Red Sox’ Bradley – real or an illusion?


The Red Sox and their followers are in a joyous mood over the resurrection of previous projected promise of Jackie Bradley, who in numerous excursions into MLB failed and failed miserably.

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The continuing attachment to his baseball resume was “if he could only hit.” And now Bradley has hit or has he? I will remain a skeptic until the last proof is in and that is in the works.

Remarkable hitting streaks happen in baseball. Lou Clinton had a memorable one many decades ago. Clinton, a muscular right-hand hitter, had his memorable one embedded in the 1962 season. For about one month the nondescript outfielder hit nine home runs, drove in 29 RBI and hit .440 (41-93) before the streak ended and Clinton returned to being a borderline regular.

In his previous two seasons Clinton had shown “promise” of the potential lightning in his bat. Brought to Boston as a 22-year-old in 1960, Clinton represented an influx of young talent that would eventually become the core of the 1967 championship team, but for Clinton it never happened.

Clinton’s surge locked him in for a full ride in the outfield for 1963 and the result was a .232 average with 22 home runs and 77 RBI. Clinton moved on to four other clubs and was finished by age 29 with an MLB slash of .247/.308/.418.

Clinton was no Bradley in the outfield, but he was more than capable patrolling right field at Fenway. Good at tracking the ball and with a strong-arm. Bradley, however, is in another world defensively.

Get the defense out-of-the-way. Bradley is the owner of one of the best arms and gloves I have ever seen. A virtuoso defensively. The superlatives are all accurate with Bradley’s defense. But that bat?

Bradley never was a “great” hitter in the high minors. In Portland and Pawtucket the average was in the 270s with no up in lights power production until 2015. After several failures in Boston Bradley caught fire for the PawSox and it was consistent for his entire stay and finished with a .305 average before being called up – again.

Bradley’s streak upon his return will be legendary in the annuals of verbal history for Red Sox fans. The stories about the fielding will be magnified as will the hitting. No need to rehash the current streak except to say it is over.

The magic has disappeared with the bat and Bradley has returned to face the slump. This is the defining moment for Bradley. For another comparison go to Mookie Betts wallowing in the .230s. Betts turned it around and that is, to me, the separator.

How will Bradley respond to a MLB slump? Will his confidence erode like a sand castle at high tide? Since his 4-4 game Bradley has gone 1-24 and that translates to .042. That is the old Bradley. Included is a grand total of 13 strikeouts. That is the old Bradley.

The next few weeks will show if Bradley is the real deal or just an illusion.

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