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Kris Bryant called up: Why we care so much

Kris Bryant is heading to majors and we just can't look away.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Bryant got the call. We all knew it was going to happen like this as soon as the Cubs failed to add him to the 40-man roster last summer. There was no logical way for the Cubs to call up Bryant any sooner without a contract extension and Scott Boras isn't exactly the kind of agent who lets his clients sign super team-friendly deals before taking a major league at bat. Especially players who got massive signing bonuses and are already financially secure for life. It was always going to happen like this.

So why do we care so much about the most easily telegraphed baseball moment of the last decade? That's a good question.

A few weeks ago, Baseball Prospectus had Clayton Kershaw day at their site and unveiled like eighty posts about the left-handed ace that covered his game from every angle. It was amazing and as the editor of a competitor, I was pretty jealous that we didn't think of the idea first. In fact, a former BtBS writer, Jeff Long, pitched the idea at BP, pouring even more salt in the wound.

The idea of attacking the same story from many angles appealed to our staff and we wanted to emulate it. Doing the same thing about Mike Trout felt like cheating (and also like a normal Tuesday), so we started to wonder how we could get in on the action.

Enter Kris Bryant. A single story that's fascinating from so many angles. So a hat tip to BP and a big thank you to our writers who ran with the idea when we pitched it. If you look around the site today, you'll see stories about the morality of the service time issue, his projections, his height, and his potential downfall. We hope you enjoy.

But it's worth taking a second to sit back and really consider why we care so much about Kris Bryant. Why is this prospect, at this moment, so interesting?

I think there are three key components. First, Kris Bryant is the Cubs savior. I know that's melodramatic, but this is especially interesting because it's the Cubs. A century of losing is meeting a franchise player as the whole organization is on the rise.

Second, Bryant is the center of gravity around which a lot of labor-moral-philosophical questions revolve. You're dealing with the letter of the law-spirit of the rule issue with the service time manipulation and labor versus management. But you're also looking right into the heart of the MLBPA's (and all unions') flaw, which is that they sacrifice the earnings of the youthful members for the betterment of the seniors. And beyond that, this is really a great example of the present versus future value question that so many debate.

Finally, Kris Bryant is the first post-Trout prospect. Obviously, I don't mean that literally, but he's the first prospect to arrive in the show since Mike Trout changed everything forever. Trout extended the boundaries of what we thought was possible, and now every single top prospect has to carry that load. Bryant is the first guy to show up who actually has the ability to resemble Trout's impact. He's not a 10 win player, but he could really be a superstar.

I think most importantly, we care about the Kris Bryant's call up because we're all giant hope-filled lunatics and Kris Bryant is just so easy to dream on. He's destroyed the minor leagues and he could bring power back to a league that's lost it. Every prospect's debut is an event these days because sports fans, despite their somewhat frightening levels of anger, believe in things. Until a player fails, we believe in their ability to hit like Bonds and field like Mays. Until proven otherwise, anybody can be somebody. And after Trout shook up the rules, our brains are searching for the next one.

In all likelihood, Bryant winds up being a good, not great player who has a very nice career. He'll make plenty of money and he'll make some All-Star teams. It'll be great. Set aside the other interesting little angles about Bryant's situation and sit back and consider Bryant the symbol and he ceiling. He's the future until he isn't and that all starts today.


Neil Weinberg is the Managing Editor at Beyond The Box Score, the Site Educator at FanGraphs, and writes enthusiastically at New English D.