Jackie Bradley Jr has no doubt been a topic of conversation among Red Sox fans over the last few years. His tremendous defense in the outfield and roller coaster-type offense has driven most people to question the type of player that he could eventually be. With the level of defense he provides in the outfield, many fans would excuse his struggles at the plate as long as he keeps hosing down runners from the warning track. But what if we didn't have to settle?
Jackie Bradley Jr. made his 2015 debut in May where he appeared in 6 games. Throughout those games, Bradley Jr. made 11 plate appearances with 0 hits and 4 strikeouts. A rough debut to say the least. Throughout June and July, Bradley Jr. improved slightly, but still wasn't convincing people he was an offensive threat. He had 29 at bats amassing 5 hits for a .172 average.
If I showed you Bradley Jr.'s numbers through the first 4 months of the season compared to the 5th month, you would need to double check that it was the same player. During the month of August, Bradley Jr. played in 26 games, going 28-79 for an average of .354. Through those 79 at bats, he hit 9 doubles, 3 triples and 5 homeruns. So, what made the difference?
August was the month in which Farrell had his hernia surgery, which we later found out led to his diagnosis of stage 1 Lymphoma. During his medical leave, Torey Lovullo took over as interim manager, and it made all the difference in the world for the Red Sox, and especially to Jackie Bradley Jr. Lovullo led the Red Sox to a 28-21 record (.571) and most importantly, had the patience to play the young guns, which was the change this team needed.
The start that Jackie Bradley Jr. is having this year, adds to the idea that he just needs playing time. In order for him to be successful, he just needs to keep making good plays, and keep hitting the ball hard to build his confidence. So far, the defense has been what we all know it to be, but JBJ also has 4 doubles, 2 triples and a homerun. If this theory is correct, these stats will only improve as the year goes on.
John Farrell has made some questionable decisions this season, but he definitely learned his lesson with Jackie Bradley. Farrell was a little reluctant to stay with the young kids last year and Lovullo proved that you need to stick with them in order for them to flourish. Last night, Farrell moved Bradley up a few spots in the line up to hit 6th behind Hanley Ramirez. Bradley responded to the move by hitting his 2nd triple of the year.
As I said before, many people would sacrifice offense for defense in the case of Bradley, but we may not have to settle if he gets the proper amount of playing time, and the manager has confidence in his abilities at the plate.
Many have discussed Bradley as being a piece in a blockbuster trade, and Dombrowski has been known to make moves that are painful for the fans. However, as time goes on and players develop, it's starting to look like the combination of JBJ and Mookie Betts in the outfield is the direction this team is going.
By Matt Watts