A Kris Bryant What-If

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Bryant won't be called up to the major-league Cubs this year, said Theo Epstein. But what if...

News item, via Fred Mitchell in the Tribune:

"I don't foresee a scenario where he would be up this year," Cubs President Theo Epstein said before the Cubs beat the Pirates 6-3 Friday at Wrigley Field.

"I don't think it's the right thing to do for someone in his first full professional season, barring extraordinary circumstances both with respect to the player and what's going on with the big league club.

"I think it would be a tremendous accomplishment to dominate Double A the way he did the first half of the season and go to Triple A, continue his development, stay healthy all year, and be productive all year."

Let's play what-if, shall we?

Consider this admittedly very unlikely scenario:

The Cubs continue their good play of the last few weeks -- their 18-13 record is currently the best in the National League since May 16. Let's say on August 15 they find themselves three games out of the second wild-card spot, a couple of games over .500.

Meanwhile, Bryant has demolished Triple-A the same way he dominated Double-A. In 55 games (and about 225 plate appearances), he's hitting .350/.445/.660 with 20 home runs -- thus, 42 home runs in 123 minor-league games.

Luis Valbuena has continued hitting well and has taken over as the Cubs' starting second baseman. But this has left Mike Olt as the primary third baseman (Emilio Bonifacio has struggled to return from his oblique injury), and he has not hit well, continuing to strike out at a hefty pace, even while upping his big-league homer count to 15.

The Cubs have an unexpected chance at a wild card spot in this scenario. Given that, would you call up Bryant, as it seems he could crush the ball at the big-league level?

There's a recent precedent for doing something like this. In 2011, the Diamondbacks called up Paul Goldschmidt as they were vying for the N.L. West title, at a little earlier date (August 1). At the time of Goldschmidt's debut, Arizona was in second place, two games out of first. Goldschmidt hadn't played Triple-A at the time, but he did have about 500 more minor-league at-bats than Bryant would under this scenario. Goldschmidt hit .250/.333/.474 with eight home runs in 48 games (177 plate appearances) and the D'backs did win their division.

This is pretty much an academic exercise, given Theo's comments. On the other hand, note that he did say "barring extraordinary circumstances," and the ones I've described would be pretty extraordinary.

For the purpose of this exercise, let's assume management has put aside Super Two, an extra year of team control, etc. and has decided they want to go for that wild-card slot.

Under these conditions, would you recall Kris Bryant?

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