The move from the firesale franchise in Chicago to the eventual AL West champions of San Francisco looked like a match made in Heaven for Kris Bryant. If ever a player exuded West coast laid-back chill, it was the walking Adonis that is Bryant.
There is no argument that Bryant is one of the greatest hitters of this generation. Oh wait, you are arguing? Why? Because he hasn’t replicated his MVP season?
Ignore the COVID-19 disrupted 2020, and KB been pretty damn special. Even in his worst year (2018) he was more than 20% better than league average.
Still in his 20s (at least, he is if this article gets published before 4 January), the former MVP sits tied-ninth in fWAR since he joined The Show in 2015.
Despite a delayed start to his debut season in 2015 #ServiceTimeManipulation, Bryant won the Rookie of the Year award that season, while also leading the league in strikeouts. The following year he addressed the strikeout issue and led the league with 121 runs en route to claiming the NL MVP. Oh, and he won a World Series ring.
In 2017, Bryant posted career-highs with .409 OBP and .946 OPS. Injuries shortened his 2018 campaign, which despite 21% above league average (121 OPS) was the worst season of his career (with the exception of Covid 2020).
He was back to All-Star form in 2019 with 31 homers and .903 OPS. And last season, Bryant was again an All-Star and finished the year with a ridiculous .471/.500/1.147 postseason slash line.
So, although not the best hitter in the game, KB is a more reliable masher than all but a handful of players.
What sets the Las Vegas-born hitter apart from other sluggers of similar calibre is his outstanding versatility.
A third baseman by trade, Bryant, who fielded the ball at the hot corner in the final play of the Cubs World Series win, has also proved himself as a highly-capable first baseman.
In 2021, for both the Cubs and Giants, Bryant played the outfield more frequently than the infield. And not only left field, Bryant played right field 39 times, and even made 19 appearances in centre. The number of 1.96M, 104kg corner infielders who can man centre field competently is one.
Oh, and Bryant has also been thrown in at shortstop a couple of times.
Part of the problem with so many free agents is their inability to play other positions. I love Freddie Freeman, but you’re not signing him to play anywhere else other than first base – or universal DH. I love Nick Castellanos even more than Freeman, but his glove seems a liability wherever he plays.
Bryant brings elite production, face-of-the-franchise charisma, athleticism, and unrivalled flexibility. He just might be the most complete player in baseball.
And not that I needed any more convincing, but he is also a supporter of foodbanks.
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
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