As if you needed further evidence that the humanoid mass of sublime awesomeness known as Kris Bryant is really good at baseball, the folks at Baseball Reference provided a fresh nugget of statistical wonderment Wednesday afternoon.
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) August 24, 2016
While there are definitely a few unexpected names on here (David Eckstein?), the list of highest bWAR accumulated through a player’s first two seasons contains a few all-timers. It should be noted that all four players currently ahead of Bryant on this list are in the Hall of Fame and that the Cubs sophomore is one of only two in the top 10 to have debuted in the last eight years. For what it’s worth, more than half of the top 25 came from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.
Seeing Kris Bryant listed so highly among such elite company shouldn’t come as a surprise, at least not to those of you who’ve been following his career arc closely. At the conclusion of his sterling rookie campaign, I wrote that Bryant had posted the highest fWAR (as calculated by FanGraphs) ever by a Cubs rookie and the 14th-highest in MLB history. He’s collected player-of-the-year awards at every level of organized baseball and appears to have a firm grasp on the NL MVP at this point, so you’d expect his combined two-year WAR total to be high.
Still, though, top 5 all-time? BRef lists Bryant’s 2015 WAR total as 5.9, a mark that took him 151 games to reach. He’s already at 6.2 this season in only 122 games played, which means there’s room to push his season and career totals significantly higher. For the sake of argument, let’s just assume he only plays 151 games in 2016 as well. Based on his per-game WAR, Bryant would add another 1.5 wins to his current mark, for a two-year total of 13.6 bWAR.[beautifulquote align=”right”]That would make Bryant the all-time leader in WAR accumulated over the first two years of a career.[/beautifulquote]
Hmmm, that’s, wait. Let me just scroll back up and…yep, that would make Bryant the all-time leader in WAR accumulated over the first two years of a career. While it’s nothing new to say that Kris Bryant is really, really good, it doesn’t stop me from being amazed when the numbers show us once again just how good he is.
And here’s the really scary part: he’s still getting better. We’re looking at a player posting historical numbers despite having not yet realized his full potential. Wow. Then you see that he’s played at least 26 innings at each of four different positions for a team that’s playing under some pretty hefty expectations and that’s gotten more than a little publicity and the numbers look even better.
Or maybe that’s just me. Past results are by no means a guarantee of future performance, but I’m not about to be pumping the brakes on this kid anytime soon. To the contrary, I’m gonna punch the throttle and drive this thing like I stole it. Anyone wanna come along for the ride?
After going 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored in the finale in San Diego, Bryant is up to 12.2 bWAR and is tied for 4th on the all-time list above.