March 25, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (74) works out prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How Good Can We Expect Jackie Bradley Jr. To Be In 2013?

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been an instant sensation in the Red Sox organization. In his first full season in the minor leagues, he took home the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year Award after batting .315/.430/.482 between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. In his first major league camp, he has been by far the best hitter on the team and has hit for a remarkable .433/.521/.633 in 60 at bats. Now, it appears all but certain that Bradley is going to be the Opening Day left fielder for the Red Sox due to injuries and his spring performance.

As always when a top prospect makes his debut, there is going to be tons of hype for the 22 year old. Bradley seems very mature and collected for his age and with an easy-going demeanor and a polished approach, it looks like he’s going to be the next great Red Sox player. However, though Bradley has the skills and maturity to become an above average player and a fan favorite, one has to look at the facts and expert opinions before jumping to conclusions.

Bradley is not going to continue to hit over .400; pitchers will figure out the youngster but he ought to be able to recover. One cannot expect him to be an absolute monster who wins multiple MVP’s en route to a Hall of Fame berth. However, it’s entirely reasonable to expect Bradley to be a .300 hitter who adds double-digit home runs and steals while providing excellent defense in his prime.

As a 22 year old (Bradley turns 23 on April 19), Bradley isn’t particularly close to his prime though. He has no experience above Double-A ball, where he didn’t exactly light the world on fire, batting .271/.373/.437. Don’t be fooled by his spring training stats (after all, Darnell McDonald led the Red Sox in hitting last spring), but also don’t be overly negative. Because of his advanced approach at the plate, it seems reasonable to expect Bradley to hit somewhere in the .250-.280 range with a high walk rate and great defense.

If it were up to me, Bradley would spend at least the 11 days in Pawtucket necessary to keep him from becoming a free agent after 2018. However, it appears unlikely that the Red Sox will go by this route, as they’ve all but announced his accomplishment by releasing Ryan Sweeney earlier today. It seems to me that Bradley will be a good player in Boston, and maybe as soon as this year. However, he’s probably not going to be a great player, so hamper your expectations if you expect anything close to the hype which various Boston media centers have been pumping since early March.


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Tags: Boston Red Sox Jackie Bradley Jr.

  • John Fahrer

    In his prime, I see Bradley as an elite leadoff man in terms of average and getting on base (Ellsbury even with his stellar stolen base totals and out of nowhere 2011 is somewhat overrated as a leadoff guy with a career OBP below .350). Power and speed-wise, probably doubtful he’ll ever be a 30 homer guy and he won’t steal bases at Ellsbury’s rate. Probably a 20/20 guy who hits a good share of doubles and triples with an OBP over .375.

    Defensively: he covers more ground than Ellsbury and has a better throwing arm, hence the reason it’s dumb to waste that by putting him in left (Jacoby would welcome the switch since covering less ground will lessen the chances of injury).
    He should be worth a handful of more wins per season than Ellsbury (one can make the argument that the Red Sox decline has coincided with Ellsbury being the leadoff man).

    As for 2013: expect some growing pains, especially if he skips AAA. Probably a .270-.275 average, .330-.345 OBP, 5-10 homers, 15-25 doubles, 5 triples. Hopefully John Farrell will realize that playing the guy with the better arm in left is a dumb idea too and ultimately switch Ellsbury and Bradley.

    • Aidan Flynn

      Bradley should be in CF but with Ellsbury’s incumbency advantage, I have a hard time seeing a switch. Ellsbury doesn’t seem like a guy who’d be overly dramatic if he would have to move, but who really knows? Michael Young was supposed to be the “ultimate team player” but whined when he was told he’d DH and be a utility guy last year.

      John, I have a hard time seeing him post the numbers you said. Those numbers would be similar to Harper’s from last year (although without the same power), and no respect to Bradley, but Harper was and is a better player than Bradley. I see a .255/.325/.400 line with exceptional defense wherever he is in the outfield. If he could do that, I’d be absolutely thrilled.