Bryant will be the team's primary leadoff man this spring, manager David Ross said Wednesday afternoon. The Cubs open Cactus League play against the Athletics on Saturday.
"You’ll see him at the top of the order a whole lot in spring training," Ross said. "My goal is to put the best players and the best at-bats for me at the top of the order. Kris Bryant is a really good at-bat, gets on base, is probably one of our best baserunners. His baseball IQ is extremely high. So when you talk about putting the best players in baseball at the top of the order, I think that’s our best player and I want to put him at the top."
Bryant and Ross had a meeting Wednesday morning about his role with the Cubs, and Bryant is embracing the idea of hitting leadoff. Bryant has hit leadoff seven times in his five-year MLB career, with none of those occasions coming in 2019. Bryant has hit second and third most often in his career.
"I led off my whole junior year in college, and I won the Dick Howser award (as the best collegiate player) and first-team All-American and the Golden Spikes award," Bryant said.
"I did fine. I don't mind it. I kind of look at the two-hole as another lead-off hitter too. So you can kind of interchange those to me. I think the past three years, we haven't really had someone that was stuck in the leadoff hole and stayed there. I think we totally took Dexter (Fowler) for granted while he was here -- I certainly did. Because he was up there working great at-bats. He was always on base, a high on-base percentage. I think that showed in the numbers of the people who hit after him. But I think when you have so much turnover and just trying certain guys out, you don't get that consistency. If I need to be the guy that's up there that is going to be consistent and get on base, I'll be that guy."
Bryant has a career .385 on-base percentage, so he fits well from that standpoint. He has also been one of the Cubs' best hitters for years, and using him atop the order will maximize his plate appearances. Bryant hit .282 with 31 homers, 77 RBIs, 108 runs, a .903 OPS and a .382 on-base percentage in 147 games in 2019.
Ross also indicated that he would like to use first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the second spot.
Leadoff was a black hole for the Cubs in 2019, as they used 10 players there and only got a .212 batting average and .294 on-base percentage out of the spot. With that in mind, Ross stressed he must have patience in using Bryant at leadoff if he happens to struggle, a sign that this move projects as the permanent answer for the regular season.
"This is a commitment on his part," Ross said of Bryant. "It's really easy to change the lineup in my seat, but I think that screams panic when you start to change all that. This is one of the best players in baseball, and putting him at the top of the order and how he goes about his business, I want representing our team night in and night out. And he's on board with that, which is great."
Bryant echoed those comments.
"I love to do everything," Bryant said. "I've always said that. I love doing anything I can to help the team win."