The sudden decline of Kris Bryant was one of the great mysteries during the shortened 2020 MLB Season. Bryant, Chicago’s third baseman, won the NL MVP Award in 2016. Since that time he’s felt overrated but then just fell off a cliff this past year. Is it time to just acknowledge maybe Kris Bryant just flat out sucks?
Bryant was one of the worst baseball players in the sport a year ago. If you changed his last name to Davis and plugged him in the Orioles lineup, nobody would have noticed. In 2020, the former 2nd overall pick in 2013 sported a batting line of .206/.293/.351. GOD AWFUL!
The poor battling line is one thing. Bryant hit just 4 homers during the entire season and posted an OPS+ of 73. He wasn’t just not hitting, the power also vanished.
Use whatever advanced metric you want, Bryant was trash in 2020:
- Exit Velocity: 11th percentile
- Hard Hit %: 18th percentile
- xwOBA: 10th percentile
- xwBA: 7th percentile
- Barrel%: 31st percentile
- K%: 25th percentile
- BB%: 38th percentile
- Whiff%: 32nd percentile
Bryant was worse than league average across the board. How do you explain such a colossal collapse? Yes, Bryant only played 34 games in 2020. Maybe it’s a blip on the radar. However, one thing really stands out when comparing his 2019 batting line.
In 2019, Bryant CRUSHED fastballs. He hit 24 dingers and batted over .300 seeing them about 57% of the time at the plate. In 2020, Bryant saw fastballs 56.5% of the time and only hit 4 homers batting in the .240 range. Why was he having such a hard time catching up to the heater?
The San Diego product did see an increase in breaking balls faced. Let’s just say that didn’t go well as he hit .128 against anything classified as a breaking ball. Can we chalk it up as a fluke or have pitchers recognized Bryant needs to see a more steady diet of breaking balls?
Maybe it’s an oversimplification for trying to justify a bad performance in an odd season? Maybe the numbers would have returned back to the norm in a full season? The only thing that is clear is that Bryant is in a make or break season. In his age 28 season, Kris Bryant either has to rebound or will join the Bryce Harper group among the most overrated players in baseball.