When the Colorado Rockies signed Kris Bryant to a seven-year pact worth $182 million back in March, it was with promises that the former MVP would boost a lackluster lineup with some glorious dingers. All through the abbreviated spring training, we eagerly waited to see the potential of his bat but we were only treated to four doubles and a number of various hits. Okay, not a bad start, but he was just getting warmed up and we’d surely get to see his first home run with the Rockies early in the season.
Sadly, that was not the fact.
All through April, we waited for a home run, and it never came. All through May, we waited for a home run, and it never came. All through June, we waited for a home run, and it never came. Multiple stints on the injured list with a back injury robbed Bryant of his power and opportunities to play on the field. However, all that would change in July as he seems to have finally found his power stroke with four home runs during this current road trip, including a multi-home run game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But why did it take so long for the boomstick to arrive?
Before and After
First and foremost, we can reason that it’s been a lack of playing time this season. Bryant has played in just 28 games this season, which amounts to about one month of play. With a short spring training as well, Bryant has not had much opportunity to get into a midseason form. Perhaps in a normal season without a lockout, he would have finally found a way to get one over the wall, while also avoiding a back strain that sapped him of his strength and ability to swing a bat. So, being healthy and getting more reps has helped him acclimate to the season and get back to his old self.
Since returning from the injured list on June 27, we are beginning to see the full offensive form of Bryant that we were promised. In 11 games he has 15 hits in 44 plate appearances with three doubles, four home runs, 30 total bases, and six RBI. In the early goings of July he is batting .375/.412/.844 which has raised his season batting line to .299/.358/.835. Things are looking up for Bryant, and things have the potential to get better if he keeps on this trend, but what can ensure his continued success?
Lighting the fuse
Bryant is currently dealing with the same problems the Rockies have as a team; too many ground balls and not enough hard-hit balls in the air. Despite having a quality batting average, that becomes meaningless if the hits aren’t bringing about results. According to FanGraphs, 42% of Bryant’s batted balls are ground balls (a career-high) with 37.2% of balls going in the air (a career-low). Statcast places Bryant’s average exit velocity at 85.7 mph with an average launch angle of 13.9 degrees, both of which are also career-lows. He only has six barrels on the season so far and a hard-hit rate of 30.7%, which helps explain why the power hasn’t been present.
So, if we expect Bryant’s power to stick around and continue to flourish, he will need to improve all of those categories. It’s great that he is making plenty of contacts, but the type of contact is what will need to change. Bryant has an effortless swing and quick hands that help generate power. The increase of ground balls could mean he’s seeing more breaking balls down low, or his bat path is causing him to get on top of the ball. However, those are simple adjustments that can be made to help lift the ball more.
K-Boom has arrived
The Rockies have been hurting for power this season. They have relied on C.J. Cron and Charlie Blackmon to provide the pop, but with Bryant appearing to get locked in, it will provide a massive boost that is quite welcomed. Free of injury has enabled him to swing freely and with purpose, which has helped produce results. Now that he can breathe a sigh of relief and have that pressure lifted, Bryant can now focus on what he knows he can do, and hopefully, help lift the Rockies' offense to the potential they envisioned prior to the season.
★ ★ ★
It was announced this week that Zac Veen would be one of the Rockies' prospects selected for the Futures Game this year. He’s got plenty to be excited about but knows that he needs to keep working on the tools that have made him one of baseball’s top prospects this season, needless to say, he is quite excited about the honor this season.
★ ★ ★
On The Farm
The Isotopes offense came to play, but an inability by the bullpen to lock things down resulted in a walk-off for the Round Rock Express in the tenth inning. The Isotopes pounded out 10 hits, including a two homer night by D.J. Peterson. Wynton Bernard also tagged his 14th homer of the season, with Sam Hilliard hitting a home run as part of a two-hit night. In his return from the IL, Ryan Feltner tossed 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen for the rest of the night. Round Rock will finally crack the bullpen, scoring four runs off of Jordan Sheffield in the seventh. Chad Smith was tasked with locking down the save in the bottom of the ninth, but Round Rock scratched four runs across to tie the game, and then took the victory in extra innings.
A rally in the ninth came up just short for the Yard Goats as they dropped the game 5-4 against New Hampshire. Hartford’s offense was stifled for most of the game but was able to rally for three runs in the top of the ninth to bring about the final score, but Isaac Collins struck out to end the game, stranding Willie MacIver on second. Noah Davis took the loss but gritted through six innings, allowing three runs on five hits, including two home runs.
Three hits were all that were allowed by starter Joe Rock during his six innings of scoreless work, while striking out five batters. The Spokane offense captialized on the fantastic start by scoring eight runs on six hits, including Warming Bernabel’s first home run with Spokane as part of a three RBI night. All but three Spokane batters had at least one hit in the game, with Julio Carreras and Zac Veen both knocking a double in the game.
Victor Juarez started on the mound for Fresno and turned in four quality innings, allowing two runs on six hits, but was inefficient with his high pitch count. However, the bullpen was able to hold San Jose to two more runs, paving the way for Fresno to utilize a three-run seventh inning to take home the victroy. Juan Brito drove in three runs for Fresno with a bases clearing double, while Yorvis Torrealba had the lone multi-hit night for the Grizzlies, including his first triple of the season.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!