Polling Place: Do voters believe the Cubs’ Kris Bryant will keep building on his strong start?Steve Greenbergon April 24, 2021 at 5:00 pm

New York Mets v Chicago Cubs
Bryant is on fire for the Cubs. | Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A healthy Bryant is a comfortable Bryant, and a comfortable Bryant is … wait, where did all these skeptics and cynics come from?

Kris Bryant entered Saturday’s game against the Brewers with leads among all Cubs players in hits (20), extra-base hits (11), average (.313) and OPS (1.041). That, friends, is what’s known in the business as not stinking.

But will the good times last for a former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP whose stardom has dimmed over the last two-plus seasons — and whose contract with the Cubs is set to expire at season’s end? That question was front and center in this week’s “Polling Place,” your home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter.

“As long as he’s healthy, yes,” @TheBlogfines commented. “He’s always a star when healthy.”

That’s pretty much on the money.

“Not only is KB the best hitter on the Cubs when healthy,” @rljmb23 wrote, “he’s the most valuable offensive player in the National League when so.”

That might be a bit of an overstatement.

We also asked about White Sox sensation Yermin Mercedes and — try to stay awake during this last part — NL pitchers batting for themselves again. On to the polls:

Poll No. 1: The Cubs’ Kris Bryant is off to a strong start. Will he keep it up?

Upshot: A healthy Bryant is a comfortable Bryant, and a comfortable Bryant is … wait, where did all these skeptics and cynics come from? It seems some have made up their minds that Bryant is soft, injury prone, un-cutch, unhappy or an unflattering combination thereof. But there are still others who want to give him a full, 162-game chance before sizing him up — and the results could be mighty impressive.

Poll No. 2: White Sox DH Yermin Mercedes is hitting close to .400 and slugging well over 1.000. Who is this guy?

Upshot: At 28, he’s no kid. At 5-11, 250, he’s no Barishnykov. Nowhere near the top of MLB Pipeline’s Sox prospect rankings, he might fade into the background or even disappear. But — man — has it been fun to watch him so far. That swing, that smile, that fearlessness after taking such a long road to the big leagues? As @chi73girl put it, “He’s worked too hard to be a one-shot wonder.”

Poll No. 3: If you ruled baseball, would National League pitchers keep taking their turns at bat in 2022 and beyond?

Upshot: “If you’d rather watch a pitcher hit instead of a hitter hit,” @MSMS247 offered, “then you’re an idiot.” Yeah, well, maybe some of us like the strategic levers that must be pulled when the pitcher is in the lineup. Maybe some of us appreciate the quick at-bats that keep some of these interminable games moving. Maybe some of us don’t like change, are old and cranky and … oh, never mind.

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