Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant

Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports

Cubs' Kris Bryant Not Worried About Numbers -- Unless It's His Strikeout Rate

Bryant's strikeout rate is trending down for the third straight season.

Bruce Levine
April 13, 2018 - 2:19 pm
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By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- While he had the seventh-best WAR in baseball last season, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant saw his power numbers in the counting categories drop to 29 homers and 73 RBIs. 

That's of no worry, then or now, for Bryant who accentuates the positive, eliminates the negative and also had a .946 OPS last season that was seventh in the National League.

"I thought I had a pretty solid season," Bryant said. "You learn something every season. I did the most I could every day to help the team win and fight through the little nagging injuries I had."

Part of the downtick for Bryant's RBI numbers a season ago was because the Cubs never settled on a productive lead-off hitter. Bryant also experienced a nagging wrist injury and battled an ankle problem, ailments that limited him but brougth no complaints.

What Bryant has been pleased with over the past few seasons is his drop in strikeouts, from 1999 as a rookie in 2015 to 128 last season. It's a trend he wants to keep going.

"It should be about getting better as a player and you being more aware of how people are pitching you," Bryant said. "I am more aware of not swinging at pitches out of the zone that I did earlier in my career. You want to be a complete hitter, and I don't think I was that in striking out 30 percent of the time during my rookie year. This is an area I always want to improve on. Hopefully, I can improve on this every season."

Entering play Friday, the 26-year-old Bryant was hitting .333 with two homers and eight RBIs in the first 12 games, over which he had struck out eight times in 60 plate appearances, a rate of 13.3 percent.

His strikeout rate was 19.2 percent in 2017, 22.0 in 2016 and 30.6 percent as a rookie in 2015.

"He is so focused and a really good self-evaluator," manager Joe Maddon said. "He is a good hitter. He has power. He uses the whole field. Now he is working on not going outside of the strike zone. Of course, he is going to strike out on occasion. For the most part, he recognizes this is the thing he must do to become a really elite hitter. Beyond the power, he really wants to hit for a better average too. The only way to hit for a better average is to accept your walks."

Bryant isn't a perfectionist when it comes to his swing. He just likes to keep it simple.

"I really don't like to overthink things," Bryant said. "I am big on under-evaluating things. We as players get in trouble when we look at too much video or swing too often. You need to stay away from trying to find something there that really is not there."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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