Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has gone through a wild roller coaster ride during the 2014 season. Initially slated to begin the season with the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA), Bradley Jr. was called back up to fill in for Shane Victorino, who went to the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Initially supposed to be a fill-in player during Victorino’s absence, Bradley Jr. has taken advantage of his new opportunity, hitting .400 with five RBIs in his first seven games. His performance in the early going of the season has given him momentum to become the third starting outfielder when Victorino returns from the DL.
Bradley Jr.’s offensive skills have been apparent throughout the course of the season. Notably, in his last two games against the Texas Rangers, Bradley Jr. has hit .625 in eight at-bats, driving in four runs. Bradley Jr.’s offensive contributions, which helped the Red Sox defeat the Rangers 5-1 on Monday, are especially valuable for an offense that has struggled to capitalize with runners in scoring position. Although it is still early in the season, Bradley Jr.’s surge at the plate should be an effective resource that the Red Sox can utilize over the course of the year.
In addition to his offensive emergence, Bradley Jr.’s defensive prowess has become more of an asset for the Red Sox. Bradley Jr., who has been mostly playing in right field with Grady Sizemore in center, has the range and versatility to make great plays in the outfield. Even though he has played in right or center in all of his games this season, Bradley Jr. will likely play left field once Victorino comes off the DL. Although he has played 14 games in left field during his career with the Red Sox, Bradley Jr.’s outfielder skill set should help him as he is set to become a full-time starter with the Red Sox.
Alongside his offensive and defensive skills, the Red Sox should make Bradley Jr. a full-time starting outfielder because he has been deemed as the ‘face of the future’. Only 24 years old, Bradley Jr. has the potential to become a valuable contributor over the coming years, most likely being a mainstay in the Red Sox’ outfield. Daniel Nava, the current starting left fielder, might be overshadowed by Bradley Jr.’s potential to the point where Nava’s role as a starter could be usurped by his younger counterpart. In essence, if Bradley Jr. continues his production over a longer period, then he will be able to take over in left field.
With the offensive and defensive skills that complement his boundless potential, Jackie Bradley Jr. should become the starting left fielder for the Red Sox at some point during the 2014 season. His hot streak at the plate will be a beneficial asset to a lineup struggling with runners in scoring position, and his defensive skills will complement Sizemore and Victorino in the outfield. If Bradley Jr. becomes a full-time starter, then the Red Sox will get the offensive productivity they need to return to the postseason in 2014.