I have a lot of admiration for Jackie Bradley, Jr. There’s nothing better than a rookie who plays his heart out and can put in some production for the team. The reason I’m gushing though is because I’m about to say something that makes me a little sad to say: Jackie Bradley, Jr. cannot replace Jacoby Ellsbury.
Before you get mad and tell me that he’s the next big thing, I’ll go ahead and tell you that you’re probably right. But the chances of him getting himself up to an Ellsbury level of play in one offseason aren’t necessarily very likely.
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
As of today, Jacoby Ellsbury and JBJ have played in the same amount of games (33) in their rookie seasons (which is a lovely coincidence to make this comparison). Ellsbury batted .353 in his first short season, while JBJ is batting .191 right now. I understand that not too many rookies bat .353, but that’s still a stark difference.
Do I think JBJ would do better than .191 next season, if he were to be the starting center fielder? Absolutely. But do I think he would put up something close to Ellsbury’s .299 average, 89 runs, and 52 stolen bases this season? No. I don’t know if it’s fair to expect him to do that, but if the Sox go with him over Ellsbury, then isn’t that kind of what they’re saying?
The moral of the story is that the Sox should stick with Ellsbury starting (if they can) until JBJ can be relied on. He’s just too good to give up for someone who might not be 100-percent ready. Maybe they can sign him and trade him for someone like a solid pitcher once JBJ is at the top of his game in the big leagues. Or maybe they can end up shuffling the outfield around in that case, especially because Victorino only has two more guaranteed seasons with the Sox. Or maybe I’m just being super safe and not having enough faith in JBJ. Regardless, the thought of taking a chance on someone by giving up an All-Star quality player is downright scary whether it works out or not.