by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Jackie Bradley Jr. has long been viewed as a player with upside, though the actual results haven’t necessarily matched it. The 2018 campaign was no different, as he stumbled to the following uninspiring line:
474 At Bats
.234 Batting Average (111 Hits)
13 Home Runs
17 Stolen Bases
.314 On Base Percentage
.403 Slugging Percentage
.299 Batting Average on Balls in Play
While he did see a spike in his stolen bases, which helped to offset the other issues, both his average and power took a step backwards yet again. Is there hope the he rediscovers his upside, especially on the heels of being named the ALCS MVP? We’d love to say yes, but…
Since hitting 26 HR in 2016 Bradley has seen his power go to 17 and then last year’s uninspiring 13 HR. He did see a rebound in his doubles (33) and triples (4), while also hitting the ball exceptionally hard (41.1% Hard%). Those two things do combine to give a little bit of hope, and not chasing outside the strike zone very much (27.8% O-Swing%) only helps. While he may never be that ’16 “slugger” again, there’s enough evidence to suggest that he can be an 18-21 HR type threat.
The real question is if he can improve his average enough to make him valuable as a 20/15 type threat. Obviously the Hard% would indicate upside for a better BABIP, and we saw it in the second half as he posted a .269 AVG courtesy of a .352 BABIP. That is probably the other extreme, especially since he appears to be a prime candidate to struggle against the shift:
- Pull% – 45.2%
- Cent% – 34.3%
- Oppo% – 20.5%
You couple that with the propensity to swing and miss against both breaking balls (18.81% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (19.06%) and the upside starts to become limited. He’s looked like more of a .250ish hitter in the past, and that could ultimately be his upside.
A .250 hitter at 20/15 would hold value, if we were willing to bank on him reaching the 20/15 plateaus. Neither are a given, especially after he had stolen 17 bases total in 2016 and 2017. At .250 with 17/7, would Bradley look as attractive?
Further skewing the outlook is the likelihood that he’s a platoon player, considering his slash split:
- vs. RHP – .251/.332/.437
- vs. LHP – .185/.260/.303
Those are the risks we have to weigh, and while he has thus far enjoyed a strong postseason and there are a few small signs it’s not quite enough. As a flier why not, but there are higher upside options we’d prefer to target.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball