Illustrating Kris Bryant’s Massive Improvement in Plate Coverage
It seems like we marvel at Kris Bryant’s growth as a hitter each season. Ever since the MVP debuted, he’s worked his butt off in order to make more contact and combat pitchers’ adjustments. We’ve talked about KB’s unprecedented improvement in contact rate, but what’s even more incredible is that more contact has translated to more hits in all parts of the zone.
For instance, the below figure shows Bryant’s BABIP over the last four seasons. You can see that he struggled on pitches low and away when he was a rookie, then steadily improved against those hard-to-hit pitches every season.
Despite being beaned in the head and dealing with chronic shoulder pain in 2018, Bryant actually improved his zone coverage to the point that pitchers basically couldn’t find a weak spot. See how the 2018 panel is all orange? That saturation means his balls in play had a much higher chance of falling for base hits than previous years.
You’ll also notice that there isn’t a huge red zone in the middle of the plate like in previous years. That might be due to the aforementioned shoulder injury, but he nevertheless recorded more base knocks than league average.
Bryant and his father/hitting coach, Mike Bryant, have worked diligently every offseason and it shows. I really don’t think I’ve seen a better all-around player than Kris Bryant in my time following the game and I can’t wait to see what additional improvements he makes this season.
Figures generated using the“CalledStrike package in R.