Boston Red Sox 2019 Report Cards: Centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Evaluating the 2019 season of Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and assigning a grade based on how his production lived up to expectations.
2019 marked the seventh year that Jackie Bradley Jr. has spent in the majors. Unfortunately, the Red Sox could not live up to expectations. How did Bradley stack up this season?
The 29-year-old centerfielder earned $8.55 million this past year. He becomes arbitration-eligible in 2020 and becomes a free agent in 2021. JBJ put up a .225 BA, .317 OBP, .421 SLG, and a 2.0 WAR in 2019. Over 494 at-bats he racked up 111 hits, 21 home runs, and 8 stolen bases.
Bradley was healthy this season and played in 147 games (145 of which he played defensively in). This was the second-highest of his seven-year career. He had 62 RBIs throughout the season. He’s only had two seasons in 2016 (87 RBIs) and 2017 (63 RBIs) in which he’s produced better numbers. To put that into perspective, it’s not the best of numbers.
Washington’s Anthony Rendon led the MLB with 126 RBIs in the regular season. 22 players had over 100 RBIs. Xander Bogaerts led the Red Sox with 117 RBIs, followed by Rafael Devers who had 115 RBIs, and J.D. Martinez who produced 105.
He only had 8 stolen bases, which was on the lower end of the spectrum for JBJ. He was caught stealing 8 times. Mookie Betts led the Red Sox with 16 stolen bases, followed by Andrew Benintendi who had 10, and JBJ and Devers were tied with 8 apiece.
These numbers were significantly lower than that of 2018. In 2018, the Red Sox put up 97 stolen bases combined. Mookie led with 30, Benintendi had 21, and Jackie had 17. The number was up from 2017 when the team only had 84 stolen bases.
The Red Sox as a team only had 54 stolen bases in 2019, which leads me to believe that Alex Cora decided from a game plan perspective to cut down on the cat and mouse game.
Unfortunately, it should have been utilized more as it is a strength of many of the players on the squad. It would have added a competitive edge to a meek season. We’ve all seen what Coach Goodwin is capable of crafting with the run game- can we see more of this in 2020, please?
JBJ struck out 155 times which was a career-high. When looking at past seasons, his season’s highest strikeout season came in 2016 with 143 strikeouts. His overall batting average was on the lower end of the spectrum. He’s only had two seasons with a lower BA.
He’s had three seasons with higher OBP and two with higher OPS. 208 is his second-highest TB which examines singles, doubles, triples, and home runs that a player accumulates in the season. As a teammate, he had three sacrifice hits (a career-high for JBJ).
How did Jackie do in comparison to the rest of the league? He had a 0.4 defensive WAR. Cleveland’s Roberto Perez, Arizona’s Nick Ahmed, and Washington Nationals Victor Robles led the MLB with a 2.6 defensive WAR.
Offensively, his performance was poor. He ranked 9th in the AL for strikeouts. This was his third straight season with a below-average offensive production. Granted we are talking about JBJ, who’s known for his defensive abilities and not his offensive powerhouse skills.
He led the league for assists and double plays turned as a centerfielder. He was second for his .987 fielding percentage as a centerfielder. On the downside, he was third for errors committed as a CF. It’s a stat that only speaks to the incredible CFs in the league, as JBJ only had four errors.
He was ranked second for CFs in the AL during the regular season. He produced 303 putouts out of 317 total chances, this was the highest by a significant margin. He also led with double plays turned. His assists and errors were in the middle of the pack, tied with Angels’ Mike Trout and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier.
What’s next for Jackie? There are trade rumors about JBJ potentially being traded to the Cubs, White Sox, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants, or Mets. Boston is unlikely to see a high return on a trade involving JBJ. His offensive performance is nothing to write home about. Defensively, there are a lot of strong players in CF. For a team acquiring Jackie, it would likely be a short-term acquisition.
He’s set to earn $11 million in 2020. The only real benefit of the Red Sox trading him would be to reduce payroll.
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JBJ had the second-highest OPS, .307 BA, 17 RBIs, and 16 runs scored in the AL from May-June. June was Jackie’s best month performance. He started the season red hot and then fell off the streak. Overall, he performs better against right-handed pitchers but his best average came against left-handed starting pitchers.
He plays better at home (.261 BA, .832 OPS, .475 SLG) versus playing on the road (.191 BA, .650 OPS, .371 SLG). It makes sense, as JBJ knows Fenway Park the best. He’s more comfortable playing in his home. His routine is set more while playing at home. It does, however, make things problematic. He also had a better performance in games that the Red Sox lost.
He had the second-highest putouts on the Red Sox. Mookie had the most at 320. He had the fourth-highest fielding percentage in the OF for the Red Sox. This goes to show just how strong the Red Sox outfield is. As TV broadcasters normally say, all of the OFs could easily play CF.
I think we’ll see JBJ return next season. I don’t think the Red Sox will gain enough in a trade to make it worthwhile for them. Offensively, his numbers will remain like this season. From a defensive perspective, we can expect Jackie to produce.