Kris Bryant is officially locked in.
The Cubs third baseman has a 19-game on-base streak in which he's hitting .281/.447/.688 with six home runs, 18 RBI and 18 walks.
The former NL MVP's offensive burst got kicked off when Bryant tried out a new bat type and bat handle after he broke his old bat on April 26 against the Diamondbacks.
"It was just one day, 'I'm going to bring this (Axe Bat) as my extra,'" Bryant told The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma. "Usually when you break your bat, it's when you put a ball in play and you're out or get a hit or whatever. It's not a foul ball. So the bat boy brings it to me and I'm like, 'OK, I'm just going to use this.' First swing, home run. And I was like, 'Oh, OK, I'll stick with it.' And I have since then and I just feel really good about my swing."
"I've been having good at-bats, so I don't know if it's the bat or what, but it's always nice to use a new one and hit a homer."
Here's more from the Axe Bat's website:
We created a handle designed for the way your hand grips the bat, and that improved grip is scientifically proven to enhance your bat speed and barrel control. Meet the Axe Bat axe handle.
Engineered for the biomechanics and ergonomics of your swing, the axe handle supports your most natural and efficient movement through the hitting zone. When compared to the old-school round knob in a comprehensive study conducted by UCLA's Vijay Gupta, Ph.D., using elite college baseball players, the axe handle was superior in every category.
Bryant shared further insight with Sharma on the Axe Bat, and the ways it's been working for him so far:
"It's almost like a comfort thing," Bryant said. "You're holding the bat and it just feels natural. With a round knob there are different pressure points on your hand that kind of feels off a little bit. But this is just super smooth and continuous. It just feels natural.
"It's designed for a swing too. You can't swing in certain ways because it'll feel off. If you stay in your right bat path, it's what's natural with that bat. So you keep doing that and repeating that. That's good because as a hitter what you want is a repeatable swing, an in-the-zone kind of swing."
After his slow start to the 2019 season (and a 2018 season that was marred by a left shoulder injury), Bryant finally looks like himself again. Now with Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras all heating up at the same time, the Cubs can make a serious push ahead of the rest of the National League Central.
On Wednesday, the Cubs beat the Marlins (CHC 4, MIA 1) for their 18th in last 23 games and third straight win. The first-place Cubs will welcome division rival Milwaukee Brewers for a three-game series at Wrigley beginning on Friday.