For about a month last year, Jackie Bradley Jr. was arguably the hottest hitting outfielder in Major League Baseball. Yeah, Mike Trout, he was hitting even better than you.
Those 26 games where he hit .354 and posted an 1.163 OPS were enough for the Red Sox: Bradley would be the starting center fielder for the Red Sox this season.
So far, the PG way to put it would be: same stuff, different year (see what I did there?). He’s hitting .222 with a .586 OPS in 16 games this season and he’s three-for-23 (.130 batting average) in the past week. Sure, he’s considered an elite defender, but he’s had his share of miscues this season and playing right next to another athletic outfielder in Mookie Betts makes it tough.
But the biggest question of Bradley still remains: can he hit major league pitching? Consider this: without August 2015 in the mix, Bradley is a .197 big league hitter in 675 at-bats with 60 walks and 211 strikeouts (31.26% K rate).
For those who value John Farrell’s opinion, remember that he bats Bradley in the bottom third of the lineup — typically eighth or ninth.
Remember when people were talking Bradley up to be the Red Sox starting left fielder in 2013? Yeah, how’d that one work out? He was far from big league ready then after hitting about .270 in double-A the year before.
Everyone seemed shocked when he could not hit big league pitching, so the Red Sox figured the next year they would just hand him the starting job. How’d that go?
2015 he had August and was handed the job for this season. But he was also handed the job in 2014 and that did not work out well for him.
In reality, Bradley is probably better than the .197 hitter he has been for much of his career. But if the Red Sox had any quality outfield options, then Bradley’s job might come into question.
Blake Swihart is going to try playing left field. Mookie Betts has experience in center field and Brock Holt has played right field. Hmm..