We had heard for years about this can’t-miss prospect in the minors named Kris Bryant. Young, absurd power, future star – you know the rest.
Well, one year into his career, Bryant is proving the prognosticators right. The Cubs third baseman hit .275 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs en route to being named NL Rookie of the Year this past season. But for all of Bryant’s well-deserved platitudes, there’s one thing you can nit-pick about: his NL-leading 199 whiffs.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to work on,” Bryant said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I believe that I can do it. That’s a good place to start. I think it’s important to realize what you do well and what you don’t do well and realize that you’re not a perfect player. I think the sooner you realize that, the more your potential come out and the better you’ll be for it.”
Bryant was asked if he’d rather hit .330 with 22 home runs and 40 doubles, or .285 with 40 homers.
“I think the latter,” Bryant said. “I think growing up, you want to hit a home run. Nobody’s like, ‘I got this sweet double the other way.’ I hit my first home run when I was 8 years old. When I was growing up, my grandparents would give me 20 bucks every home run I hit. So I had some incentives from growing up. I would take the latter.”
But would the Cubs be okay with that?
“I think so,” Bryant said. “I think they know the type of player that I am and they accept it. They are really great about telling me what they like about me and what I need to work on. I know what I need to do, too. So it’s refreshing to see that they’re satisfied with what I do.”
The Cubs, however, might not be satisfied with the service-time grievance that Bryant filed against the franchise. The Cubs insist that Bryant needed more development in the minors to begin the year, thus preventing him from becoming a free agent after the 2020 season. Bryant spent his first eight games at Triple-A Iowa and, as a result, won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.
Bryant was called up one day after the deadline. He does not know how the grievance will play out.
“Honestly, I have no clue,” the 23-year-old said. “I don’t know how the process works. It’s really a union matter. As a player, there’s nothing that I can do or say. I just got to go out there and play and focus on helping the team win – and that’s really what I did from the very get-go. I had a blast doing it, and I had fun playing baseball. It’s a business, I’m realizing.”
While Bryant’s grievance may not help him, it could help future players down the line.
“I think just going to bat for people after me, it’s important,” Bryant said. “As players, I think we come together. Things change over time. I think this is something that probably will get changed, but we’ll see. You never know.”
Getting back to the field, Bryant said the toughest pitcher he faced all season was White Sox ace Chris Sale.
“The delivery, he throws 100, he’s a lefty – you don’t know where it’s coming,” Bryant said. “He’s a great pitcher, and I’d love for him to be on my team. He’s unbelievable.”