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Levine: Even After MVP Year, Cubs' Kris Bryant Eyes Improved Plate Approach

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant believes he has work to do at the plate to improve his game, even after his MVP season.

That Bryant would think that comes as little surprise to those who know him well, as he has always challenged himself, often with the help of and an extra push from his father, Mike. Presently, Bryant is focusing on improving his plate approach to stay one step ahead of the pitchers he sees every day.

"Driving the ball to the opposite field is the choice that Kris is making," Cubs hitting coach John Mallee said. "The approach is not anything mechanical. It is about letting the ball travel and hitting through the ball to the opposite field."

Bryant will use that mindset as pitchers adjust to him.

"I want to get back to hitting the ball to right field," Bryant said. "In the minor leagues that was where most of my power was, in right center. I did a lot of research this offseason seeing where I am pitched to. I have been pitched inside so often. I used that to a point where I pulled the ball great this past season. I am sure guys will pitch me different this year. They might start to pitch me on the other side of the plate. That is how they tried to work me in the minor leagues. A lot of the pitchers threw away from me. Now I want to do what I did so well in the minors."

Bryant hit .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs last season. His game has grown by leaps and bounds since his big league debut in 2015. Using metrics and video is a part of his own personal preparation system.

"You have to pick the right numbers to concentrate on," said Bryant about metrics usage. "You want to look at numbers that only lead to a positive result, in positive changes for yourself. I don't like to dwell on numbers too much. That said, if the numbers are in your face and you're not using them to get better, you are only failing yourself. The numbers I liked best was that we won three games in a row 17 times last year, and we made it 18 in the World Series."

Bryant has the best WAR (13.6) of any player in big league history after two seasons. Now, he's looking forward to the challenge of being the hunted.

"It goes back to (2015) and having that success that others did not expect," Bryant said. "We kind of surprised people. Going into 2016, we already had the target on our back. We are not going to change anything. We learned a lot along the way. 2017 will be no different. Hopefully we are the team to beat. We certainly feel that way. We will go with that mentality and play our hearts out."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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