by Ray Kuhn
Everybody will remember the playoffs, because it’s fresher in our minds. Jackie Bradley played a large role in Boston’s postseason success, and that was especially true in the ALCS, but it was a very small sample size. Instead judge Bradley on his regular season merits, as we have enough data and and past performance to look at.
Overall Bradley hit .234 last season with 13 HR and 59 RBI, so you are perfectly within your rights to expect more. The fact that he bats towards the bottom of Boston’s order doesn’t exactly work in his favor, but it is a strong lineup. He has some value towards the back end of outfield, but just how much?
It truly was a tale of two halves in 2018 as he hit .200 in the first half and followed that up by hitting .269 in the second. There was some measure of luck involved, as a 25% hit rate was followed up by a 35% in the second half, leading to the improved performance. Regardless his .267 batting average in 2016 should still be considered somewhat of an outlier, and at best I would peg him as more of a .250 hitter. The fact that he struggles to make contact, 71%, limits the upside.
In a perfect world Bradley would return to those 2016 production levels, .267 with 26 home runs and 87 RBI, but that is just asking for too much. However he did show some real power last season, especially in the second half, and that sets things up nicely for 2019\.
Bradley’s 2018 power index (per Baseball HQ) was 117 with an expected power index of 130, which shows that he still left something on the table. After the All-Star break those numbers jumped up to 148 and 167, respectively. Additionally he improved his fly ball rate over the same span; 34% to 39%. The problem is that his home run to fly ball rate has steadily decreased over each of the last four seasons; 18%, 18%, 15% and 11%. That is what needs improvement for him to hit anything more than 15 HR.
Along with improving his fly ball rate he hit more line drives (18% to 21%). Bradley’s performance against left-handed pitching is still a concern, but as long as we don’t expect him to be anything more than he is, everything should be just fine.
The one truly positive development was the jump in stolen bases. While he has what is essentially average speed, Bradley brought his stolen bases up from 8 to 17, and that is all directly tied to an increase in his stolen base opportunities; (9% to 17%).
Currently, through 44 drafts, Bradley’s ADP in the NFBC is 233 with a pick range of 167 to 325. While I like Bradley, and there is room for some improvement, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of a resurgence. Instead, he is a predictable depth option where you know what you are going to get.
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