BOSTON -- No one can describe Jackie Bradley, Jr. as “very good outfielder with a below average bat” anymore, and it’s not just because he’s hit safely the last 17 games -- it’s how he’s doing it.
“He’s getting a lot of hits, but I think what I’ve seen is more good, consistent, hard contact,” Mookie Betts said on his fellow outfielder following Wednesday night’s 13-3 win.
And Betts is completely on point, with Bradley, Jr.’s six homers, three triples and five doubles as evidence -- accounting for 14 of his 26 hits during the streak.
So, he’s not squeaking by slapping singles every night. He’s sticking to his game plan and driving pitchers’ mistakes.
“That’s been the key, when he’s gotten his pitch he hasn’t missed it,” John Farrell said on his number nine hitter. “He just has not missed his pitched up in the zone.”
Looking at the pitches he hit on Wednesday, JBJ hit his three-run homer on a belt-high fastball over the heart of the plate, his double on a thigh-high fastball on the inner half and hit his final home run on an breaking ball that hung up over the middle of the plate.
All of which where missed locations by the pitcher. And that’s the sign of a good hitter, someone who takes advantage of the one mistake they see in an at-bat.
“[I’m] just trying to stick with my approach,” Bradley, Jr. said following Wednesday’s game. “Trying to keep things simple and put good swings on good pitches. I think I’m taking what the pitcher’s giving me and just trying to hit the ball hard.”
Throughout this streak, JBJ’s comprised .406 batting average, a .449 on-base percentage and a .859 slugging percentage -- with an OPS of 1.309.
Compare that to similar streaks from earlier in the year -- Eric Homser’s .366/.392/.592 from his 18-game tear and Manny Machado’s .397/.446/.779 16-game run -- and it’s clear Boston’s center fielder is on another level from everyone in the MLB.
While it’s fair to wonder, “What will he look like after the streak?” his patient approach is a mantra all Boston hitters seem to live by right now. And the fact that he’s fully maximizing on mistakes -- again not just getting by on a single or two a day -- shows he’s not going to fall hard when the streak ends.