Kris Bryant is so bad.
How bad is he?
So bad, he’s on pace to drive in more than 100 runs — from the No. 2 spot in the order, no less — and score well over 100 more.
Geez, no wonder Cubs fans have spent the early season complaining about him like he’s an invading fly in their batting-helmet bowl of nachos.
Where do we stand on Bryant these days, anyway? Is he an upper-case GOAT or a lower-case goat? Is he a hero or a bum? Does “Bryzzo” really have such a great ring to it, or is “Baezzo” just plain better?
Here’s what I suspect: Bryant is the same guy who won Rookie of the Year in 2015; who won MVP in 2016; who upped his walks and lowered his strikeouts as he became more of a complete hitter in 2017; who was on track for another big season in 2018 before his left shoulder started screaming at him.
Yes, the same guy who, each spring, has said a version of this: “I’m not trying to be good. I’m trying to be great.”
Bryant’s walk-off home run Tuesday to beat the Marlins 5-2 was great. Even more impressive, though, was his shot the night before in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss in the series opener. He sent it so high and deep into the Wrigleyville night that, for a moment, anyway, it seemed that maybe Bryant was the only man in the ballpark who could produce such a splendid home run.
The sound of it, the shape of its flight — this was the work of Bryant the superstar.
Not Bryant the flop, the bust and the target of fan frustration.
How bad is Bryant? So bad, he’s on pace to set career highs in walks and doubles and hit around 30 homers. So bad, his unselfishness about toggling between third base, left field and right field defensively — a lot of MVPs would’ve raised hell before doing that — merely sets the tone for an entire team.
The army of advanced-metrics experts on Twitter might want to throw their slide rules and pocket protectors at me for missing the point, but I look at Bryant’s terrible, maddening, demoralizing 2019 performance to date and think: Not bad at all.
Chances are it’ll get a lot better, too. We might even have to find someone else to complain about.
I’M JUST SAYIN’
What part of “American League RBI leader Jose Abreu” don’t the White Sox understand?
Seriously, it’s hard to buy into a rebuilding project that doesn’t have Abreu — who’s on a one-year contract — as a foundational piece. Can execs Ken Williams and Rick Hahn really look at Abreu’s early-season numbers, factor in how admired and respected he is in the clubhouse and conclude, “Nope, we don’t want that”?
Pry open the safe, brush away the cobwebs and pay the man. Or at least trade him for the next Yoan Moncada or Eloy Jimenez. (Isn’t playing GM easy and fun?)
— Meanwhile, Sox catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is hitting .359 with an OPS of .995.
Wait, that’s not Pudge?
If only James McCann could keep doing his stellar impression of the Hall of Famer forever. Even another couple of weeks would be nice.
— How thoroughly must Bulls long-lost pal Nikola Mirotic be enjoying his run through the Eastern Conference playoffs with the Bucks?
First, the Bulls decided they didn’t want him. A year later, the Pelicans decided the same thing. Calf and thumb injuries then prevented Mirotic from giving it a full go in Milwaukee after he was traded there from New Orleans in February.
But he’s finally healthy, and the Bucks have won three straight in their second-round series against the Celtics since coach Mike Budenholzer inserted him into the starting lineup after an ugly Game 1 defeat.
Mirotic made it to the second round with the Bulls in 2015, but a guy by the name of LeBron James was waiting for them in Cleveland. Mirotic made it to Round 2 with the Pelicans in 2018, but that’s where they ran into Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and the Warriors.
The Bucks, on the other hand, appear to be rolling to the Finals. It’s got to beat the heck out of being punched in the face by Bobby Portis.
— If a Bears kicker is released in Lake Forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
— The legend of Bears third-round pick David Montgomery grows by the day. Is he most like Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott or Kareem Hunt?
I ask because I’ve already read Montgomery comparisons to each of those running backs.
The first headline in a Tuesday Google search of his name: “Bears RB Montgomery predicted to make 2019 NFL All-Rookie Team.”
It’s the least the next Walter Payton could do.