Game one of Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak, I was chirping the people who said he couldn’t hit at the major league level.
The doubters pushed back. And I get it. Trust me, I do. They had every right to push back. The larger sample size of Bradley’s career would indicate that they were right — he couldn’t hit at the major league level. Consistently, at least. But that hot streak that he went on last summer from August 9 to September 7, when Bradley hit .446 with a 1.441 OPS, as small of a sample size as it may have been, it gave me hope. The same way that Xander Bogaerts struggled in 2014, and then came four hits shy of a 200-hit season in 2015, I believed Bradley was capable of a similar breakout season.
Bradley also got that 2014 season to come up and struggle, but the Red Sox didn’t stick with him in 2015 the same way that they stuck with Bogaerts. In all honesty, I think Bradley was robbed of an opportunity to succeed at the major league level last year. It wasn’t until Torey Lovullo stepped in as the interim Red Sox manager last summer that Bradley was given regular playing time, and he flourished.
Was it a flash in the pan, or was it a talented player who had actually been given the consistent chance to play after struggling in his rookie season? I believed that it was the latter. After going 3-for-5 with 6 RBI in Monday’s victory over the Oakland A’s, Bradley’s hitting streak is now at 15 games, which is the longest active streak in the majors. Over those 15 games, Bradley is hitting .382 with a 1.215 OPS, 4 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 17 RBIs.
If you’re not a Jackie Bradley Jr. believer, I already know what you’re thinking. Cool! Another hot streak! Whoop-dee-doo! He’ll go right back to being the .200 hitter he is once his hot month is over. Yeah, I’d probably agree with you if that were true, but it’s not. Andy over at High Heat Stats dug this up this morning, and over his last 81 games, Bradley is hitting .298 with a .949 OPS, 24 doubles, 8 triples, and 13 home runs. Don’t look now, but with his 3-hit night on Monday, Bradley’s up to .303 with a .903 OPS this season. Still think he’s the all glove, no bat guy?
Speaking of Red Sox hitters who are batting over .300 this year, there are now five of them — David Ortiz (.321), Xander Bogaerts (.315), Travis Shaw (.308), Dustin Pedroia (.304), and Bradley (.303). You know, with all this talk about how bad David Price has been, I’ve been getting a lot of trade proposal tweets, wondering what it would take to acquire Sonny Gray from the A’s. Well, he hasn’t been as bad as Price this year, because nobody has, but put it this way — Clay Buchholz is having a better season than Gray is this year. Still want to give up a boatload of prospects for him? Not that he’s even available anyway.
Gray got knocked around for seven earned runs on eight hits, and couldn’t even make it out of the fourth inning. Every starter except for Christian Vazquez had a hit in Monday night’s 15-hit assault on Oakland, as the Red Sox scored a season-high 14 runs, and have hit at least one home run in each of their last 10 games, which they haven’t done since 2012. The Orioles got rained out in Minnesota last night, so Boston moves back into a first place tie with Baltimore. The Red Sox have now won 11 of their last 15 games, and have leaped over the Giants and Rockies to become the third highest scoring team in the majors behind the Cubs and Cardinals.
Final score: Athletics 7, Red Sox 14