Let me start by admitting that I have not been a very vocal supporter of Jackie Bradley Jr, in fact I’ve kind of hated him. It was nothing personal, it was just that I wanted him to succeed so badly and time and time again he failed.
Even before this season I had given up on him, but I am glad to say that he has begun to prove me wrong. The past week has been by far Bradley Jr’s best as a pro, and he has really come into his own as a big league player.
He has earned a spot in the daily lineup, with both dazzling plays in the field and surprisingly excellent hitting at the plate. This month Bradley has been absolutely sensational. In August, Bradley has gone 16 for 45 with 14 runs batted in and three home runs.
It seems as though he has changed overnight, and suddenly he can hit now. I am not quite sure how this happened, but I’m not complaining.
What I truly admire about Jackie Bradley’s sudden emergence is that, through all of his bad times, the front office and the coaching staff remained patient with him and now it is paying off. Often this organization tends to give up quickly on young prospects who do not produce. For whatever reason they decided that they liked Bradley and now it is paying off.
Jackie Bradley could have been shipped out at any time, but thankfully the organization decided to hold onto him, and good for Bradley to make the most of what could be his last opportunity with the Sox.
Bradley most likely demonstrated his value by making circus like catches time and time again. I’ve criticized Bradley for what he has done at the plate, but never have a said a negative word about his talents on defense.
While he has not logged an immense amount of innings in the field, he is arguably one of the best outfielders in Major League Baseball. In his short career he has managed to post a sensational fielding percentage of .993 and in the 2014 season he had an insane 26 assists.
Fielding wise, he is on the same level as the Trouts and the McCutchins of the league, but his consistency at the plate remains to be seen.
While the past week has been remarkable for Jackie at the plate, I am anxious to see if he can keep it up and ride this wave to the end of the season. I feel as though he will, and I will admit that while I have not noticed anything machinacly different with his swing, I will say that he seems much more comfortable at the plate.
It looks as though he has finally learned to just relax and, in a way, zone out. Before he was trying far too hard to make contact and in turn would often end up striking out. Now he simply waits for his pitch, and when it comes he hits it. Seems simple, but it works.
He has absolutely matured as a baseball player this year, and I can only imagine that he will only improve more and more. He is a young player, and at this point in his career, time is on his side.
As this season progresses, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Red Sox will not make the playoffs, Bradley should be a daily starter in the outfield. It will be key to see what Bradley does with this opportunity, as he is not just playing for this season, but next season as well. If Bradley continues to succeed, as he is doing now, it will be guaranteed that he will be a starting outfielder next season.
It is in these late months that young players can really grow and find their place within the team. This is a great chance for Jackie Bradley to showcase his abilities to an ornery fan base, and win over the crowd. I am hopeful that he can do this, after all, in just a little over a week he has turned me to a believer.
Jackie Bradley Jr is truly a remarkable baseball talent, and I am confident that he will only continue to grow as a player, and mature as a hitter.
By Jake Cianci