Will Jackie Bradley Jr. Finally Win Gold Glove? Red Sox Outfielder Named Finalist

Two fun facts about Jackie Bradley Jr.: 1) He’s considered one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, and 2) He’s never won a Gold Glove Award.

In fact, despite regularly appearing on highlight reels for his defensive wizardry, the Boston Red Sox center fielder wasn’t even a finalist in 2017. That changed this year, though, as Bradley on Thursday was named one of three finalists for the 2018 American League Gold Glove Award.

Bradley faces steep competition: Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout didn’t make a single error this season and likely is the odds-on favorite to win the award, while Chicago White Sox rookie Adam Engel is a fine sleeper pick.

But JBJ makes a compelling case, and not just based on the eye test. The 28-year-old led all AL center fielders this season in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), an advanced sabermetric stat that factors in a player’s defensive range, at 7.4, per Fangraphs.

He also ranked first among AL center fielders in Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF), which measures a player’s value relative to the average fielder’s performance, at 9.3. Trout posted a 4.0 UZR and 5.8 DEF, while Engel actually finished with a negative UZR (-0.6) and 5.8 DEF.

If advanced metrics aren’t your thing, Bradley and his cannon arm also tied for the AL lead among center fielders with nine assists this season while finishing with a 98.4 fielding percentage. Oh, and he’s been known to make a stunning catch or two.

Bradley isn’t the only Red Sox player eyeing Gold Glove hardware, though. Boston has four other Gold Glove finalists, the most of any major league team, and has the chance to sweep the entire outfield. Here’s the full list of Red Sox candidates:

— Mitch Moreland, 1B
— Ian Kinsler, 2B
— Andrew Benintendi, LF
— Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
— Mookie Betts, RF

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images

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