At a glance, the 2016 NL MVP had a disappointing season in 2017 -- his home-run total fell from 39 to 29, and he drove in just 73 runs after racking 102 RBI the previous season. A closer look reveals signs of improvement in the underlying numbers, however, as Kris Bryant struck out a career-low 19.2 percent of the time while drawing walks at a career-high 14.3 percent clip. While his RBI output was lighter than expected, Bryant racked up 111 runs scored, finishing eighth in MLB in 2017 after he cracked the top-five in 2016. He spent more time in the No. 2 spot in the batting order last season, which paired with the Cubs' lack of an OBP machine in the leadoff spot following the departure of Dexter Fowler, reduced his opportunities to drive in runs. The slight drop in power should slightly deflate Bryant's price at the draft table this spring, but there's no compelling reason to think that he can't be one of the most productive hitters in the league in 2018.
Bryant agreed to a one-year, $10.85 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The $10.85 million is the most ever for a player in their first year of arbitration eligibility. It's only fitting, as Bryant has already won an MVP, and while his power numbers fell off last year, he had a top-four OBP in the NL. The biggest question heading into 2018 is whether Bryant will continue to bat primarily out of the two hole (411 at-bats last season).
Bryant is out of the lineup against the Reds on Friday. Bryant receives another day off after Chicago clinched the division title Wednesday, while Ian Happ picks up a start in his stead. Over his last seven games, Bryant is hitting .440/.545/.760 with two home runs and six RBI.
Bryant is not in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Cardinals. The Cubs are resting their starters after clinching the division title Wednesday, so Bryant will head to the bench as Taylor Davis takes over at the hot corner for Thursday's series finale.
Bryant went 3-for-4 with a walk, a solo home run and two runs scored in Monday's win over the Cardinals. After going 7-for-14 in a four-game series against Milwaukee, Bryant continued his torrid pace Monday. His counting stats are a bit down from his 2016 MVP numbers, but Bryant's current .954 OPS would actually be the best of his three-year career. The 25-year-old is simply one of the elite offensive players in baseball, and fantasy owners are reaping the rewards to finish out the year.
Bryant went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, an RBI and a run scored in Sunday's win over the Brewers. Bryant tormented Milwaukee pitching all weekend, as he went 7-for-14 with a home run, four runs scored and five RBI in the four-game series. That's what you expect out of an MVP player in a key divisional showdown. Bryant should continue to produce at a high level to close out the regular season and into the postseason.