Red Sox Jackie Bradley Jr. starts hot in the second half
Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has had a poor season, even by his standards. But he is showing he has the ability to turn it around.
With a 2-4 day in which he had a homerun and three RBI, it is looking like Jackie Bradley Jr. may be poised for one of his signature hot streaks. His batting average is up to .211 and he has been hitting the ball hard all season long.
Bradley started off the season on the wrong foot. The highest his average got was .233 on April 20. For the next month, he went through a brutal stretch where he could barely make contact with anything. He went 8-70 (.114) with 34 strikeouts in 23 games. This was the time when the questions about whether he should be playing at all were most prominent.
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Over the next 29 games, he was slightly better. But he was still abysmal by normal MLB standards. He hit .196 and struck out 25 times in that stretch. Fortunately for Bradley, his struggles were overshadowed by the success of Andrew Benintendi, who was hitting .310 with eight homers and 21 RBI during the same period.
But in the 20 games since then, Bradley has looked like a completely different player. He is batting .314 with three homers, 18 RBI and a .921 OPS since June 24.
Also, since his season average hit the .200 mark on June 27, it’s dipped below it twice, but overall, it has climbed up to .211, which is where it stands now. He has even seen an increase in OPS, which went from .612 to .649.
So where has this success come from? Yesterday, NESN’s Guerin Austin quoted Bradley saying that J.D. Martinez has been helpful during this resurgence. This just adds to the already growing legend that is J.D. Martinez and his genius approach to hitting.
But looking past that, Bradley has been hitting the ball hard all season long. His 92 mph average exit velocity and 49.1 hard hit percentage are in the top eight and four percent of the league, respectively.
The problem, though, is his .263 batting average on balls in play. This could come as a result of teams shifting him more than ever. Last season, he was shifted 33.1% of the time, as opposed to 52.5% this year. This shows that there is legitimate backing to the complaint that every time he hits the ball hard, it’s right at someone.
Overall, it’s looking like Bradley is improving. He’s hit well over the last month, but it hasn’t been the kind of tear that we are accustomed to seeing from him. During his 29-game hitting streak in 2016, he hit .415. While it is highly unlikely that he will catch fire like that, he has the ability in him.
Next: Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts ranks No. 6 on FanGraphs Trade Value list
Mookie Betts was the Red Sox’ first half MVP. Will Jackie Bradley be the MVP of the second half? Probably not. But there is always reason to believe that he can turn the dial up to 11 at any moment. It’s just a matter of waiting for it to happen.