Jackie Bradley Jr. has always been an elite defender for the Boston Red Sox, but can he be a consistent contributor to the offense in 2018?
If you ask anyone who the best outfielders in baseball are, Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’s name is sure to come up. If it doesn’t, you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know enough about the game.
Since his MLB debut in 2013, JBJ has been making incredibly difficult plays look routine in the outfield. He’s clairvoyant when it comes to reading fly balls and his routes make Ferdinand Magellan look like an amateur. In addition, he’s blessed with a high caliber rifle for an arm.
But where does this defensive mastermind fit into the Red Sox’ offensive scheme? Like Avril Lavigne’s 2002 hit, it’s Complicated.
Jackie has always shown promise at the plate, but he’s never been able perform on a consistent basis. When he’s on, he’s ON. Take, for instance, his 29-game hit streak in 2016. During that month-long rampage, he hit .415 with a .783 slugging and 8 home runs. Yes, those numbers are correct, I double checked.
Unfortunately for Red Sox nation, Bradley has never been able to sustain his success over the course of a full season. 2016, the year of the streak, marked the best statistical season of his career. He batted .267 with an .835 OPS and 26 home runs.
While he proved to be a powerful asset when he was on, he was a detriment to the team when he wasn’t. Of course, every baseball player goes through lulls, but Jackie’s lulls have been far too frequent. The biggest question for him moving forward is: can he be consistent on offense?
What To Expect In 2018
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I have a really good feeling about 2018 for Jackie Bradley Jr. We know he’s going to play stellar defense. I think this is the year he breaks out as an offensive all-star as well.
One thing that will help solve JBJ’s consistency issues is new manager Alex Cora. Last season, Bradley notched over 90 at-bats in four different spots in the lineup. It’s no wonder he couldn’t get into a rhythm.
If Cora sticks with him at a certain spot in the lineup, he’ll be able to dial in and keep a consistent routine and approach throughout the season.
"Jackie Bradley himself has expressed confidence in his abilities to be more consistent, saying “Obviously the game is about making adjustments, and I want to be able to do that better on the fly… I feel like good things are to come.”"
If Jackie Bradley Jr. can contribute to the offense on a steady basis, he’s going to be a key to the Boston Red Sox success in 2018.
We already know what he’s capable of in the outfield… it’s time he showed us what he’s truly capable of in the batter’s box.