The days of hitting below the Mendoza line appear to be behind Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Boston Red Sox outfielder is having by far the best season of his career, an All-Star campaign that’s seen him not only play his hallmark stellar defense but also make a continued contribution at the plate.
Bradley enters Wednesday’s series finale with the Detroit Tigers hitting .306 on the season with an incredible .941 OPS, thanks in large part to 16 home runs and 25 doubles.
Bradley’s success this season is actually a continuation of a strong stretch to end the 2015 season. The Red Sox Notes account on Twitter, which is run in coordination with the Red Sox, tweeted the following Wednesday morning about Bradley’s last 162 games.
Pretty remarkable. It’s made even more impressive by how incredibly lost Bradley looked at the plate in his first two seasons at the big league level.
Bradley hit a woeful .196 through the first 164 games of his career — including the 2013 and 2014 seasons — hitting just four home runs and 24 doubles. In 530 plate appearances, Bradley struck out 152 times, or roughly 29 percent of the time. In 2016, Bradley’s strikeout rate is down 16 percent.
The outfielder’s career arc — even just a few seasons in — is an interesting case study and reminder of how difficult the scouting and development process can be. The Red Sox clearly saw plenty they liked in Bradley, enough to draft him with the 40th pick in 2011, but sometimes it takes a little while for the player to fully realize his potential. It also stresses the importance of patience, something that some teams likely will overlook in the next few days with the Aug. 1 trade deadline looming.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images