Forbidden Love: Kris Bryant
Forbidden Love is a Cubs DNA series where our staff waxes poetic about a player on a team other than the Cubs. Maybe even one you think they should hate. In this installment, Staci's had it with the disproportionate disdain for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, and is letting it all out before the playoffs start. Strap it on!
I really didn't want to have to write this, but here we are. Maybe I should learn to stay off of social media after Cubs games. And before them. And during them. But no, I still log onto Twitter and Facebook and read all of the scorching hot taeks about the Cubs, which this season have been ratcheted up to nuclear levels during a pandemic and the stop and start of a shortened season featuring all sorts of new rules.
Whatever it is, it's caused a rain of hellfire on Kris Bryant this season like I have yet to see in seasons past. And that's with him being probably the most underrappreciated Cub I've had the pleasure of watching during my 30+ years as a fan. And yes, I had this post written before Kris adopted his healthy attitude toward Cubs Twitter over the weekend:
You guys have done it now! Sparkles said a swear!
Honestly, I have never, in all my years as a baseball fan, seen a fan base so undeservedly and prematurely turn on an elite player the way a portion of Cubs fans turned on Bryant. He's soft. He's average. He's not clutch. He peaked at 25. He's injury prone. He's not going to re-sign anyway, so let's trade him. Last week, someone even came up with this gem about Bryant's upcoming 2021 contract, to which Pronk responded appropriately:
Let me give you a dose of reality before we move on, and I'll warn you now--I'm about to get capsy.
Before this season, KRIS BRYANT WAS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE CUBS. NOT Javy Baez. NOT Anthony Rizzo. NOT Willson Contreras. And OMG not "Two Month Cub" Nick Castellanos who is currently rocking at 106 wRC+ and would've been a complete overpay like he is for the Reds had the Cubs re-signed him. (I'll have more on this in a future post.) Since 2016, Kris led the team in fWAR EVERY SINGLE SEASON EXCEPT 2018 WHEN HE WAS INJURED. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!?!? EVEN IN 2019!!!!!! And the only player to best him in his rookie season was the guy who won the Cy Young Award!
If we're talking in terms of what Kris has done for us, let's look at it in terms of the entire team, hmmmmm?
For a guy who's a bust, he sure has led the team in fWAR a whole lot.
And for everyone who likes to complain that KB isn't clutch, well, that's simply not a thing. Some helpful stats from Jordan Bastian, MLB's Cubs beat writer:
There's also this:
Yet Twitter is still full of garbage tweets from Cubs "fans" like this:
I'm not overlooking the garbage fishing by Waddle and Silvy, either, who have been two of the biggest anti-Bryant meatballs in Chicago sports media.
We all know Bryant has been struggling through some injury issues, and it's made his play suffer to an extreme during this weird season. The thing is, I just don't get why fans turn on Kris when other players are having seasons that are just as bad or worse.
Kris also is in a "damned if he does, damned if he doesn't" position with his injuries. If he goes on the IL, fans and "journalists" proclaim he's soft. If he doesn't and his production suffers, then curse him for playing through it. Other players... well, let's just say that when Tony does his yearly IL stint for his back, every Cubs fan on Twitter is offering him their back and calling him the Captain.
Is Sparkles too quiet? Is it because he doesn't curse (uh... MUCH) or drink or act like a dude bro or flip his bat? Is it because his wife is a normal person and he's been with her forever and somehow you think that makes him less cool? (Spoiler alert: It doesn't, and I would love to hang out with Jess Bryant any day of the week.) Have Cubs fans spent too much time drinking Malört and White Claw that their memories are shot, and they forget about things like this?
The Cubs never trailed again, BTW.
Or hey, if you want something more recent, here's one!
Also, if you're wondering, KB has been pretty darn decent his past few weeks worth of games:
And let's not forget Kris's uncanny ability to frustrate disgraced former Reds announcer Thom Brennaman like no one else.
Maybe I'm the only one, but I'm not ready to turn my back yet on the Cubs' actual best player. Mind you, I am just about to the place again where I'd be happy for him if the Cubs trade him to a team whose fan base would actually appreciate him, especially since it's very possible we won't have him after this season. After all, the Nationals, Braves and a few other teams could still use an MVP caliber third baseman. Maybe their fans would be nicer to poor Sparkles... who knows. Until then, Cubs fans are stuck with one of the best players to grace the team in several years. I, for one, will continue to embrace that and root for his health so he can fully return to form, because to me KB is always...