It’s hard to disagree that Kris Bryant’s contract with the Colorado Rockies has been an unmitigated disaster over his first two seasons with the team. Bryant’s seven year, $182 million deal complete with a full no-trade clause has felt more and more like a rope around the Rockies’ neck as the one-time MVP and four time All-Star hasn’t logged much playing time with his new team.
With 17 games remaining in the 2023 season, Bryant has appeared in just 110 games since he signed with the Rockies last offseason. He’s suffered a myriad of ailments ranging from the frustrating (his lingering back issues and plantar fasciitis) to the just-plain unlucky (his recent finger fracture after being hit by a pitch three times in a series). Bryant has earned labels like “injury-prone” or “snake-bitten,” but, this wasn’t always the case.
During his time with the Chicago Cubs and briefly the San Francisco Giants, Bryant wasn’t particularly known for being injured. In fact, he had never played less than 100 games in a season and had only spent time on the injured list during two seasons. Bryant played over 150 games in each of his first three seasons with the Cubs. In 2018 Bryant experienced his first major injury, appearing in 102 games while dealing with lingering left shoulder inflammation. He was technically on the injured list twice, but was only activated for a brief period of time between those stints.
Bryant rebounded in 2019 with an All-Star season during which he appeared in 147 games, but hit the injury list again in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. In the truncated 60-game season, he played in just 34 while dealing with sprain in his left ring finger. However, Bryant rebounded again in 2021 with another All-Star campaign over 144 games.
In 2022 Bryant arrived in Colorado, the crown-jewel of general manager Bill Schmidt’s first real offseason in the position. He promised to help turn a moribund Rockies around and boldly bragged that he had “never played on a losing team in the big leagues” and didn’t intend to do that in the Mile High City. He played in just 42 games as the Rockies limped to a 68-94 finish. In 2023 he’s played in just 68 games so far and the Rockies are well on their way to the first 100 or more loss season in franchise history.
While Kris Bryant’s first two season’s have definitely not gone as planned, not all hope is lost. When Bryant has been on the field during the 2022 and 2023 seasons he has provided value with his bat. Before coming to Colorado Bryant had a career batting line of .278/.376/.504 with an OPS+ of 132. With the Rockies over his 109 games he’s slashing .275/.355/.423 with an OPS+ of 104 prior to yesterday’s series finale against the Cubs. While there is definitely a decline, it isn’t as severe as one would think. Lack of playing time due to injury can also delay finding a rhythm at the plate, which is surely a factor as well.
Bryant has also found more of his power stroke during this second season with the Rockies. In 68 games he has hit 10 home runs, the fifth most on the team despite playing roughly half the games team leader Ryan McMahon has at 139. Bryant has hit at least 20 home runs in every full season he has played. The power is obviously still there and a healthy Bryant could easily pass 20 home runs again. FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections for 2024 and 2025 predict solid production from Bryant over the next two seasons, even if his best years might be behind him. He could even outperform these projections as long as he can stay on the field.
Kris Bryant FanGraphs ZiPS Projections: 2024-2025
If Kris Bryant can remain even moderately healthy for the next few seasons, his contract will feel less like a burden. More importantly, the veteran World Series champion could provide some extremely important leadership to a young team that’s getting younger. Whomever manages the 2024 Rockies will need to be flexible with building the lineup so that Bryant—who will likely play more first base and as the designated hitter in the future—isn’t blocking young guns from playing time. If that can be done successfully, there is no reason why Kris Bryant can’t help lead a young Rockies team out of their losing quagmire and to a brighter future.
★ ★ ★
MLB Pipeline gurus Sam Dykstra, Jonathan Mayo, and Jim Callis explore their wish list for the rapidly approaching 2023 Arizona Fall League. From the Rockies they would like to see both Adael Amador and Yanquiel Fernandez play in the desert. For Fernandez especially an extra trip to Arizona might help him prepare for a return to the Hartford Yard Goats in 2024, as well as an inevitable Triple-A promotion or even a potential big league debut.
Daniel Bard has remained consistent with throwing bullpen sessions and could potentially be activated prior to the end of the season. The right-handed veteran has struggled in 2023 and landed on the IL due to right forearm fatigue. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Ryan Feltner has completed three rehab starts: one with the High-A Spokane Indians and two with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. Feltner is expected to make one more rehab start with the Isotopes before a decision is made on if he will return to the big league roster before the season ends.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
Outfielders Jameson Hannah and Jimmy Herron enjoyed multi-hit days at the dish, with Herron going 3-for-5 and Hannah going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Coco Montes and Wynton Bernard both had 2-for-5 games, while Daniel Montaño had just one hit but walked twice and drove in two of the Isotopes’ four runs. Starting pitcher Noah Davis had a strong seven inning game in which he gave up just two earned runs on six hits, striking out three batters. Riley Pint and Tommy Doyle both turned in scoreless innings of work with Doyle striking out two batters and earning the save. With this win, the playoffs are still in sight for the Isotopes at 3.5 games back of the Round Rock Express for the division lead.
Daniel Montaño singles home two runs to give us the lead once again!— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) September 13, 2023
T5: Isotopes 4, Chihuahuas 2 pic.twitter.com/FaMFYF5We1
It was a tough day for the Yard Goats pitching staff as starter Case Williams and relievers Nick Garcia and Alec Barger combined for 15 runs (14 earned) through the first five innings of the blowout. Williams lasted just 2 2⁄3 frames and allowed seven runs on five hits—including a home run—with three walks. Jordan Beck provided some fireworks on offense, going 2-for-3 with a double and his 25th home run of the season. Kyle Datres also hit a round-tripper, as did Grant Lavigne. Lavigne went 2-for-4 and scored twice.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!