Jackie Bradley Jr.
Selected by Boston as the 40th overall selection in the first round of the 2011 draft, Bradley progressed through the Sox’s minor league system at a meteoric pace, reaching the Majors in just two short years. Despite collecting a litany of minor-league awards and accolades, Bradley’s numbers at the Major League level were atrocious.
From April 2013 through July 2015, Bradley had 575 plate appearances at the Major League level. In those plate appearances, he produced a slash line of .191/.264/.274 while hitting just five Home Runs.
Bradley’s elongated swing resulted in the inability to catch up to a major league fastball or generate any power upon contact.
However, somewhere along the line, while languishing in Pawtucket in 2015, JBJ shortened his stroke, closed his stance, and these alterations in his mechanics enabled him to be much shorter to the ball and to drive the baseball to all fields with significantly greater authority.
Upon his return to the Red Sox in 2015, Bradley’s alterations in his swing were physically evident, as were the results of that retooled swing.
In 57 games and 209 plate appearances from August 1, 2015 to the end of the 2015 campaign, Bradley finally gave Red Sox Nation a glimpse of his enormous potential. In those two months, he produced a slash of .276/.361/.564 while blasting nine Home Runs.
As a Red Sox fan, I was thrilled with what I was observing; however, I wondered if such production could be maintained for an entire season and for a team in a pennant race?
After Bradley’s enormously successful 2016 campaign, in which he hit .267 with 30 2Bs, 7 3Bs, 26 HRs, and 87 RBI, I can state with certainty that JBJ has finally arrived.
In addition, Bradley’s 2016 campaign included his first all-star selection and a 29-game hitting streak.
I would be remiss were I not to mention his defensive proficiency. He is undeniably the best defensive center fielder in baseball. He led all American League center fielders with 365 putouts, 13 assists, and three double plays turned.
At season’s completion, he should be in possession of a shiny, new, Gold Glove.