2018 Projection: Will Jackie Bradley Jr. Bounce Back Or Disappoint Once Again?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Two years ago Jackie Bradley Jr. appeared primed to be a perennial fantasy star.  Entering his age-27 season and coming off a ’16 where he hit .267 with 26 HR, 87 RBI, 94 R and 9 SB the hype machine was in full swing.  However he ultimately took an across the board step backwards in 2017:

482 At Bats
.245 Batting Average (118 Hits)
17 Home Runs
63 RBI
58 Runs
8 Stolen Bases
.323 On Base Percentage
.402 Slugging Percentage
.294 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Now fantasy owners are left to wonder if a bounce back is on the horizon or if he’s destined to disappoint once again.  Let’s dive in and see:

 

Power
Obviously fewer at bats played a role in the perceived regression, but his HR/FB also regressed (18.1% to 14.5%).  That said it’s a skewed number, to an extent, and there’s been some consistency:

  • Second Half ’15 – 18.8%
  • First Half ’16 – 17.3%
  • Second Half ’16 – 19.0%
  • First Half ’17 – 16.9%
  • Second Half ’17 – 10.9%

The second half of ’17 was skewed by an 8.0% HR/FB in July (22.2% in August and 15.8% in September).  He hit 12 HR in the first half, putting him on pace for the same 21-26 HR range he had previously showed.  Maybe he falls a little bit short of that mark, but there is reason to believe that he can contribute.

 

Average
This may be the biggest issue, as he saw his SwStr% regress after showing improvement in ’16:

  • 2014 – 11.7%
  • 2015 – 12.5%
  • 2016 – 10.8%
  • 2017 – 12.9%

While he posted a 22.9% strikeout rate last season, he owns a 24.9% for his career and there’s a good chance of a regression.  He also has consistently struggled to carry an elevated line drive rate (17.8% for his career), which has helped to keep him from carrying a strong BABIP (.297 for his career, .294 in ’17).

When you combine strikeouts with a poor BABIP is it a surprise that he struggles with his average?

 

2018 Projection
.244 (128-525), 21 HR, 65 RBI, 65 R, 9 SB, .306 BABIP, .329 OBP, .432 SLG

 

Conclusion
Sure there’s a little bit of power, but we’re not going to expect a 30+ HR campaign.  With the ability to find home runs in various places, you need to focus on players who pair it with something else.  Unfortunately Bradley doesn’t appear to have that, without excessive speed and with the risk of a poor batting average (which, in turn, costs him RBI/R).  The perception may be different, but there’s little substance at this point.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
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Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

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