Digging Deeper into Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s Ridiculous Numbers

Greetings from Zebulon, the newest Carolina League city that sounds a little bit like a planet that Captain Jean-Luc Picard would direct the Starship Enterprise toward. Unfortunately, every single time I’ve been to Zebulon, it has rained. With that said, this is admittedly a very small sample size of about 24 hours.

There is absolutely no way to deny Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s overwhelmingly tremendous start as a result of a small sample size. That is not to say he is gonna be a career high-300′s hitter with a nearly .500 OBP. But with 31 games, 113 at-bats, and 150 plate appearances under his belt, I think it is safe to say he has proven he can be an elite player at the Carolina League level.

Some bullet points from Bradley’s scintillating start:

  • In 150 plate appearances, Bradley has reached base 76 times, an OBP of .507. He also leads the lead with five sac flies, a productive at-bat that actually hurts the OBP.
  • He has reached base in 30 of his 31 games, with the lone 0-fer coming on April 11 against Lynchburg. He has reached in 26 straight since.
  • He began the season 2-for-16 (.125) with 0 extra base hits. Since, he is 42-for-97 (.433) with 14 extra-base hits.
  • He has recorded a hit in every home game thus far, batting .453 (24-for-53) in 15 contests at LewisGale Field. His OBP at home is .543. With that said, he’s only hitting .333 on the road. What a slouch!
  • With the bases empty, he’s batting .366. With runners aboard, he’s hitting .429. What does this mean? Not sure…But I imagine opposing pitcher’s have not been eager to face him regardless of the situation.

Impressed yet? Well, digest this: His offense has not been the most impressive part of his game. Don’t be bamboozled by his four errors. He is an EXCELLENT defensive center-fielder, as this highlight tried its best to suggest.

Earlier this year, a major league scout told me that he thinks the best outfielders usually have high error totals, particularly players with plus arms. Throws from the warning track can be impacted by so many factors, and usually the outfielder will be credited with an error even though it may not be his fault. Like a perfect one-hop throw that grazes off an infielder’s glove, a toss that hits a runner or perhaps a chuck that skips awkwardly off the mound. An outfielder should not be judged by his error column. Instincts, range, speed, arm, confidence are much more re;evannt characteristics that manifest themselves daily. Trust me when I tell ya, watching him every day, Bradley is an ELITE defender. (All Gamecock fans are nodding proudly right now.)

The most common question I hear these days (aside from ‘When is Barnes pitching?”) is “When will Bradley be promoted?” The short answer is I have no idea. The longer answer: Well, there are a bunch of outfielders in the upper levels of the organization that deserve playing time and Bradley is still relatively young (he just turned 22) and he has been playing pro ball for less than two months. With that said, it is hard to view his remarkable prediction and say that he has much more to prove at the Advanced-A level.

Rebecca Barnett/Roanoke Times

My guess is that he’ll be in Salem through the end of May and perhaps move up to Portland in early June. That could be way off; I really don’t know. Every situation is handled differently. All I know is that I will enjoy watching him play every day until he is promoted, at which time I’ll envy Mike Antonellis, who will learn to appreciate the little things Bradley does (fouling off two-strike pitches, being a great situational hitter, his flawless and instinctive first steps in the outfield) as much I have.

He’s slated to bat leadoff and play center for the Salem Sox tonight, and seemingly the only thing that can halt his sensational play is Mother Nature. Well, it’s raining as I finish typing this at 5 PM, and the forecast is ominous. Nonetheless, if Salem takes the field, it’s a good bet that Jackie will be impressive. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

More numeral nuggets are below… Broadcast begins at 7:03… First pitch at 7:15 (theoretically, if it stops raining)…

Go Celts,

Evan

*****

May 14, 2012 7:15 PM Salem Red Sox (19-14) vs Carolina Mudcats (19-16) Game #34

Five County Stadium             Zebulon, NC                Road Game #18

Probable Starters: RHP Miguel Celestino (2-1, 3.10) vs RHP Will Roberts (1-1, 4.50)

Pursuing Perfection: While baseball is a game of adversity and failure, the Sox enter the upcoming series with Mudcats hoping to perpetuate its most successful performance of the season. Through 33 games, the Sox have beaten every team in the league and lost to every team at least once, with the lone exception of Carolina. Salem swept the League’s newest member at LewisGale Field at the end of April, prevailing in three straight by a combined score of 18-7. While going 20-0 against a foe is nearly impossible over the course of a long season, the Sox hope that a 4-0 start is a realistic possibility tonight.

Perfection Pursued: Playing back in the state to which he helped bring two national titles, Jackie Bradley, Jr. enjoyed a career night on Saturday. Salem’s prodigious center fielder finished five-for-five before leaving for a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh inning. The five-hit performance was Salem’s first of the season and just the third across the Carolina League. Lynchburg’s Evan Gattis and Winston-Salem’s Dan Black each had five hits in six at-bats against Potomac earlier this year.

Simply the Best: After reaching base in eight of his 12 plate appearances in the series against the Pelicans, Bradley’s on-base percentage remains at the zenith of all professional ballplayers. His five-hit Saturday brought the OBP to .507, 33 points higher than Charlotte’s Dan Johnson, who’s second in the minors. Bradley resides 18 points higher than New York Mets third baseman David Wright, who currently leads the big leagues. Joey Votto’s .466 OBP is second in the big leagues, 41 points below Bradley, who has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games, during which he has hit .433 and reached base at a .528 clip with 42 hits and 20 walks. He leads the Carolina Leauge in batting average, runs scored, and walks.

King of the K: Matt Barnes received a no-decision on Friday night, but the first-round phenom racked up eight more strikeouts in six innings, bringing his season total to 62, the most in all of professional baseball. In the major leagues, Felix Hernandez has 58, CC Sabathia has 53, while Yu Darvish and Stephen Strasburg each have 51. In the minors, Mobile’s Trevor Bauer is second to Barnes with 60. In seven professional starts, Barnes is 3-0 with a 0.70 ERA, striking out 62 and walking five in 38.2 innings pitched.

Rising Above: With 16 hits on Saturday, the Salem Sox are hitting .307 in five games against Myrtle Beach and .288 on the season. That full-season clip is #1 in the Carolina League, four points better than Lynchburg. The Red Sox have a remarkable 329 hits in 33 games, nearly ten per tilt, the best average in the league. Although Salem is sixth in the circuit in homers, the Red Sox lead the league in doubles and share the lead in triples.

Streaking Shaw: With a first-inning RBI single on Saturday, Travis Shaw extended his hit streak to nine games, joining Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts with nine-gamers this season. Shaw is batting .417 (15-for-36) over the past nine games.

 

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