6:56pm: Cubs star Kris Bryant exited tonight’s game against the Mets after being hit on the hand by a Taijuan Walker pitch in the first inning, according to reporters. Patrick Wisdom took his place at third base. ESPN’s Marly Rivera adds a few details. At present, the Cubs are describing the injury as a right hand contusion. We’ll update this post with further information on Bryant’s status when it becomes available.
Bryant, 29, ranks 12th in MLB with a 150 wRC+, though he’s slumped in the past few weeks. He’s logged at least 60 defensive innings at every outfield position, as well as the infield corners. It’s been a strong comeback season for Bryant thus far, and his stellar play is one reason the Cubs entered play tonight in a first-place tie with the Brewers. Given the Cubs’ estimated 43% chance at the playoffs, GM Jed Hoyer will have a hard time trading Bryant before the July 30th deadline – despite the slugger’s pending free agency.
If you’re thinking MLB hitters are being hit by pitches more than ever lately, you’re right. Dating back to 1920, batters were never hit more frequently than they were in 2020: once per every 81 plate appearances. But the 2021 season, which has already gone on longer than the COVID-shortened campaign, is challenging that record at once per every 86 or so. We should see soon whether MLB’s enforcement of its foreign substances rule further increases HBPs, but the fact is they were already at an all-time high.