One of a few things that has changed for Colorado Rockies left fielder Kris Bryant is just that: he’s a left fielder.
Left field isn’t necessarily a new position for Bryant but it is different that he’s just a left fielder. He had played 159 games in left field in his career before this season but, particularly in the last few years, he has been a “super-utility” guy.
For the Cubs and Giants in 2021, he played 55 games at third base, 48 games in left field, 39 games in right field, 14 games in center field, 12 games at first base, and one game (two innings) at shortstop.
In 15 games for the Rockies in 2022, Bryant has played left field 12 times and been a DH in three games. That change has been a welcomed change for Bryant in 2022.
Kris Bryant has liked just playing left field for the Colorado Rockies
Kris Bryant is no longer playing numerous different positions now that he is with the Colorado Rockies as he only has to play left field.
When asked if playing left field has helped him, here’s what he had to say.
“Definitely,” Bryant told Rox Pile in an exclusive conversation on Sunday. “The DH is really beneficial too for a lot of us who are out there every day to get a little half-day off. But it’s nice to know that I’ll mostly be in one area so I can really try to focus on that one area and get better at that.”
By the defensive metrics, Bryant has struggled to start the season in left field as in just 12 games in left, he has -2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), which is tied for the worst on the Rockies, according to Baseball-Reference.
But for defensive work, Bryant says that just playing left field has helped so he can focus more on his play there.
“Before, I never knew if I had to take groundballs or flyballs or work on bunt defensives,” Bryant said. “All of that stuff goes into (playing multiple positions in the outfield and infield) and there, physically, isn’t enough time in a game day to cram all of that stuff in.”
Since he has been with the Rockies, he says that hasn’t taken groundballs in the infield at all. But that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t do it.
“(The Rockies), essentially, said that I really didn’t need to but if there’s a point where I have to (late in a game, for one game, or for an extended period), we can make it happen, absolutely … I’ve done the whole moving around thing for a long time. It was great, I still can do it, and I’m totally open to it but it’s nice to know that I’ll kind of be in one area.”
In recent years, Rockies manager Bud Black has used some of his regulars in different positions (like with Ryan McMahon at third and second base in 2021, or second, first, and third prior to that) and he still does it with some players now, like Connor Joe, who has already played first base, left field, right field, and DH in 2022.
However, as he told the media on Sunday before Colorado’s game with Detroit, he has been trying to cut back on that for his regular players.
“I’m trying to stay as consistent as possible on where these guys play,” Black explained. “It benefits them all around. If we were to do it, we’d do it where it makes sense for a longer period of time, like a week if something happened to somebody, we’d do it but bouncing guys around (isn’t what we want to do).”
However, some of his bench players (and Connor Joe, who has been an everyday guy for the team in 2022) will bounce around some.
“I think there are some guys who are in the lineup and they’re going to bounce around,” Black said. “(Garrett) Hampson, (Alan) Trejo to a certain extent, Connor Joe, (Sam) Hilliard can bounce around to all three (positions) in the outfield but going from the outfield to the infield and back, I know Kris can do it. He’ll never complain. He’s done it his whole career but I think it’s best for us and best for Kris to stay (in one spot).”
So, unless there’s an injury to a player or an extreme circumstance (like Kyle Freeland playing right field in the 10th inning of a 13-9 game that was the second game of a doubleheader when they played seven-inning doubleheaders in 2021), expect Bryant to play left field and DH and only those two for the foreseeable future. And Kris Bryant is more than happy for that to be the case.