Jackie Bradley has provided us with one of the more impressive and fun months of baseball in a while. Before last night, Bradley had hit in 29 straight games, a story so big, that it became national news. However, after a controversial decision to hit him first, the streak would come to an end, just shy of 30 straight games.
JBJ has been known to be a very streaky hitter with his time in Boston. We all remember the amazing run he put together last August, hitting .354 with 5 homeruns and 23 RBIs. After that month ended, Jackie would return to earth with just a .222 average in the month of September. The question now is whether or not Bradley has broken through, or if that was just another one of his streaks.
In my personal opinion, this streak is probably the best month of baseball you will see from a single player all season long. Bradley is currently hitting .341, which is surprisingly only good enough for 2nd place on the Red Sox.. The streak overshadowed the fact that Bogaerts is hitting .347 and also has a 19 game hit streak. While I don't think Jackie will continue to dominate every single pitcher he faces, I do believe he won't crash and burn like he's done in the past.
The reason I think he's broken new ground in his career is the way he's hitting the ball. Bradley is not going 1-5 every night for a mediocre average. He's spraying the ball all over the field, and getting multiple hits almost every night. He's taking advantage of the ballpark he's playing in, and providing this team with much more than they expected from him.
When dealing with Bradley, the key seems to be consistency. When he was struggling at the plate, it was when the Sox were juggling him between Boston and Pawtucket. When he started his hot streak, he was finally getting consistent playing time, and it showed. The way he's playing this year proves this logic even more so. Bradley seems to get more comfortable the more he plays, and the numbers back it up.
Like I said, I don't think Bradley will finish the year with a .341 batting average, but I also don't think he'll finish hitting .220. If Bradley can finish with an average north of .285, the Red Sox have their center fielder of the future, pending a blockbuster move by Dombrowksi. With the defensive production that he provides, the bat is just a bonus at this point. Although he's been a big part of it, this offense will continue to flourish even if they lose Bradley's bat.
JBJ is on pace for 30+ homeruns, 130 RBIs, and over 200 hits. I don't think he'll finish with those numbers, and if I had to guess I would say he rounds out the season with 24 homeruns, 110 RBIs and 160 hits. As for the average, if he can finish with a .290 average, Red Sox fans will be very happy.
By Matt Watts