Red Sox 2017 Report Card: Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 10: Jackie Bradley Jr.
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 10: Jackie Bradley Jr. /

In what seemed to be the year for Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr to break out, he could not quite make the leap to the next level.

There is no debating that the Boston Red Sox have one of the top outfields in baseball.

Mookie Betts, who originally came up as a second baseman, has been a natural in right field. Andrew Benintendi, has shown flashes of what seems to be a future All-Star career. But Jackie Bradley, who is probably the best defensive outfielder of the three, has never broken all the way through.

Following his first All-Star appearance in 2016, it seemed as if Bradley was ready to assert himself into the list of top American League outfielders. Well, Bradley performed that way in the field, that is no doubt. But he took a dip at the plate, allowing his OPS to plummet over .100 points.

Along with that, his OPS+ dropped below the league average, all the way to 89. It was a disappointing season at the plate for Bradley, to say the least.

But in the field, Bradley had an amazing season and arguably setting himself in position for his first Gold Glove. Bradley’s dWAR, 1.3, did not rank extremely high, but it was all the highlight plays that set him apart. My personal favorite play by Bradley was him robbing Aaron Judge of a home run in the middle of the season.

Bradley also made a phenomenal grab against the Angels, robbing hem of what could have been extra bases.

Needless to say, it was a highlight season for Bradley in center field. Bradley looks to be on the inside track to unseat Kevin Kiermaier as the Gold Glove winner in center field.

But while Bradley has turned into arguably the best defensive center fielder, there are still some things to work on at the plate.

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Bradley only really had one great month. In June, he slashed .353/.431/.578. He was great all month, including four home runs and 15 RBI’s.

Other than June, Bradley’s best month was August, in which he slashed .254/.380/.390. Bradley has shown over his career that he is, at best, inconsistent at the plate. And that may be why he is the centerpiece for a lot of trade talks this offseason.

When it comes down to it, the Sox will have a huge decision to make over the next couple of offseasons. Should they pay Bradley, trade him, or let him walk for free?

He is a good enough defender to where he will make a healthy payday on the open market, but his offense still seems to be a liability.

The best option for the Red Sox would be to move Bradley this offseason, while his value is fairly high. Bradley is still under team control until 2021 and has shown enough flashes to where he can make that leap to the next level.

But as for this season, it was a little bit of a disappointment for him. Many hoped this would be the season he would break out on offense, and we never got that.

The honeymoon period is running out for Bradley in Boston, and this season did not help that.

. Jackie Bradley Jr.. C-. . Center Fielder

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If Bradley is back in Boston next season, look for new manager Alex Cora to get the most out of the young center fielder.