Just Bad, Jackie
Potential. That’s the buzz word that is thrown around so often in the sporting world.
We hear a player has potential for decades, and they keep getting the benefit of the doubt even though they don’t show the results of their potential on the field.
Every team in every sport probably has a player like this. One who has been said to have loads of potential for the longest period of time, but their skills have never came to fruition whatsoever.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is that player in Boston.
Since being selected with the 40th pick in the 2011 MLB draft by the Red Sox, Bradley has done nothing but get Boston fan’s hopes up about what he could become.
Year after year he has dazzled in the outfield; showing off his blazing speed, outstanding athleticism, and cannon-like arm. That has never been the question about JBJ. His defense is one of if not the best displays of athleticism you can find on the planet.
It’s his hitting, or lack there of that leaves Boston supporters up in arms about a guy with so much potential.
In his seven year career, Jackie’s best hitting season landed him with a .267 average, and that was the same season he went on the 29 game hitting streak and rose his average to .350 by the end of it. For the rest of his career, he’s never hit over .250, and has found himself below .200 three times. He showed potential with that 29 game hitting streak, I still remember everyone saying, “Jackie is starting to figure it out…. he’s going to be special!”
He shows flashes that give Red Sox fans hope that he can become a star, yet he never stays consistent. The 2019 season hasn’t been any different for Bradley, it’s only been worse than we’ve ever seen out of him before. He’s batting .153, with a .257 on base percentage, and struck out 43 times in 118 at bats.
Those numbers make me violently ill, because I’m pretty sure I could match that with a few sessions in the batting cage. Disgraceful.
Sox fans will remember last postseason when he came up massive in so many ALCS games, and ended up as the ALCS MVP due to his clutch hitting against the Astros. After that postseason, his stock had never been higher. Any team would’ve taken him in a moment’s notice. I was praying that Boston would trade him last offseason.
General Manager Dave Dembrowski missed his opportunity to ship him off for a viable arm in the bullpen, and now the Sox are stuck with a guy that you probably couldn’t give away for free. Even worse, no one would want to have to absorb that $8.5 million that the Red Sox are paying him for some head scratching reason.
Although this has been very critical of Jackie up to this point, let’s talk about his fielding. Jackie Bradley is amazing in centerfield for the Red Sox. Any ball hit within 100 feet of him you expect him to catch. Even when you don’t expect him to catch it, he’ll catch that ball too. But does him making a great play that no one else will make once every 10-15 games make him untouchable on the Red Sox roster?
Of course not.
Defense is important, but I’d much rather take an average fielder that can consistently bat above .250 than what Bradley brings to the table. His defense doesn’t subtract out his atrocities at the plate. Sure, defensive prowess is great to have, but it doesn’t help much when you’re almost an automatic out with the bat.
This is a tough spot to be in, but one the Red Sox put themselves in. You can’t trade him. You’d be lucky to get anything worth a damn. You can’t keep playing him daily, because he’s a rally killer at the bottom of the lineup. And I’m not sure if you send him down that getting dominated by AAA pitching would do anything for his confidence.
Here’s the option the Sox are left with. Take Bradley out of the starting lineup altogether, let JD Martinez play more Right Field and less DH, move Michael Chavis over to first base, let Eduardo Nuñez stay at second base and sometimes third base, and let Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers act as your DH, sometimes rotating into their defensive positions.
The Red Sox are very deep, and there are many lineup rotations that they can get away with. Problem solved. JBJ can be used for pinch hitting situations or as a running replacement for the time being. His defense alone isn’t worth enough to consistently keep him in the lineup.
Brock Holt, Eduardo Nuñez, and Steve Pearce are all more worthy to be receiving playing time than Bradley when they’re healthy. At least they all pose a possible threat at the plate.
I don’t think JBJ is a .150 hitter, but I also don’t think he’s too much better. No matter your potential or who you are, there should be no way you can get away with hitting like a pitcher and having no real repercussions.
If he could bat .250 yearly he’d be a stud, but he’s only done it once, and needed a wild hitting streak to get there. I really like Jackie Bradley Jr. the man. He seems to be a great guy who does a lot for the community. But it doesn’t abstain him from receiving any of this fair criticism.
Alex Cora, it’s time to make a move. Jackie Bradley doesn’t deserve to be in this lineup consistently, and everyone can see it. The hype of potential can only keep you around so long.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached his potential expiration date at 29 years old, and if he doesn’t turn it around by the end of the season it should be good riddance. Allow him to be another organizations disappointment, because his time is up in Boston.
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