Kris Bryant was named National League player of the week Monday. | Getty

Rizzo, who’s been connected with him for over half a decade, said Bryant is underrated and implied that his consistency has gotten him overshadowed by other players. 

Is Kris Bryant a really underrated baseball player? Anthony Rizzo thinks so.

Before Monday’s game at Wrigley Field against the Dodgers was postponed due to the forecast of inclement weather, Rizzo was asked about Bryant’s hot start to the 2021 season. Named the National League player of the week earlier Monday, Bryant has looked like the player that became a household name when he burst into baseball by winning rookie of the year in 2015 and an MVP in 2016.

Since those first two years, Bryant has accumulated 5.7 wins above replacement (via Baseball Reference) in 2017 and 4.5 WAR in 2019, but had an injury-plagued 2018 and struggled badly in the shortened 2020 season when he was in the lineup.

Rizzo, who’s been connected with him for over half a decade, said Bryant is underrated and implied that his consistency has gotten him overshadowed by other players.

“In this league, when you come on and you don’t continue to somehow ‘wow’ and you just stay consistent, the next guy comes up and wows or someone breaks out, but meanwhile KB’s just been Steady Eddie,” Rizzo said. “He’s had a couple injuries, but he’s a really good baseball player, and it’s really nice to see him have this start of success because he’s enjoying it a lot more now and it’s contagious.”

The struggling Cubs hope it will prove to be contagious when they actually begin their series with Los Angeles. Kyle Hendricks will start Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer will oppose a to-be-determined Cubs starter in the nightcap.

On Monday, Bryant was going to show off another hallmark of his game: versatility.

For just the second time in the bigs, Bryant was set to start in center field. Of course, Bryant has spent most of his career at third base but has also played left and right field with a handful of outings at first base.

And it’s not like Bryant looks lost when he leaves third base. A strong athlete, Bryant gets good jumps on the ball because he can read it well off the bat, giving the Cubs another viable outfield option when they need to jumble the lineup.

“His ability to do that is huge for our team,” Rizzo said. “It gives us so much flexibility for him to jump around and I don’t think he seems to mind it, either.”

None of this is news to Cubs manager David Ross, who was there as a teammate for Bryant’s first two seasons. He’s started Bryant in the outfield 12 times this year and hasn’t noticed a dropoff at the plate despite moving him around the diamond.

“To me, it just says how good of a baseball player he is,” Ross said. “He’s showing that. It doesn’t matter what he does, where you move him to, he’s going to go out and do his best.”

NOTES: Ross said Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner were both pretty sore after their collision Sunday. Both were run through a series of tests to see how they were doing. Neither were in the lineup posted before Monday’s postponement.

Joc Pederson (left wrist tendinitis) was activated from the 10-day injured list, and pitcher Keegan Thompson was optioned to the South Bend alternate site. By optioning Thompson, the Cubs are going with a five-man bench and keeping Hoerner up in the majors.

– Ross said he hopes reliever Pedro Strop, on a personal leave from the team, returns to the club. He doesn’t know when the veteran reliever will come back.

Read More

Leave a Reply