Jackie Bradley Improving Offensively

Jackie Bradley improving offensively has been a very positive sign as the Boston Red Sox enter the second month of the 2016 season. Bradley has been susceptible to criticism surrounding his offensive game throughout his young career. In 2014, he hit below the Mendoza line, with a .198 batting average in 423 at bats. 2015 was a career year for Bradley, finishing with a .249 batting average. One typically wouldn’t consider that Jackie Bradley improvinga career season, but for Bradley, it certainly was. Coming into the 2016 season there were still question marks surrounding Bradley’s offensive production. Was his 2015 season just a fluke or was it his coming out party?

After the first month of the 2016 season, the answer to that question reflects the latter. In fact, he seems to be getting even better as he sees more at bats and his true coming out party may still be ahead. Bradley hit .272 in the first month of the year, including a clutch game tying double off the monster against Masahiro Tanaka this past weekend in a series that the Sox swept against the New York Yankees.

Jackie Bradley Improving: What’s next?

Bradley’s walk rate has been inconsistent. He has been above the major league average in walk rating two of the past three seasons and is below the major league average so far this season, walking just 6.5 percent of the time. Hitting out of the nine spot in the order, drawing walks is ultra important to set up lead off man Mookie Betts with a favorable position at the plate. If Bradley draws more walks, he will set up more run scoring opportunities for one of the game’s best young hitters in Betts. Betts provides more power than Bradley, offering some of the quickest hands in the game today. While Betts has shown more power than Bradley up to this point in their careers, last year’s interim manager and Red Sox bench coach, Torey Luvullo, believes Bradley can turn into a 20-30 homer guy at the big league level.

When interviewed by the Boston Globe’s Jason Mastrodonato last season, Luvollo said “What Jackie’s showing us right now tells me he can hit 20 to 30 home runs. Mookie’s right at 15 to 20. Rusney with a full season could hit 15 to 20, as well. For me, it’s about the production and their ability to produce runs and create runs. The home runs are a product of good swings, and they’re thrown, not hit — taking advantage of mistakes.” Those are some very high expectations for a player that hit just .198 two years ago. I see Bradley as a guy who will hit .270 with 15 homers and 70 RBI’s at his peak. Clearly the belief is there in the clubhouse for Bradley becoming a force at this level. Will he fulfill their belief? These next couple seasons will answer that. 

Still just 26 years of age, Bradley is entering his prime years as a baseball player. These improvements have been a welcoming sign for both the team and Bradley’s future as a major league player. The question with Bradley is no longer whether or not he can hit major league pitching, but rather how much better he can get at doing so. This year will be a big year for Bradley as he is eligible for arbitration next season. An impressive season will enable him to demand more money from the team in the off-season. Bradley has earned the respect defensively and it is time for fans to start respecting him offensively as well. However, don’t be expecting 30 homers from this guy anytime soon.

Jackie Bradley Jr. Hitting Well in Pawtucket

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Although it is only seven games into the season, something seems a little bit different about PawSox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. this season— he is hitting well.
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Starting off this season in the Minors for the first time since 2012, the outfielder is swinging a hot bat, regardless of the sample size. To date, he has 35 at-bats on the year and has collected 13 hits (.371 average) with four doubles and a jackie bradley jr.walk. He leads the team in total bases with 17.

Sure, this is based off of a small sampling, but any signs of life from Bradley at the plate could pay off in a huge manner for the Red Sox this season. Defensively, he probably should have won the Gold Glove last year, but at the plate he had quite the slump in the summer months.
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With Rusney Castillo day to day, the right-handed Bradley—who hits lefty—could find himself with a huge advantage granted that the only thing Castillo has yet to do is play on an every day basis. If Bradley is able to keep stringing hits together like his early scouting reports indicated, he could leave the Boston Red Sox with some tough decisions to make.

The Red Sox will need to see more than eight games from Bradley before they call him up given that he is a lifetime .196 hitter in 164 big league games. If he continues to do what he is doing, or close to it for a month or so, and Castillo cannot keep up, then Bradley might just force his way up to Boston.
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Of course injuries could help Bradley’s case as a call-up as well, but it seems unlikely that they will call him up to do anything less than play on an everyday basis. After all, he still has a few more days before he turns 25.