Jul 10, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) hits an RBI single against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Jackie Bradley and Jacoby Ellsbury at mid-season

I wrote an article for BSI several months ago with the premise that Jacoby Ellsbury and Jackie Bradley will forever be linked and therefore compared.

For Bradle,y the lack of confidence the Red Sox displayed was clear with the signing of Grady Sizemore and the endless mention of options, such as Shane Victorino, being available for center field duty.

The Red Sox had firm evidence for this approach.

In spring training of 2013, Bradley’s performance forced his way onto the roster. Then it happened. A rookie wall for sure. His stints with the team in 2013 resulted in a slash line of .189/.280/.337 with a strikeout almost every three at bats.

In 2014 little changed until recently.

In his last 18 games Bradley is slashing .302/.353/.349. The strike outs are down. Bradley is looking rather well with the stick.

Ellsbury is slashing .283/.348/.402 for the season. Ellsbury has a decided advantage in the power department. Always gifted against left-handed pitching, he is hitting .320 against southpaws. Bradley? Bradley is actually hitting .241 against left-handers.

Ellsbury is a burner on the base paths. Bradley has above average speed, but is not in the rarefied speed class of Ellsbury. Bradley can grab a base and is an adept base runner. Ellsbury is an elite base runner and base stealer.

What has surprised me on Bradley is his defense. Bradley was touted as an above average defender and has shown, at least to my eyeball observation and metrics, that he may just be one of the best, if not the best, to play that position in recent Boston history

Bradley’s UZR/150 is now at 25.2. No one who plays CF in the American League is even close. His arm is one of the best in CF. Bradley’s DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) is at ten, exceeded only by Leonys Martin sitting at 12.

Bradley’s ability to get to the ball is reflected in his OOZ (Outside Zone) where his 57 (tied with Ellsbury) is, again, second to Martin’s 60. Bradley can get to the ball quickly in the gaps and if Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava are in the other two outfield slot,s this becomes a significant defensive plus.

Bradley is a Gold Glove candidate based on metrics or an eyeball test. Bradley has already had more than a few “wow” moments with the glove and his arm. Going from first to third on a single to center is a risk few wish to take.

Bradley will not replace Ellsbury. Bradley, at least if the current streak is not an illusion, will make the loss of Ellsbury minimal if not nonexistent.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Jackie Bradley Jacoby Ellsbury

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