For the Cincinnati Reds, Jay Bruce has the ability to carry a team and to derail them. When he is in the middle of one of his patented “hot streaks”, Bruce can single-handed lead the Reds’ offense. However, this season has been anything but a success for Bruce due to lingering injuries. Hitting just .207 with three home runs and 17 runs batted in, Bruce finds himself mightily struggling after a career year in 2013.
Watching Bruce at the plate in 2014 has been tenuous and a bit depressing. At least twice a game, Bruce can be seen doing uncharacteristic things at the plate — watching three straight strikes, no longer willing to shoot the pitch to left field, etc. Debate has circulated regarding Bruce’s health and ability to produce consistently for the Reds.
A career .255 hitter, Bruce has been known as the big bat in the middle of the Reds’ lineup. But with his compounding 2014 struggles, the Reds’ are struggling to find places to hide their struggling slugger. The main issue for the Reds has been the recent tendency by Bruce of showing signs of improvement. For example, Bruce added three hits and three runs batted in during the first two games against the San Francisco Giants.
Last night I sat in section 514 and watched the Reds lose to the Giants. While Bruce produced a run scoring double in one plate appearance, he also struck out in the other three at bats. Following two of his strikeouts (in which he watched called third strikes), it was evident the amount of frustration Bruce was feeling with regard to his struggles. With no rehabilitation trip following his reinstatement from the disabled list, one must wonder what the outcome could be for Bruce if he had taken the time to properly rehab.
Regardless of reasoning, Bruce’s struggles are just part of the bigger picture when discussing the Reds’ offensive shortcoming on the season. They must also ask themselves if they are a better team with an unhealthy Bruce or if they should spend time to ensure his health.