It’s difficult to figure out where to start with Jackie Bradley Jr. You could start with his incredible defense, and actually that’s probably the right place to begin. You could look at this play, or this play, or this play, or if you have four minutes and 31 seconds you can watch some defensive highlights from 2014. Or just use Google. I’m sure you’ll come up with something good. That’s because Bradley is an exceptional outfielder. Someone with his defensive skills shouldn’t have to hit much to play regularly. “Not much” is still more than “none,” though, and it’s the difference between these two that has held Bradley back.
Bradley was called up four times in 2013, including at the beginning of the season to serve as the club’s starting left fielder. He hit .097/.263/.129 and was sent down as soon as the team got healthy enough to do so. He was called up three other times with varying degrees of failure, but the end result was a .617 OPS on the season. Even so, Bradley had hit at every level of the minors, including posting an .842 OPS for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013 in between trips to Boston. The team decided he would be their starting center fielder in 2014. And he was. And his defense was close to perfect. His hitting was also perfect — though only on opposite day. Now, though, he’s hitting on all the regular kinds of days, too.