What to do with Jackie Bradley Jr.

jbjAfter finishing the 2014 season hitting below the Mendoza Line, it appears as though Jackie Bradley Jr. will not be starting in center field for the Boston Red Sox season.

Yes, he is the best defensive center fielder in the game and yes, he finished the year hitting .198 and yes, this was his second shot to prove his worth.
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Still though, his 2.0 WAR on defense, committing just one error in 125 games with a position-leading 13 outfield assists while turning eight double plays, makes it hard to give up on him—yet.

Turning 25 years old next year, the lifetime .196 hitting in 479 big league at-bats has made his tragic flaw clear—he struggles against big league pitching.

Regardless, Bradley is an above-average base runner with good instincts in the base paths meaning he could definitely steal double digit bases in a year. Not only this, but he has the makeup of a solid pinch-runner.
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His defense could make the difference late in the game when Boston has a small lead, making him the ideal defensive replacement. Able to cover a great deal of range while owning a cannon of an arm, he has the versatility to play all three outfield spots, making him an even more appealing option.

If he does indeed need to start, he needs to bat ninth. Hitting a career .218/.288/.331 as a number nine hitter in over 300 at-bats, Bradley has made it clear this is where he is most comfortable hitting. Not to mention he would have to hit less in this slot as well.
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In a game were versatility plays dividends, perhaps Bradley could serve a valuable role as a bench player. He has the makeup of a defensive replacement as well as a pinch runner, making him an appealing option to any team.

A big bonus would be if he could get his bat to come around. He was hitting about .230 before he hit a major slump. If he could consistently hit .230 and play flawless defense, there is no doubt he could start at the big league level.

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