Last week I got started off with Joc Pederson to head up a small series focused on finding an up and coming player’s MLB doppelgänger or equivalency for those of you who like using big words without sounding like a gallon of phlegm is making its way through your vocal cords. This week I am making my way to the top of the prospect list as I attempt to identify 2015’s floor and ceiling as well as the long-term potential of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant.
Racking my brain, the first name that came to mind was Troy Glaus. Hopefully that didn’t make you get that scrunched face look like when your dad asks if you want to sit down and watch old episodes of M.A.S.H. You aren’t so young that you don’t remember Troy Glaus, right? What is the average age of a Fantasy Assembly reader anyway? We need to get a survey going, stat!
Other names that seemed to make sense are Evan Longoria, Pedro Alvarez, and Mark Trumbo. I have highlighted some key stats from specific seasons each of these possible doppelgangers posted during their careers to try to get a picture for where Kris Bryant is headed in 2015 and beyond.
Could Kris Bryant become the next Troy Glaus?
I almost forgot how good Troy Glaus was back when we all bravely made it through the Y2K fears. We were such technological novices back before there was such thing as an iphone. For the sub 20 year olds, the guy currently going about as strong as Troy Glaus once did is Giancarlo Stanton. So for the younger generation still popping zits that are just getting into fantasy baseball, Stanton’s stat line which just earned him enough money to buy the team he plays for is essentially the bar we are setting for Kris Bryant. The only difference of course is that Glaus was a third baseman, whereas Stanton roams the outfield. There have been rumors about Bryant possibly being transitioned to a corner outfield spot though, so maybe this “Glaus/Stanton/Bryant setting the bar high” triumvirate is the perfect line to draw in the sand for where Kris Bryant dreamers should set their hopes.
The Troy Glaus line featured above was just his second full MLB season. He would go on to post about five seasons with a stat line that came close to his career year of 2000. Major League Baseball was a different world back in 2000 though. There was no PED testing, no strike zone monitoring, no expanded strike zone, etc. Glaus is far from being the poster child of the PED ERA thanks to the shadows casted by the enlarged melon of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire’s back acne. However, Glaus did admit to some form of PED usage and that needs to be a factor to determine if Kris Bryant can reach this lofty bar set for him. For the sake of determining how this skews Bryant’s ability to get into the Troy Glaus range I will just assume Glaus was afforded some assistance in reaching the 2000 line above and Kris Bryant will not be afforded that extra chemical nudge.
As for the size of these two men, Glaus filled out to 6’5” and 240 pounds. Bryant already stands at 6’5” and 215 pounds. At just 23 years old to start the 2015 season, it’s safe to assume that Bryant still has some years to add bulk and fill out to something close to what Glaus eventually morphed into.
Statistically, when Glaus was at his best he was a 100 run, 100 RBI producer with 40 HR pop. Most seasons he could be expected to finish as a .250-.260 hitter. The .284 average featured in this year 2000 season from Glaus was his career best and I wouldn’t expect much more from Kris Bryant whenever he reaches his plateau. If Kris Bryant reaches his peak potential, Troy Glaus numbers will be within his reach. This is Bryant’s ceiling.
Could Kris Bryant settle in as a slightly underwhelming
yet steady performer such as Evan Longoria?
What Evan Longoria did in his inaugural 2008 season feels like a best case scenario for what Bryant could pull off in 2015 if allowed near a full season’s worth of MLB playing time. Because the pedigree for Bryant is so well thought of, there’s also a great possibility he could be a solid player and yet still fall short of expectations much as Evan Longoria seems to have done so far in his career. Is that really fair to Longoria? And would it really be all that bad if Bryant’s career ended up mirroring Longoria’s?
At his best, Longoria can reach 30+ HR, 95 + runs, and 100+ RBI, with a .260+ batting average. Longoria has played to that level at least twice in his career and would have come close in a couple other seasons had injuries not gotten in the way. That’s basically Adrian Beltre range with a little less batting average.
Bryant should be able to use his leverage a tad more in an attempt to drive balls out of the park. He has three inches on Longoria and might eventually fill out a tad more than the Rays’ corner man. Seeing as how Longoria topped out at 15 SBs in 2010, yet has not contributed double-digit stolen bases any other year is a good reminder that while Bryant swiped 15 bags between AA and AAA last year, speed is not likely to be a big part of his game either. Something between 5-10 SBs is a more reasonable expectation year to year for the Cubs’ rookie.
Perhaps the strongest link between these two players is their path to the big leagues. Longoria spent two full seasons tuning up his game in the minor leagues much as it appears Bryant will have done before he’s given the hot corner gig on Chicago’s north side. Longoria’s career is about where the bar of reasonable expectation should be set. Anything more would be a bonus, anything less and Bryant should be considered to have fallen short of expectations.
Could we have another Pedro Alvarez on our hands?
This might be a little too early to judge the career of Pedro Alvarez. So far his career has offered a glimpse of big time power and the troubles that can come with a guy who swings and misses far too often. His 2014 season actually featured a guy who cut his K% down 5% from one that appeared north of 30% during his 2011-2013 seasons. What’s interesting is that in order to cut down on his K%, some of Alvarez’s power had to be sacrificed. In 2013, Alvarez managed 36 HR in 614 PAs but had a 30.3% K-rate.
In his minor league time, Alvarez showed similar patience to that of what Bryant brought to us in his 2014 time on the farm. Major League pitchers are not going to walk Bryant as much as AA and AAA pitchers did unless he shows improved contact rates. For this exercise, Alvarez offers a very realistic look at the floor for Kris Bryant. If Bryant is held back until a May or June call up, this 2014 line from Pedro Alvarez could become the realistic rude awakening for the start of Kris Bryant’s career.
What if Bryant becomes a corner outfielder instead of a staple at the hot corner?
Third basemen tend to stay at the hot corner and if they move anywhere it’s usually across the diamond to first base. It was difficult to come up with a solid former power hitting third baseman who made the transition to the outfield so the best I could come up with was a recent first baseman that made the move. Enter the 6’4”, 235 pound Mark Trumbo. Like Troy Glaus, Trumbo is yet another player who represents the body type I expect Kris Bryant to morph into as he physically matures.
It seems like a real possibility the Cubs could stop their search for a corner hitting outfielder and simply move Kris Bryant out there to stay. They already have infield prospects Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Arismendy Alcantara, and Mike Olt, to go along with their current shortstop, Starlin Castro. If that is to occur it seems realistic that Mark Trumbo could be the doppelgänger of choice instead of Evan Longoria when it comes to pinning down where to set reasonable expectations for Kris Bryant.
Trumbo seems to have settled into a .230-.240 launching pad of a hitter when healthy. In 2013 and 2014, he did manage batting averages of .254 and .268 respectively. It would not shock me at all if Kris Bryant fluctuates year to year in the .230-.270 range either.
Building Kris Bryant’s Doppelganger:
The rookie chasers are not going to like reading this. With Kris Bryant’s swing and miss issues, he profiles as someone who will mirror Pedro Alvarez’s 2014 output this coming season. That is to say that major league pitchers will expose Kris Bryant sooner than later and it will be up to him to adjust. For 2015, Streamer sees Alvarez putting up a 65/26/75/6/.231 slash line in 561 PAs. That line prorated to whatever amount of PAs the Cubs allow Bryant to accumulate is about where I would set his bar of reasonable expectation this rookie season.
Despite his pedigree, Kris Bryant’s bat is not destined to turn into a rival for what we have seen out of mega stars like Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols in their prime. His bat is more likely to resemble that of something between what we see out of Evan Longoria and a healthy Mark Trumbo. At the peak of his career, Bryant seems destined to top out at around a 90/34/105/7/.260 slash line which will represent solid second to third round value for deeper formats (12-15 teams) if he remains at third base. If a move to the outfield is in his future, that stat line will represent solid fourth to fifth round value long-term.
I would really enjoy telling you that the next best thing destined to return early first round value is on the way in the form of Kris Bryant. While my opinion lends me to believe he will fall short of many people’s expectations, he should fill out and mature into a solid player and one you should be happy to own in dynasty formats. It feels like people may get carried away with his 2015 ADP that already sits at 104 overall in early NFBC drafts. That places him ahead of other hot corner bats such as Manny Machado and Pablo Sandoval. In redraft formats, it’s better to let the rookie chasers overpay for the services of Kris Bryant. In dynasty formats, go get him.
Kris Bryant’s 2015 Slash Line Projection:
64/24/75/8/.235 in 600 Plate Appearances (Prorate for a May or June call up)
Kris Bryant’s Projected ADP for Standard 5×5 Leagues: 105