Kris Bryant Has NL’s Highest WAR Projection for 2019
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: projections, schmrojections. And even those among you who aren’t completely dismissive of computer models like Steamer — which is viewed as both conservative and accurate by those who track such things — may not put much stock in what is being churned out in mid-December. But in case you hadn’t noticed, there isn’t a whole lot else to focus on.
So I was intrigued when MLB.com’s Mike Petriello tweeted that Steamer projects Mike Trout to accumulate 9.3 fWAR in 2019. To put that in perspective, there have only been 108 individual seasons of 9.3 fWAR or greater in MLB history (15,309 total qualified seasons). Trout already has five of them. Babe Ruth had 10, Rogers Hornsby eight, and Ted Williams seven, just in case you were interested.
Mike Trout is projected by Steamer to have a 9.3 WAR 2019 (https://t.co/rL7iXOelzP)
Projections are usually conservative for lots of reasons. This one says that a very reasonable outcome is "one of the greatest years in history." Sounds right to me. pic.twitter.com/AI8Sj7HSk5
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) December 17, 2018
And while Kris Bryant isn’t expected to have anywhere near that kind of historic production, he is looked upon very kindly by Steamer. In fact, Bryant’s 5.8 fWAR projection stands as the highest in the National League and is tied for fourth in MLB. And what’s really wild is that it would still represent a “worse” season than any of his first three.
Bryant has been hard at work this offseason to regain that form after faltering in 2018 as the result of a mid-May shoulder injury that cost him time and forced an overhaul of his trademark long swing. He’s gotten back to that familiar move, however, and is working in the batting cage several days a week with no discomfort. He’s also attacking a strength and conditioning program with more intensity than ever, prompting Cubs Insider to jump the market on “best shape of his life” claims.
It’s admittedly cliché to talk about how hard a guy is working out over the winter, but that doesn’t make it less true. And for someone like Bryant, who’s never really experienced struggles like what he went through this past season, there’s real impetus to turn up the volume. Not only are the Cubs going to lean on his improved play, but he’s got some ground to make up when it comes to his future earning potential.
If Steamer and plain ol’ common sense hold true, that $200 million extension Bryant reportedly turned down is going to look like a bargain after next season.