Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Bill James Projections: Jackie Bradley Jr.


2013 projection: 148 games, .258 BA, .351 OBP, .419 SLG, 13 HR, 65 RBI
2013: 37 games, .189 BA, .280 OBP, .337 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI
2014 projection: 131 games, .248 BA, .329 OBP, .420 SLG, 15 HR, 55 RBI
2014: 127 games, .198 BA, .265 OBP, .266 SLG, 1 HR, 30 RBI
2015 projection: 129 games, .226 BA, .298 OBP, .341 SLG, 6 HR, 36 RBI
2015: 74 games, .249 BA, .335 OBP, .498 SLG, 10 HR, 43 RBI
2016 projection: 145 games, .253 BA, .329 OBP, .416 SLG, 14 HR, 62 RBI

Jackie Bradley Jr. started the 2015 season in limbo. Shipped off to Pawtucket out of the gate despite tearing it up in spring training, Bradley cycled through a few short trips to Boston before making the permanent jump at the end of July. 

Then in August something amazing happened. The guy we'd been told was all-field, no-hit began mashing. In 26 August games, Bradley hit .354, with a .734 slugging percentage. That's not a typo: Bradley had 28 hits, and 17 of them were for extra bases, including 5 home runs. Of course, he fell back to earth somewhat down the stretch as major league pitchers began to figure him out, but Bradley proved that he's much more than an excellent glove.

The highlight reel catches kept on coming between the big hits, and even as Bradley's offensive numbers leveled off as the season drew to a close, there was no member of Boston's highly regarded outfield more reliable than he was. 

The Red Sox are reportedly planning to start 2016 with Bradley in center field where he belongs, and putting Mookie Betts in right. It makes a lot of sense: even with Fenway's rather expansive right field, it's a waste to have the spectacular Bradley playing anywhere but center.

Bill James and his team project Bradley to make some gains over a full season in 2016. But the Red Sox will be content if he can perform at even an average level at the plate, seeing as he'll doubtless save plenty of runs with his glove.

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