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Kris Bryant: The new face of the Rockies

He’s here for his teammates, the challenge, and some control.

In batting practice on Thursday, Kris Bryant was hitting bombs. (They were beautiful, artfully floating over the left field wall like baby birds finding their way home.)

After he’d finished, he spoke with reporters and gave his thoughts on playing baseball at elevation as well as his role on the team. If there’s a theme that’s emerging in Bryant’s conversations with the press, it’s control — as in Kris Bryant finally has some control, and he likes it.

But first, he pointed out that the Colorado Rockies are in a good place as the season gets underway. “I just feel like seriously awesome vibes going on right now,” Bryant said. “Everybody seems to be getting along. I don’t know what it was like here before I got here, but we’re all having a lot of fun.”

Photo is Kris Bryant at media availability.

“I think [my personality] fits well,” Bryant said. “You have your fair share of goofballs, the guys that talk the talk, and it’s great, and I’ll do a little bit of that, too. But there’s a lot of the guys’ personalities in there that complement each other. And I feel like I complement a lot of people there, too. So it really has been seamless.”

He remains confident that the Rockies can compete — and for those who like to cite projection systems, Bryant isn’t interested.

“I don’t really care what people have to say about whatever algorithms or projections are expected that they have out there,” Bryant said. He also pointed out that as a player, he has insight to the game that any algorithm lacks.

In case you’re interested, the projections have been down on the Rockies (whether Kris Bryant is paying action or not). In addition to a 70-92 record, here’s what ZiPS is projecting for individual players:

This table shows the Rockies projections as created by ZiPS.
Source: FanGraphs

It’s not promising, but Bryant believes in the game and his teammates.

He was, he said, drawn to the Rockies for a number of reasons.

First, Bryant likes the longevity of some members of the organization “The amount of people that I’ve met here that have been here for a very, very long time is impressive,” Bryant said. “I think it says a lot about ownership and the people here. It’s a great situation to be in, and I’m certainly feeling that. I’ve met probably a dozen people that have been here over 20 years, and I haven’t seen that in baseball.”

And, yes, he thinks the Rockies can contend in no small part because of the experienced personnel.

As Bryant put it, “I think there are some really good veterans here. Obviously. I think Charlie being the guy that’s been here for a long time. CJ has been around, José Iglesias, myself, a pitching staff that has some really good stuff.”

He’s eager to learn from his teammates about playing at elevation, but he’s also looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m all ears to these guys who have done it before,” Bryant said.

He sees baseball at elevation as a potential benefit to be exploited.

“I’m sure it’ll take some getting used to [hitting breaking balls at elevation and then at sea level], but also the fact that you do play 81 games here where the breaking ball won’t break as much or whatever, the science is behind it, and that’s good as a hitter,” Bryant said.

He continued, “If a guy has a really good curveball, here, it might not look as good. So you really want to take advantage of those games. And maybe that’s why we do well at home.”

But he acknowledges the Rockies have to get better on the road: “Maybe finding a way to figure out something that clicks on the road to where you figure out how to hit those guys with the better breaking stuff on the road.” He added, “So, I’m looking forward to learning along the way.”

Another reason Bryant signed with the Rockies was his wish to be with a team that would provide him with an opportunity to have a voice.

“I think I made that clear in the offseason and talking with all the teams that I really would like to have more of a say and have an opinion and my opinion heard,” Bryant said, “just because I felt like in the past, I’ve never really had that. So I was kind of always — not the younger guy — but there were guys ahead of me, and nobody really asked my opinion, and now they are, and that feels good.”

Given Bryant’s experience with service time manipulation and then his trade to the Giants in 2021, it would make sense that he would value having control of his career.

When asked about becoming the face of the franchise, Bryant made clear this wasn’t his first rodeo — and he’s fine with the attention.

“For me — and this goes back to when I was drafted and having a lot of expectations on my shoulders, being drafted second overall and then having a good spring training in 2015 and getting sent down and having billboards outside of Wrigley Field before I was even called up — that’s a lot of pressure.”

He continued. “So I’ve been through it before. I know how to handle it. I know just not to even pay attention to it. Because I think when you do pay attention to it, that’s where you get too high, you think you’re better than you are, and that’s just not who I am. In terms of just leadership, this is something that really stuck with me with Bill Schmidt and Dick and ownership — just telling you that you don’t need to be someone you’re not. And that’s, I think, that’s the best quality of a leader: someone who’s genuine, someone who can have a conversation with someone who’s struggling, someone who can stand up here and answer you guys’ questions, honestly.”

Bryant again made clear, as he has since signing with the Rockies, his intention to stay: “I think so far, so good. I hope to do that for the full seven years.”

Today marks Day 1 of a hopeful 2555 for Kris Bryant.