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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: KRIS BRYANT 3B CHICAGO CUBS

What on earth is going on here?  Just two short years from being in consideration for a top 2-3 pick in fantasy baseball drafts and at a time when he is just reaching the prime years, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is in the process of trying to halt two straight years of declining offensive numbers.  While it was bad enough that Cubs manager Joe Maddon planted Bryant in the second spot in the team's order in 2017 (which robbed him of RBI chances), it is concerning that he still saw declines in 4 out of the 5 standard ROTO categories (all but batting average) that were just the undercard to what became an even more horrifying performance a year later.  Even though this publication and pretty much everyone else in the fantasy baseball community gave Bryant a mulligan for his 2017 dip, no one could have foreseen him hitting just .272 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI in 447 at-bats last season.  Now right off the bat, it does need to be said that Bryant was severely impacted by a persistent shoulder injury that lingered almost the entire second half of the year.  Any shoulder ailment almost always negatively hurt prospective power and so Bryant's sizable decline in homers and RBI can at least partly be explained on that front.  Bryant does need to take some blame though for striking out more often (K/9 going from 19.2 in 2017 up to 23.4 last season) and at the same time drawing fewer walks (14.3 BB/9 down to 10.5 during the same span).  Perhaps the extended slump Bryant dealt with contributed to him being more aggressive at the dish and falling out of his swing more often but the numbers were a complete letdown considering the spring cost.  Finally, Bryant already seems done with stealing bases as he has now gone from a high of 13 in 2015 all the way down to just 2 a year ago.  So after digesting all the negativity, what happens next?  Well let's start with Bryant going into just his age-27 season in 2019 and we all know that is when the prime years begin and often the offensive numbers take off.  We also firmly believe the shoulder was a big problem that both Bryant and the Cubs minimized to the public and was directly responsible for the numbers decline.  So figuring Bryant enters into 2019 spring training with a clean bill of health, we could be looking at a return to around 30 homers, 100 runs/RBI, and an average that will be in the neighborhood of .290.  That would certainly be a mighty valuable batch of numbers and be worthy of a second round pick in drafts.  The best part is that Bryant may slip to Round 3 coming off such a tough season and there we would not hesitate for a second jumping back into a fantasy baseball relationship with the guy.  The talent is just too obvious.
2019 PROJECTION:  .288 28 HR 95 RBI 110 R 7 SB

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