Breaking Down Kris Bryant
Bryant has often been compared to Arenado over the years as one of the top options in the majors for third basemen. Bryant came scorching into the majors in 2015 posting up fWAR numbers of 6.1, 7.9 and 6.7 in his first three seasons while collecting an NL MVP and a World Series Championship in 2016. That total of 20.7 fWAR ranked him 3rd in that timeframe behind only Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout.
Then he battled some shoulder inflammation in 2018 that forced him to be put onto the IL multiple times. While still decent, he saw his numbers drop from a previous wRC+ of 144 (2015-2017) to 126 in 2018. He was only able to play in 102 games and only accumulated 2.3 fWAR because of it.
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He rebounded offensively last year and saw his wRC+ bounce back to 135 and he accumulated 4.8 fWAR in 147 games. That’s great progress but obviously short of how he performed in his first three seasons. Now what he did in those first years by average almost 7 fWAR per year is an unreasonable ask for most, but there’s still work to be done before he could potentially return to that level.
The main area of concern with Bryant is in regards to his defense. He provides a bit of versatility in terms of the positions he can play (spent time at 3B, LF, RF and a small amount of innings at 1B in 2019). But defensively he hasn’t provided the same positive value that he did in 2015 and 2016. His UZR/150 at 3B, where the Cubs primarily play him, has been a negative value in three consecutive seasons (-0.7, -4.5, -1.5). His DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) has dropped year by year as well (1, -2, -7) and his dWAR from Baseball Reference reflects similar declining production (0.4, -0.5, -1.1).
Though he’s showing a declining value by most defensive metrics, he more than makes up for it with his bat. In total, he should be expected to put up around 5+ fWAR for multiple years barring injury and FanGraphs projects he’ll put up around 4.8 fWAR in 2020.