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Thursday, 26 December 2013 23:48

2014 Boston Red Sox Player Analysis: Jackie Bradley Jr.

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 Well at the start of the 2013 season some people believed Jackie Bradley Jr. was Major League ready after a hot Spring Training, and the front office agreed so they put him on the opening day roster in hopes that he would have a big year in the majors. Although it was apparent to some that Bradley was in need of another season of fine tuning in the Minors, the decision had been made, Jackie Bradley Jr. was an MLB player. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Bradley did not live up to these unrealistically high expectations and struggled in the Majors, so when David Ortiz came off the DL in Mid-April, Bradley was optioned to AAA Pawtucket. Many were dissapointed with Bradley's performance in the Majors while others saw it coming from a mile away but he was still young and still had a chance to prove he was big league worthy. In Pawtucket Bradley put up solid numbers boasting a .374 OBP in 80 games along with 10 homeruns which came as a pleasant surprise as he hit 9 in 128 games in 2012. Not to mention 44.32% of his hits in AAA were for extra bases. The only dissapointment in my mind with Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 2013 season is his lack of stolen bases since he went 7-14 in stolen base attempts in Pawtucket in 2013. Overall, though I would say Bradley was right where he needed to be in 2013.   With the departure of Jacoby Ellsubry a door has been opened for Jackie Bradley Jr. in the big leagues for the Red Sox, and the pressure will be on him to succeed because there is no big CF prospect behind him or anything like that. Going into Spring Training in 2014, the starting center field job in Bradley's to lose. His extra season in the Minors has given him some time to developed and that time will pay off as we started to see in 9 hits in 37 at-bats in September 2013. In 2014, a major key to Bradley's success will be plate discipline because when he has it, he battles out his at-bats, gets more hits, gets more walks, tires out the pitcher more, and helps the team win more. Bradley is usually a guy with great plate discipline but he seemed to struggle in the Majors with pitch recognition and strike zone recognition against such advanced pitching. If Bradley, sees a lot of reps in big league Spring Training camp against a mix of pitching, this will help him out big time since he will have to face all types of pitchers in Spring Training. Once Bradley finds his groove at the plate with plate discipline he will hit fine. Although they are not a major concern, Bradley does not accumulate a ton of stolen bases and some people may be bothered by the fact that he only had a 50% success rate stealing, I like to think back to the Red Sox vs. Phillies game back in May where Jacoby Ellsubry stole 5 bases and did not score a single run. Based off of that logic, I do not see stolen bases as very important and the Red Sox should be just fine with Bradley's lack of stole bases. Defensively Bradley seems to be just fine in center field because between the Minors and Majors he did not make a single error in 78 games, unlike his subpar defense in left field, a position that Bradley should never need to play because of the surplus of left fielders on the Red Sox roster. Of the five tools, the one that intrigues me the most in Jackie Bradley Jr.'s power. He showed a lot more power this season than in past ones with 13 homers in 117 games, 10 of those came in Pawtucket in only 219 at-bats off of righties, which makes me awfully curious as to whether or not he has some power potential especially for someone who is as lean as he is.   Now here are my predictions for Jackie Bradley Jr. for the 2014 season. First of all, he could be a very productive 8 or 9 hitter for Boston's lineup to start the season, and with some production will move his way up higher. Offensively, Bradley should do just fine. Expect a lower batting average in his first full season in the Majors around .240-.250 but a much higher OBP, about 90 to 100 points higher than his batting average. In a full season in the Majors I do not see any reason why Bradley couldn't hit 15 homeruns easily if he is healthy and playing everyday, which would be ideal in Boston's already power-packed lineup. On the basepaths however, don't expect much from Bradley as far as stolen bases are concerned, but as a speedy guy and decent baserunner, expect him to score up to 85 runs and potentially even more if he is a leadoff hitter. On defense, I project that Bradley will emerge as a great defensive player with a much better arm than Johnny Damon so much so that he could even be in consideration for a Gold Glove Award. Overall, with this being said Bradley will definitely be a valuable contributer to the Boston Red Sox next season and I would not be surprised if he was a serious Rookie of the Year candidate, if not even the winner of the of the Award.  Bradley will be a fun guy to watch in 2014 and I wish him and the rest of the Boston Red Sox the best of luck for next season. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. You can find me on twitter @CLNS_Tom so give me a follow if you don't already and happy new year.