by Daniel Conmy
Bradley was a prized pick when he dropped out of the first round and into compensation picks. The Boston Red Sox snagged him and Bradley Jr. started developing into a prized talent that could eventually impact the outfield in Boston. For the past three years, Bradley couldn't figured it out at the plate. The defense has always been stellar, but the bat was so nonexistent, so it wasn't worth the defensive upside to put him in the lineup. Then, in the middle of the 2015 season, something clicked.
In no way do I condone the use of small sample size, but Bradley turned his season around with one fateful day. At the plate, Bradley Jr. went 5 for 6 with two home runs and three doubles. There were signs in early August, but this explosion on the scene cemented a transformation. In July, Bradley posted a negative wRC+, but he quickly turned it around in August, posting a wRC+ of 210. Yes, that means he was 110 percent better than the average ballplayer in August. Why the sudden change of course?
Bradley changed his timing mechanism. Before, he did not lift up his leg, but simply shifted weight. The medium leg lift, which helps some batters time pitches, created a better version of Jackie Bradley Jr. Now, Bradley is in the middle of the Red Sox plans for upcoming seasons. A defensive wizard suddenly found a new ability.
Do not throw caution to the wind and believe that Jackie Bradley has turned it around though. Eluded to earlier, this is a small sample. In the month of August, he was one of the best players in terms of WAR. Players have good months. They have good first halves. Remember Bryan LaHair?
While being cautiously optimistic, Bradley Jr. needs to play at this level for the length of a season before trusting the numbers he's putting up. The physical change to his swing might be the only thing holding him back, but time will tell if that's the only speed bump in his game. Pitchers will soon adjust and then we will see if Bradley can easily adjust over the next challenge he faces at the plate.