Wittenmyer: Why Bryant might get Hall pass with Rox deal


Hot take of the week: Kris Bryant’s mega-deal with the Rockies just opened his path to the Hall of Fame.

Talk about Rocky Mountain high, right?

Believe it or not, that’s a sober take that persisted through one or two second guesses and at least several minutes of intense research.

The premise boils down to this: A power hitter who already has a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, four All-Star appearances, the most coveted World Series ring in history and an .880 career OPS at an offensively neutral home ballpark just signed up to play his age 30 through 36 seasons in by far the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors.

Even with age regression, if he stays healthy it’s not unrealistic to think the former Cubs star could hit 30-plus homers most of those seasons and hit for higher average over the course of the contract — possibly even pushing his career OPS past .900.

Consider that as much as Coors Field is a homer haven, it also has a huge outfield that has helped such players as Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau win batting titles playing for the Rockies.

And the extreme home-road splits often created by the extreme hitting conditions there undoubtedly have been a factor in keeping Todd Helton out of the Hall of Fame and delaying Larry Walker’s election until his final year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot.

If Bryant takes advantage of the conditions to put up big numbers over the life of his $182 million contract, it’ll be harder to hold any splits against him as severely , considering what he did the first seven years of his career.

And what if he makes another four All-Star teams in the process — or even six? He might get a couple freebies out of the gate if he plays well early in the contract considering the Rockies figure to look like crap for a while, and every team gets at least one selection.

Sixty-nine players have 10 career All-Star appearances, and only 13 aren’t in the Hall of Fame — four because they’re active or haven’t been out of the game long enough, five with ties to performance-enhancing drugs, one Negro Leagues player who has had more limited opportunities than those others (Alex Radcliff, Double Duty’s brother), one ineligible (Pete Rose) and two who simply fell short in voting: Bill Freehan and Steve Garvey.

Speaking of 69, that’s also how many players have career .900 OPS marks — with only 28 outside the Hall, including seven active players, a slug of PED guys and another ineligible player (Shoeless Joe Jackson).

That’s not to say Bryant fans should be booking trips to Cooperstown just yet. But he assured his best chance — maybe even his only chance — by signing a long-term deal to play in Denver.

Bryant lands at Coors with an OPS already higher than former Rockies stars Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story.

With the next seven years to tee off at the best place to hit in baseball.

Who’s Rocky Mountain high now?

Maybe he just wasn’t into you

Hey, snap out of it! It’s time to get on with your life! Carlos Correa’s not going to call, not going to let you love him, and after going to Minnesota for a lousy three years, he probably didn’t deserve you.

For five months, the Cubs’ soulmate, according to Twitter, remained a North Side crush, an obsession Cubs fans couldn’t quit no matter how many shortstops they have in their system or how many times ownership and the front office signaled it was a dead-end relationship.

Maybe it’s time to move on. Maybe give somebody like Seiya Suzuki a chance. He seems like a nice guy, and he’s not afraid of a long-term commitment or expressing his feelings. Like he did Friday: “Mike Trout. I love you.”

Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with taking some alone time for a while.

Cold strategy

One of the most impressive parts of the Cubs’ successful recruiting of Suzuki, the star Japanese free agent outfielder, was the front office’s anticipation of every concern, right down to the weather in Chicago.

A story shared by Suzuki’s agent with reporters in Arizona described a moment during their dinner in Los Angeles last week, when Suzuki raised the issue of how cold it gets in Chicago early in the season — at which point team president Jed Hoyer provided charts showing a favorable comparison between Chicago and Suzuki’s Japanese home city of Hiroshima.

Then Suzuki traveled to Chicago the next day to see for himself before signing — and got an unseasonably warm day in March to tour Wrigley Field and see the city.

What a dirty trick.

It ain’t over till it’s over

Reporters are back in big-league clubhouses for the first time in two years, and everybody in baseball except Canada seems to be acting like it’s a post-COVID world. Except for maybe Cubs pitcher Tommy Nance, who quietly went back on the COVID-19-related injury list over the weekend (where he finished the 2021 season as part of the Cubs’ final-weekend outbreak).

Hope it’s more of a roster-numbers move related to contact-tracing than anything serious. But it should also serve as a reminder to everyone else of at least a couple of things: (1) The virus is still out there (and still mutating), and (2) masks aren’t just for catchers anymore.

On the record

It’s nice to see that some front office traditions never change, no matter how high-tech or nerd-based today’s operations have gotten.

Asked about possible contract extension talks this spring with Willson Contreras a few days ago, team president Jed Hoyer said: “Being candid, we always keep that stuff internal.” Makes you wonder what the non-candid answer is.

Not that Hoyer has anything on one of his predecessors, former Cubs GM Jim Hendry, who once responded to question with: “Off the record, I can’t talk about that.”

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Beer-drinking recommendation of the week: Goldwater Brewing Co. on North Scottsdale Road in Old Scottsdale. No less than the Cubs’ top press box wag in microbrew expertise endorses the family-owned establishment for postgame spring training suds. And if you’re staying a little farther east on your spring training trip, they have a second location. Tell them PBW sent you.

The $433 million question

How many people predicted the purged championship Core Four of Bryant, Javy Báez, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo would command a combined $433 million and 19 years worth of free agent contracts this winter? Maybe they weren’t so crazy to bet on themselves, after all.

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