Jake Arrieta is going to be fuming over what happened to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
The Phillies were in Chicago taking on the Cubs at Wrigley Field and trailing 1-0 when Anthony Rizzo walked. Kris Bryant was on first and was running on the pitch, so the Phillies threw down to second. Realizing that there was a defensive shift on and nobody was covering third, a heads-up Bryant decided to take the extra base.
Both Bryant and Rizzo scored that inning as the Cubs added two more runs that inning to extend their lead to 3-0.
So why would Arrieta be upset? The Phillies pitcher was critical of his team over the weekend and specifically complained about their defensive shifts. Bryant certainly burned them in this case.
For most teams, we’re a quarter of the way through the Major League Baseball season, and right about at the point that teams can begin assessing what their prospects are. It’s also a point where we can review performances to date and look at who’s struggling and who’s starring for each team. Here, we’re going to be focusing on the players who have led their teams, no matter how the club is doing in the grand scheme of things.
Here is the best player for each MLB team so far in 2018.
Arizona Diamondbacks — A.J. Pollock, OF
A couple of pitchers have a case here, but in a year where the Arizona offense has been surprisingly underwhelming, Pollock has carried them. The outfielder is hitting .293 with 11 home runs and 10 doubles, easily pacing the team in OPS. Unfortunately he is expected to miss 4-8 weeks with a thumb injury, because he was working on a potential MVP season before that.
After nearly a weeklong absence, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is back in the Chicago Cubs’ lineup Saturday.
After getting hit in the head with a 96 MPH fastball last Sunday in Colorado, Bryant sat out four games, but he’s back in for the Cubs on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bryant was never diagnosed with a concussion after a pitch hit his helmet, but the Cubs handled their prized third baseman with an abundance of caution, and understandably so. He had been off to a fine start to 2018, hitting .319 so far this season.
Kris Bryant exited Sunday’s game after a pitch struck his batting helmet.
During the first inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, a pitch from German Marquez hit the head of the Cubs star.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon and members of the training staff immediately came out to check on Bryant, who was obviously shaken up. Bryant was removed from the game and replaced by David Bote.
Bryant has blossomed into one of baseball’s biggest stars. He is a two-time All-Star and won the National League MVP in 2016. In 18 games this season, Bryant is hitting .319 with two home runs and 11 RBI.
The MLB season gets underway on Thursday, so the focus will inevitably be on the playoff race and who is contending for a World Series title. There is another worthwhile subplot to watch out for, and that is the race for the Most Valuable Player award in each league.
There are many players who could win it, but we’ve narrowed it down to five big candidates in each league. Of course, there are other worthy candidates, and this certainly doesn’t rule out a dark horse candidate emerging and putting together a season worthy of award recognition.
Here are ten big preseason candidates for the Most Valuable Player awards in both the American and National League.
1) Mike Trout, Angels
Trout is pretty much atop this list in perpetuity. His fourth-place finish in last year’s MVP voting was actually his worst since catching on as a full-time player, but that had more to do with missed time due to injury than production. He still hit .306 with a career-best 1.071 OPS, plus 33 home runs. He’ll be heavily featured in the conversation as long as he stays healthy, even if the Angels aren’t a huge factor in the playoff race.
Kris Bryant already has a National League MVP in his trophy case, and now he might be able to add a Social Media MVP to it as well.
The Chicago Cubs third baseman recently took to Instagram to post a picture of himself hitting the golf course with professional golfer Scott Piercy.
Well, a user named “bighig44” took it upon himself to hop into the comments section of Bryant’s post and wrote, “Man, hit the weight room instead of the green, pretty boy. You could have the power of [Aaron] Judge or [Giancarlo] Stanton if you put on another 20lbs, and you’d still look pretty. What a waste.”
Unfortunately for him however, Bryant was not here for the slander and promptly hit back with an epic response.
Bryant replied “@bighig44 I think I’ve had a pretty decent 3 years all while looking pretty doing it. Save it pal.”
Indeed, Bryant, 25, has racked up a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP, two All-Star appearances, and a World Series ring, all in his first three seasons in the MLB. He has also averaged 31 home runs and 91 RBIs a year in that span. Thus, bighig44, who appears to have since deleted his comment, may need some aloe vera for the biggest burn we’ve seen on this side of Marcin Gortat.
Kris Bryant thinks you shouldn’t read too much into Bryce Harper’s Instagram.
The Chicago Cubs third baseman shrugged off Harper’s “Back2BackOneday” hashtag, attributing it to the Washington Nationals outfielder just having fun.
“Not much at all,” Bryant told 670 The Score’s Bernstein and Goff Show when asked how much the pair had discussed their futures. “With us coming to town to play them, I’m sure he was getting a bunch of questions about the whole story of him coming to play for the Cubs one day. And I don’t think he’s ever said it, that he wants to (play for the Cubs). I don’t think he’s ever mentioned it. I think he’s just having a whole lot of fun with it.
“We haven’t really talked about (the future). We haven’t played together since we were probably maybe 10 or 11. It would be a lot of fun for us if we were on the same team in the big leagues.”
The two are both from Las Vegas and played together as kids. There have even been some rumors that Harper wants to join up with Bryant on the Cubs when he becomes a free agent after 2018. It all seems far-fetched, and Bryant seems to be indicating that Harper is just being a troll.
Major League Baseball wants a Chicago Cubs slugger involved in the Home Run Derby.
According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the league is lobbying Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo to participate in the Derby in Miami.
So far, Stanton is the only confirmed participant in this year’s competition. Youngsters Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge have also received invitations.
Rizzo might be more realistic than Bryant, who just suffered a minor injury. The third baseman may want to avoid the contest in light of that.
There’s no word on whether Rizzo — who has 18 home runs in 2017 — would be interested in participating.
Kris Bryant may have been optimistic about avoiding a DL stint, but apparently the Chicago Cubs are a little more concerned about the status of their third baseman.
Bryant sprained his ankle on Wednesday, though the reigning MVP said Thursday he was feeling better and hopeful he would avoid the DL.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon apparently feels otherwise.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer, Maddon said Bryant is likely to be out through the weekend. The Cubs have an off day on Monday, meaning Bryant might not be back until Tuesday at the earliest. The team apparently is considering a DL stint for their slugger.
Jeimer Candelario started at third base in Bryant’s place on Thursday. He slugged his first career home run in Chicago’s 5-4 win over Washington.
Bryce Harper has heard the rumblings that he wants to sign with the Chicago Cubs when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season, and he has downplayed them anytime the subject comes up. However, he did nothing to cool the speculation with a social media post on Tuesday.
With the Cubs visiting the Nationals this week, Harper shared a photo on Instagram of himself with Kris Bryant and the two star players’ better halves. Harper and Bryant both grew up in Las Vegas and were on the same Little League Team. Check out the hashtag:
“Just two Vegas boys living out our dream with the ones we love! This is what it’s all about..What a time to be alive #MLB #702 #Back2BackOneDay,” Harper wrote.
Harper is smart enough to know that the hashtag #Back2BackOneDay is going to get people talking. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily mean Harper wants to sign with the Cubs. He could just be hoping that he and Bryant, who are 24 and 25 respectively, end up on the same team at some point in what should be two very lengthy and successful MLB careers.
It’s human nature for Harper to want to play with his buddy, but even he probably doesn’t know where he’ll end up playing in 2019. With the kind of money he is expected to make if he hits the free agent market, there are only a few teams that could afford signing him. Bryant is under team control with the Cubs through 2021, but he could actually end up being one of the reasons Chicago can’t afford to sign Harper.
H/T Hardball Talk