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When you think of a superstar in sports, you might come up with bigger than life, untouchable, huge ego and very confident. If you think of a superstar in Major League Baseball (MLB), you think “I get my way”, very serious, and worried about stats. Who’s to say this is wrong for superstars to feel this way. Besides they are the best players on their teams right? Many stars have an obligation to perform on a high level and put the team on it’s back. Most managers try not to put more on the prolific players just because of all the pressure they deal with throughout the season. Thus, the superstar is treated a totally different and special way which is excepted in baseball.
Kris Bryant started his MLB career by turning heads in spring training in 2015. He led all players with nine home runs in spring training and was sent back to the minors which raised some controversy (but we won’t get into this). Bryant’s first year in the Major Leagues started slow but turned into a spectacular season. He made the All-Star team and help lead the Chicago Cubs to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with 26 homers and 99 RBI’s and the 2015 NL Rookie Of The Year Award.
Listed as a third baseman, he started 136 games at third, five games at right field, four in left field and one each at center field and first base. That’s great to have a rookie on the team where you can plug him in multiple positions when you need to. Now in his second year, Bryant has emerged into a superstar and a National League MVP candidate batting .284, 25 homers and 65 RBI’s in 95 games so far. Yet still, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is able to move the 2016 All-Star starter all over the field. He’s played every position except for second base and catcher.
It sounds great but most are missing the incredible story behind the story. Usually the very good players are expandable. These are the players that you can plug in when injuries or days off requires the manager to shuffle fielding. When is the last time you’ve witnessed a star baseball player move around the field while having a MVP season? His unselfishness is uncanny while he continues to laugh and be that joyful kid we fell in love with as a rookie. What’s more impressive is he’s gotten very good at every position. It gives Maddon the luxury to have options to start left hitters if facing a right hander or vice versa. Also when it comes to pinch hitting, he’s moved Bryant to three different positions in a single game.
Usually, a manager’s favorite player is that player who he can utilize the most and is an all-purpose guy rather than the high profile player. In this instance, Maddon’s favorite player is possibly the best player on the team which is Bryant. With him getting big hits in big moments, and making great plays at third, left or right field, shortstop and first base when the team is trying to maintain the lead is something we have never witnessed. So maybe is this what a Superstar is suppose to be, “Super” for his team. Able to do whatever the team needs and be great while doing it. That’s Kris Bryant.