Defense Versus Offense in the Wild Card

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GET HIM A BALL. Kris Bryant may roam left field for the Cubs Wednesday night. (Connor McKnight/WGN Radio)

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I’ll be the first to admit that even as Kris Bryant was making headlines without having seen a pitch in the Big Leagues, I wondered if he could stay at third base.

After watching him start a gigantic double play and snag a liner out of the air against the Pirates Wednesday night, you might be wondering whether I’m any good at this baseball writing thing at all.

Let me be clear. My worries over Bryant staying at third were much, much more centered around his ability to stay there as he ages–not when he’s 23.

While the liner he snagged off the bat of Gregory Polanco was all flash and reaction, it showed perhaps the biggest asset a third baseman can have. Quicks. Pure unadulterated instinct and reaction.

I’m more impressed, however, by his pick to start the double play in the seventh inning. Jordy Mercer hit a sharp hopper to Byrant’s right. He stuck with it, didn’t let a short hop beat him, and with a clean throw over to second, started an around-the-horn double play the Cubs needed to get out of the inning.

That’s calm. That’s practiced. That’s smooth.

All year long, I’ve noticed that if there really is a deficiency in Bryant’s play at third, it’s in his throwing. He’s just not that accurate on the throw over to first. Often, he takes Anthony Rizzo up the line on routine plays. That’s livable, but unnecessary.

In the last two months, those throws were getting ironed out and had started to decrease in frequency. Wednesday against the Pirates, although it was a different throw, Bryant put it right on the money to help keep the sheet clean for his starter, Jake Arrieta.

Just another instance in how these Cubs Kids are coming along.

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