(670 The Score) A month into the MLB season, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is submitting an MVP-worthy performance.
Bryant is tied for the MLB lead with nine homers and is tied for fourth with 22 RBIs. His 1.114 OPS also ranks sixth in all of baseball. Beyond all that, Bryant has been as versatile as ever for the Cubs, playing five different defensive positions across his 26 games. His scorching hot start has come after he struggled during an injury-plagued 2020 season.
“I really haven't changed anything," Bryant said last week. “I just know to get out there and play this game I have succeeded in for so long. I have not changed one thing at all. This is just me going out and playing, letting the chips fall where they may. This is now a more peace-of-mind thing. Who knows, this might be some of our last years here. I think we have done all we can to show each of us wants to play here. Let's just go out there and enjoy this and soak it all in.”
On Monday, Bryant was named the National League Player of the Week after he hit .417 with four homers and 10 RBIs in six games last week. It was just the latest evidence of the 29-year-old Bryant establishing himself as an elite player once again, as he’s showcasing the form that made him the NL MVP in 2016 before he followed it with a great 2017.
Bryant acknowledged that he has made a tweak in the approach to his workload after his health issues in 2020.
"I have cut down on some swings,” Bryant said of taking less batting practice. “As far as the number of swings in the cage, I want to save my best ones for the game and not tire myself out.”
Bryant has also taken manager David Ross’ advice to attack early in the count to heart. He homered and doubled on the first pitch of at-bats in the Cubs’ 13-12 loss to the Reds on Sunday. He also homered on the third pitch of another at-bat.
"That is just how you have to approach baseball now,” Bryant said. “You see 98-mph sinkers every day. So you are often playing defense on offense with some of these pitchers. So the idea is to try to control the at-bat. Try to control what you want to do in the box, and I think you have a chance for more success. Maybe this is a mental change of what I want to do. I am just trying to control the box while I am up there.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.