It is impossible to know whether Jackie Bradley, Jr. has found his swing for good. But what’s undeniable is that he’s contributing to the Red Sox at what had been, until recently, an unimaginable level. Boston is now 31-18 (.633) this season when Bradley is in the lineup.
With a career-best 8-game hitting streak underway, Bradley helped power the Red Sox over a very solid Blue Jays club on Labor Day, for Boston’s fourth straight win. He’s now 15-for-26 (.577) during the hitting streak and 14-for-25 (.560) on the current Boston homestand.
On Monday Bradley was 4-for-4 with a double, a home run, and 4 runs batted in. It was his second 4 hit, 4 RBI game in just 23 days, the shortest span between such games since Manny Ramirez accomplished the same feat in 2002. Bradley on Monday became the first major leaguer with multiple games of 4 hits and 4 RBIs in the same season as a #9 hitter since the Tigers Tom Brookens did it twice in 1988.
Bradley’s sudden found power is impressive. After belting just 5 home runs in his first 188 MLB games, Jackie has now left the yard 7 times over his last 25 games.
And it hasn’t just been home runs. 21 of Bradley’s last 30 hits have gone for extra bases: 13 doubles, two triples, and 6 home runs.
To provide even perspective, consider this. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is the first Red Sox player with a hit, a run, and an RBI in 5 straight games since David Ortiz, August 24-27, 2011.
Hold or trade?
New president of Red Sox baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has to be pleased with what he sees from Bradley whose offense is, at least for now, matching his celebrated defense.
But what will happen in the off-season? Is Bradley now too good to be part of a trade package or is his value as a trade chit peaking at just the right time?
Fans’ opinions vary, though most I’ve heard lean towards keeping Bradley for 2016 and beyond. That doesn’t surprise me as no player in recent memory seems to have engendered more positive sentiments from Red Sox Nation than Bradley. It’s as though the Nation has been pulling for him all along.
Despite the horrible results in the standings, the 2015 Red Sox offense is respectable, particularly since the All-Star break when Sox batters improved to .283/.334/.447 from .257/.322/.397 in the first half.
To field a contender in 2016, however, Dombrowski will need significantly better pitching, and for that, some big pieces of the 2015 crew will likely be on the move.