We all know what Jackie Bradley Jr. is capable of doing in the outfield with his sick defensive prowess. However, on Opening Day at Tropicana Field he will without a doubt be the most streaky hitter in the lineup. The inconsistency for JBJ throughout his career has always been there, especially showing in 2017. How much would it mean to the 2018 Red Sox offense if he could put up consistent numbers? A lot. Here are a few aspects of how much of a consistent JBJ could bring to the club:
BOTTOM OF THE LINEUP
Whenever someone talks about a deep lineup, they are referring to the fact that everyone has the potential to consistently do damage. Based on what new manager Alex Cora has revealed about the lineup so far, JBJ will more than likely be hitting at the bottom of the lineup, 7-9. If JBJ could channel his power and be a consistent hitter at the bottom of the lineup, it would make this offense a much bigger threat 1-9. The bottom of the order could have a perfect combination of speed, consistency, and power, (assuming the bottom is JBJ-Vasquez-Nunez).
Jackie also has the potential to be an amazing table setter for the top of the lineup. This was exactly the case in 2016, his best hitting year of his career. He hit for the highest average of his career (.267). He also scored the most runs of his career (94). I truly believe that this is no coincidence, it is common logic. The more times you get on base at the bottom of the lineup, the more opportunities the big boys have to drive you in.
One attribute of JBJ that does not get talked about enough is his speed. Obviously he shows it off when he is tracking and chasing down fly balls in CF. However, we do not talk about his potential on the basepaths either. The most stolen bases that he has had in his career is nine, which is pathetic for someone with as much speed as him. If Alex Cora and Jackie are both willing to be aggressive on the base paths in 2018, it would make him even more of an asset to the offense.
Obviously this cannot be measure in a stat, but Jackie Bradley is one, if not the most likeable player on the team. When he is doing well and making plays, it seems as though it lifts up the rest of the team, which can be very important in the dog days of summer. I think that if Jackie can be playing well throughout the whole season, it will pay dividends for the atmosphere in the clubhouse and the dugout.
When it is all said and done, I think Jackie Bradley Jr is the biggest x factor when it comes to the 2018 Red Sox. I can’t wait to see some more ski jumping after a win!