Now that Kris Bryant is finally here at Clark and Addison, he has far more resources at his disposal than he had while working his way through the minor leagues or at the University of San Diego.
There are hours of video on every pitcher he’ll face. The scouting reports on a guy like Andrew Casher, the former Cubs right-hander who’s starting Sunday for the Padres, are extensively detailed. Anyone with a smartphone can go to FanGraphs and pull up pitch selection percentages and strike zone heat maps.
Manager Joe Maddon cautioned against giving major league greenhorns like Bryant too much information, though, saying all a hitter like him needs is a “nugget or two” every now and then.
“I don’t think the information coming to the hitters really benefits hitters a whole lot whether it’s video, data, audio, whatever,” Maddon said. “There are so few things you can tell a hitter. Approach wise, maybe get them to narrow their focus, keep their fastball swing loaded as an example. But all of this wonderful information available to the hitters, I think really doesn’t help them a whole lot.”
Bryant said he likes having more video to watch to give him a better idea of what he might face in a certain count. But he's limiting his video watching to just opposing pitchers.
“I don’t like to watch my at bats,” Bryant said. “I kinda go over them in my head, but when you start over-analyzing your video you’re thinking about everything you’re doing wrong with your swing when half the time it’s not really your swing, it’s what you’re swinging at and what you’re thinking up there. I like to see what the pitcher throws and go with it from there.”
Bryant has already showcased his resiliency at the major league level, following up a three-strikeout debut with two hits and three walks in six plate appearances against San Diego on Saturday. There are plenty of opportunities for over-analysis in the major leagues, but all Bryant said he did was realize that he’d never see a fastball if he kept swinging at all the offspeed pitches thrown at him.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Kris Bryant jersey]
That wasn’t an intricate adjustment, which is exactly what Maddon hoped to see from his 23-year-old third baseman. The first-year Cubs manager is fine with veterans gathering and synthesizing information, though for him there is such thing as a young player having too much knowledge.
But information can become a problem for a rookie “Only if you give it to them,” Maddon smiled.
“Don’t give it to them. Don’t make it complicated. That’s the whole thing.”