Conventional wisdom would dictate one of two things will happen with Jacoby Ellsbury this year. He’ll either have a monster season in his walk year and will cash out big time with a team starved for a speedy center fielder or he’ll have another injury-plagued so-so year and the Red Sox will determine that a change of scenery is best for all concerned. Up until recently the Red Sox were content to slowly bring along minor league prospect Jackie Bradley but he has come along at such an alarming rate Boston’s hand may be forced. It’s nice to have options.
The 22-year old Bradley has quickly moved through the ranks of Boston’s farm system, screaming through lower A Lowell and Greenville in 2011 and high A Salem and AA Portland in 2012. This spring he is putting the heat on a so far mediocre Jacoby Ellsbury.
In four spring training games Bradley is Boston’s number one hitter, going 5-9 (.556) with a .636 OBP, .667 slugging percentage and a 1.303 on base plus slugging percentage. Conversely, Ellsbury is Boston’s number 19 hitter with a slash line of .200/.333/.400/.733.
I know what you’re thinking. “Does this guy really think that nine at bats is going to sell me on a Jackie Bradley for President ticket?” Agreed. Bradley still has a lot to prove. I do, however, also believe in tipping points, momentum and my eyes.
Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are proof positive that when a player is ready they’re ready, no matter the age. This is, after all, America where the culture of youth abounds in many disciplines, including sports. In a sport like baseball that has its fair share of long tenured players, there’s something thrilling about a brash youngster breaking in and simply killing it. Bradley has the potential to be one of those players.
I love Jacoby Ellsbury. I loved his potential. I loved 2010. I loved the way he broke into Boston’s lineup suddenly and spectacularly. Above all, I love it when the Red Sox win. Right now, I think Jackie Bradley gives them the best chance to do that not just here and now but for a long time to come.