The 2019 Major League Baseball season is here, and predictions on how the year will play out are rolling in from every corner.
After claiming a World Series title in 2018, the Boston Red Sox head into the new campaign largely with the same lineup that led them to 119 wins a year ago.
But the Sox don’t enter the season without their fair share of questions.
Can Mookie Betts put up another MVP-type campaign? How will the bullpen fare without the likes of Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly? How will Chris Sale hold up throughout the season?
MLB.com’s Will Leitch made one “bold” prediction for all 30 big-league clubs, and his prediction for the 2019 Sox has nothing to do with any of those questions.
Here’s his prediction for Boston:
“Jackie Bradley Jr. will be the second-best Red Sox outfielder,” Leitch wrote.
“My colleague Mike Petriello is already well aboard this train, but it makes sense,” Leitch continued. “Bradley hit the ball harder last year, he slightly altered his approach in the offseason and he?s already one of the best fielders and baserunners in the game. He?s also entering his prime. It will be difficult for the Red Sox to improve on what they did last year. It?s Bradley who can make the biggest leap forward.”
OK, this isn’t the biggest leap of all time.
The Red Sox undoubtedly possess one of the best outfield trios in the league, and have a real chance to sweep the outfield Gold Glove race in the American League. Andrew Benintendi also is in the spotlight as he transitions into the leadoff role. That, coupled with Betts coming off an MVP season, perhaps has left Bradley Jr. a bit in the back seat heading into 2019.
Bradley Jr. has predicted big things for himself throughout the offseason, and after a strong spring training performance, the train seems to have left the station on a JBJ breakout campaign.