Theres no doubt, Chicago fans love their teams. No matter the record, rain or shine (sometimes snow) we’re there to cheer for the home team. That is, as long as our credit card limit and beer intake will allow for.
When we watch Rizzo, Zobrist, or Sale take the field, what do you think other than when to get your beer refilled or how many hotdogs can you eat before the seventh-inning stretch. Does it ever cross your mind to think about their seasons success? Really think about it, can you anticipate Maddon’s move to bring in a new pitcher when a lefty steps up to the plate or know how Abreu hits behind in the count. Will he pull through for the Sox if he is put into a bind?
The truth is, fans are not expected to know these things because reporters, announcers and or other forms of media deliver us easy facts to memorize and bring up in the break-room.
Why is it ok to make the All-Star Game a popularity contest rather than a true reflection of the league’s best of the best. The way I see it is this, the Cubs will face the Red Sox with a few elites around the league there for support. While I am beyond thrilled for the Cubs and Chris Sale, I still can’t get over the facial expression my boyfriend’s dad made when I told him the All-Star Game results. It was like he could see the future, or just figured with a bigger city like Chicago, the chances were slim to have Nolan Arenado slide into the starting position.
As a resident of Colorado, its hard enough competing for the remote at the local bar, let alone listen to the backlash over the Cubs entire infield making the All-Star Game for the first time since 1969. I just can’t get away from it, every where I go I hear shade being thrown around by announcers, fans and even my friends about Arenado.
After what seems like a year of bitching, I figured I might as well do some digging and see who has had the better start of the season: Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado.
1. Season at a Glance
I started my research off like anyone else would, doing a broad search of the two players and see what caught my glance. The truth is, with all the shit talking I have heard at work, one would think Arenado would have had 65 HR, a .408 batting average with 100+ RBI, but that was not the case. When I first looking into the season from opening day until the last game of the first half for each player, the stats are almost identical, with Bryant edging out Arenado in a few categories and vice-versa.
My assumption behind these stats doesn’t justify Arenado getting the starting position. I figure all of Chicago did just the minimal amount of research or watched just enough of the Cubs to see those towering homers into the Wrigley Field bleachers. Based on that, fans voted countless times to see Bryant swing that bat for the second-season as an All-Star.
2. Month by Month
From there, I look at how each player started off the season and broke it down by hits, runs, HR and RBI. I am not going to get wordy with this one, because I think these stats speak louder than words.
Everybody knows that in order to be a good hitter, you have to react well under pressure. Wether that is bunting to advance the runner, successful hitting a sacrifice-fly or simply making contact with runners in scoring position. Both Bryant and Arenado
do hit very well under pressure, just like everything else, one edges out the other when you really break down the numbers.
While fielding is more cut and dry, either you made the play or you didn’t, these two still are hard to compare evenly. Arenado is the NL Gold Glove recipient for the last three seasons, he makes minimal errors and has a wide range of motion at third-base. He is well on his way towards his fourth Gold Glove award with one error and a .997 fielding percentage thus far. No doubt, Arenado is a great defensive player, almost a guarantee to get the out and make big plays under pressure.
Now the reason I hesitate to compare the two evenly at third-base is only because Bryant has played just about every position this season beside behind the plate and on the mound. As it brakes down, Bryant has been at 1B five times, 3B 55, SS once, LF 42, CF once and RF 10 times this season. With continued movement around the field, he proves to Maddon that he can be put into different positions in split second but also that he is a all-around All-Star. Not only does he excel at 3B, but anywhere for that matter. The only down side about Bryant moving so much reflects back on six errors at 3B and two in the outfield thus far. He has a .947 fielding percentage.
As with each category, is it more important to have a player in the All-Star Game that is all around player, or be the best at the position he was voted into?
At this point in my life, as a person and a die hard Chicago fan, it was hard to take a step back and look at the numbers, because more than anything else I wanted to go into work and give everyone the middle finger for doubting my Bryant. However, I see now how close the numbers are and how by just, and I mean just by the hair on my chin, Arenado by stats should have been the starting 3B.
I say this with a heavy heart, when I watch the All-Star Game tonight from the muted TV at work, I am going to focus on the Nationals winning as a unit rather than gloating over the Cubs entire infield starting.
When It comes down to it, wouldn’t we as fans want the best team out on the field? Not only setting up for a highly competitive game, but also ensuring the Cubs would have home field advantage for the upcoming World Series. But hey, that is above my pay grade.