburgh. Bryant was lifted in the third inning of the Cubs' 5-0 win over the Pirates with tightness in his lower right oblique. The injury stemmed from an awkward swing in his first at-bat of the evening and manager David Ross said Bryant was considered day to day until the Cubs can gather more information.
"I definitely feel like it's frustrating," Ross said. "I try to put myself in his shoes, with all the things he's been dealing with, and I'd be extremely frustrated. He was pretty emotional underneath. It's a unique year, and he's dealt with a lot."
- August 27, 2021: Bryant exited the series opener against the Braves after a 35-minute rain delay in the first inning. Manager Gabe Kapler said that Bryant suffered the injury in the top of the inning while checking his swing before he flied out to right field. Bryant will be re-evaluated.