Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley becomes an unlikely ALCS MVP

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 18: Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox is presented with the American League Championship Series MVP award after defeating the Houston Astros 4-1 in Game Five of the American League Championship Series to advance to the 2018 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 18: Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox is presented with the American League Championship Series MVP award after defeating the Houston Astros 4-1 in Game Five of the American League Championship Series to advance to the 2018 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Jackie Bradley, Jr. isn’t known for his bat but a few huge hits against the Houston Astros earned the Boston Red Sox outfielder the ALCS MVP.

Expectations entering the ALCS were that the Boston Red Sox would need their superstars to lead them against the reigning champion Houston Astros. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Chris Sale all factored into the series to some extent yet they weren’t the ones carrying this team to the World Series. Instead, it was the guy batting at the bottom of the order who made the difference.

Jackie Bradley was only 3-for-15 in the series for a batting average that puts him right at the Mendoza Line yet it was enough to earn him ALCS MVP honors.

Batting average has never been Bradley’s forte. He’s a career .238 hitter coming off a season in which he posted a .234 average that was his lowest since his rookie season in 2014. Bradley may have only tallied three hits in the ALCS but he made every one of them count.

The first hit came in the third inning of Game 2 against Astros starter Gerrit Cole. Bradley smacked a bases-clearing double off the left field wall at Fenway. Left fielder Marwin Gonzalez misplayed the bounce, allowing the ball to get over his head after it ricocheted off the Monster. It then rolled along the ledge of the left field wall, buying extra time for all three runners to cross the plate while JBJ cruised into second.

Game 3 was highlighted by Bradley’s 8th inning grand slam that cemented a win that put Boston ahead 2-1 in the series. The Red Sox have won three World Series titles since the turn of the century and all of them have included at least one memorable grand slam in the ALCS. If Boston goes on to win a championship this year, Bradley’s slam will be remembered fondly as part of that list.

The next night, Bradley went deep again. It was only a two-run shot this time yet it may have been his biggest hit of the series. The sixth inning homer put the Red Sox ahead 6-5 and proved to be the game-winning runs in Game 4.

Bradley tallied nine RBI in the series, third-most by a Red Sox hitter in ALCS history. Only David Ortiz (11 in 2004) and Manny Ramirez (10 in 2007) have driven in more runs in the ALCS as a member of the Red Sox. Bradley also had three multiple-RBI games in the series, trailing only Ortiz in 2004 for the most by a Red Sox hitter in the ALCS.

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The defensive-minded center fielder has always been a streaky hitter. Bradley couldn’t have picked a better time to get on a hot streak. His hits may not be coming in bunches but when Bradley gets his bat going he’s clearly able to Do Damage.