Top 100 Baseball Blog

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s Consistent Inconsistency

Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has never become a star, but is a very useful player. He shines with his glove and has occasional bursts with his bat. However, this is the product of being one of the streakiest players in baseball. He goes for long stretches playing like a dud (with the bat) and then will catch fire and be close to elite for quite a spell. The second half of the 2018 season has been one of his better streaks, and the team will need him to sustain this as they head into the postseason with major expectations.

In parts of six seasons with Boston, Bradley has combined to hit .237 with 69 home runs and 290 RBIs. While he consistently plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, he has yet to put out a full season of consistent offense. He has traditionally started out strong and finished seasons on downward slides. Heading into this year his batting average/on base percentage/slugging splits for the first half of the season (in which he has been with Boston the majority of the year) versus the second half has looked like this:

2014 First Half-  .227/.305/.311
2014 Second Half- .126/.162/.153
2016 First Half- .296/.378/.548
2016 Second Half- .233/.315/.412
2017 First Half- .280/.363/.490
2017 Second Half- .204/.277/.302

In 2018 Bradley is hitting a modest .231 with 12 home runs, 57 RBIs and a career-high 16 stolen bases. Although he has experienced the same vastly different halves, he has bucked tradition and actually gotten better as this season has worn on:

2018 First Half- .210/.297/.345
2018 Second Half- /.267/.333/.485

The change in his 2018 fortunes is rather obvious, as he is hitting .349 when he puts the ball in play during the second half of the season, compared to a .265 mark during the first half. His .297 career BABIP suggests his current hot streak is based more on luck than skill, but that has the room to find more consistency with the bat.

This season has been all about inconsistency for Bradley. In addition to his first and second-half splits, he is hitting .183 against left-handed pitching versus .246 against righties. He is hitting a very respectable .274 at Fenway, but an anemic .190 on the road. He has also been almost non-existent in losses in which he has played this year, hitting .138 with no home runs and 3 RBIs in 43 such games.

Barring a major drop off in the closing weeks of the season, 2018 will mark the fourth straight season of Bradley contributing at least a 2.0 WAR (Baseball Reference). His high is 5.5 in 2016, and he is currently at 2.1 this year. Those numbers suggest that consistency is a major factor holding him back from knocking on the door of star (or at least All Star) status.

Bradley is 28, so the window for him to prove he is more than he appears to be now (a very useful, but streaky player) is gradually closing. The former first-round draft choice is one of the most engaging players the team has had in recent memory and obviously possesses a lot of talent. He will be looked upon to contribute to their current playoff run, but his ability to even out his game could make him in Boston for many years to come.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

No comments:

Post a Comment