Jackie Bradley Jr. is starting to heat up

Robert Bouffard - Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of the Boston Globe/Matthew J. Lee

Don’t look now, but Jackie Bradley Jr. is heating up.

After going 1-3 with an RBI double and a highlight reel catch yesterday, Bradley has seen his batting average go up to .183. His season-low is .161, which it was as recently as May 19.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that Bradley has slumped this season. Before his offensive breakout in August, 2015, the general consensus around him had always been, “He’s one of the best center fielders the Red Sox have ever had. If only he could hit .240.” But in August and September of that year, Bradley showed that he had some serious pop and run-producing potential.

He carried this success over into 2016, when he hit 26 homers, had a 29-game hitting streak, had an .835 OPS, and was an All-Star starter. His production fell off a good bit after the All-Star Game, but it looked like JBJ had finally figured it out and was going to couple his great defense with solid offense.

Bradley’s 2017 is probably indicative of what kind of hitter he really is. He has decent power (17 homeruns), will sit around league average for RBI (63) and SLG% (.402), and will have a fairly low batting average (.245). It was a little disappointing, yes, based off his 2016, but it’s easily enough to keep him in the lineup every day.

But this season has been uncharacteristically bad. So bad that there was talk of him being sent down as the corresponding move for Dustin Pedroia coming off the DL. Out of 164 qualified batters, Bradley is in the bottom 10 for average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. The Red Sox have worked to make this better, though. He’s stopped his high leg kick and has worked on making his hands quicker.

Well, it seems to be working. As Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe pointed out, Bradley is slashing .302/.360/.522 in his last eight games. He is a streaky hitter as much as anybody in baseball, so this could be where he finally turns it around.

When Jackie Bradley Jr. is in his zone, he is really one of the most exciting players in baseball to watch. From completely laying out to make a catch, to robbing homeruns, to throwing runners out at home, we know that he’s a defensive wizard. But add in his hot streaks at the plate, and JBJ can become a must-see player.

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