This short gamer from Carrie Muskat of MLB.com has some quality quotes from both Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward about each other. Both delivered in a Cubs victory over the Dodgers back in August and it sparked Heyward to speak about Bryant’s work ethic and approach to the game for such a young player. Bryant, 24, leads the National League in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as of Sept. 7. He also talks about how the 26-year-old Heyward has inspired him as well.
“He doesn’t quit,” Heyward said of Bryant. “He doesn’t want to stop, and that’s special in the makeup of somebody young, and special in the makeup in a player in general. … You can talk about why he’s hitting the ball well, and he has a good approach. It’s that simple. He works his tail off every day to try and go out there and help us win. When you have that gift and that work ethic, a lot of good things can happen if you stay positive.”
“We all know what he can do at the plate,” Bryant said. “Everybody knows what he can do in the field. He’s a huge asset to this team. If it wasn’t for him getting it started there, we wouldn’t have won the game.
“It inspires me. It makes me want to be like him — always keeping your head up, always being a great teammate. I can’t say enough about him.”
One of the more fascinating themes surrounding the Chicago Cubs this season hasn’t been their dominance over the National League, but rather how versatile their roster is. At least for me anyways. Joel Sherman of the NY post chronicles that exact thing here. Manager Joe Maddon has never been afraid to go against common thought, spawning from his days with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs’ success with the constant rotation of players around the field has caught the league’s attention. The Yankees have begun shifting players around in their farm system.
Maddon has been a chess master, moving pieces all around the board. There were 21 players who had started at least 10 games at three different positions, and the Cubs had two (Bryant, Baez). Plus, in June they re-acquired Chris Coghlan, who is the only player to start at least 10 games at four positions (none of this includes DH and all stats were provided by Bob Waterman of Elias Sports Bureau).
And it does not end there. Contreras was promoted to play left, first and catch — the same trio expected for Schwarber. Zobrist, a Swiss Army knife during his career, has started at second, left and right. Baez has started at all four infield positions. Jason Heyward flips from right to center when needed. Heck, Maddon has used three pitchers in the outfield to exploit a platoon advantage with another reliever, but not lose the previous pitcher from the game. The athletic Travis Wood, in particular, is used in this manner.
ESPN ran this during a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast earlier this season where the Cubs hosted the Mariners. Kris Bryant discussed his approach to hitting with Jessica Mendoza. Bryant talked about his upswing, looking to hit the ball on the lower half, and how his goal since he was about 8 years has been to hit the ball in the air.