A lot of fans in Red Sox Nation seemed to sense that this past year, we were catching our last glimpses of Jacoby Ellsbury in a Red Sox uniform. So, when he jumped ship to the New York Yankees, it didn’t hurt as much as one would typically think, and a big reason for that is that the Boston Red Sox have Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings to take over. However, if you think that Bradley Jr. is going to take over exactly where Ellsbury left off, I have one thing to say. Stop it. Stop it right now. Please. Okay, that’s three things, but you get the point.
They are different players with different skill sets, and that even includes defense where they could be the most comparable. Ellsbury had great speed, but his center field instincts weren’t that great. However, any ball that he might have misplayed, he could correct by using his speed and make up for his mistake. Bradley Jr. is not nearly as fast as Ellsbury, but his instincts are outstanding and that makes him an excellent center fielder. One of the reasons Bradley Jt. should be exciting for a lot of fans to watch is because he actually has a good arm; that’s a dynamic that we haven’t seen in center field in a long time.
The biggest difference between the two players is going to be offensively. Bradley Jr. will not steal 50 bases; it just flat out won’t happen. He doesn’t have that type of speed. He may not even bat leadoff during the season. It might make a lot more sense to have him batting ninth to take the pressure off. He has decent enough speed and amazing instincts where he might get between 20-30 bases, just don’t expect him to break Ellsbury’s team record. Bradley Jr., if he becomes a lead offhitter, will be a different type. He will be the type that has great on-base skills and will utilize that. One doesn’t have to have blazing speed to be a great leadoff hitter, just ask Wade Boggs. Boggs led off because he was great at getting on base, not because he stole a lot of bases.
Bradley Jr. has also shown that he has some power, and that will also separate him from Ellsbury, who, other than that one MVP type season, never showed a great deal of home run ability. Bradley Jr. is going to be a very good player and he has some very special skills. My concern for Red Sox Nation is that they are going to expect him to pick up where Ellsbury left off, so the first time he gets caught stealing or doesn’t bunt for a base hit, they are going to boo him like there’s no tomorrow. Leave the kid alone. Remember, he’s not the same player. Red Sox Nation, know your role.