Red Sox confident Jackie Bradley Jr can have another monster series – Metro US

Red Sox confident Jackie Bradley Jr can have another monster series

Jackie Bradley Red Sox

Things have come full circle for the American League Championship Series MVP.


There was a time when the decision Red Sox manager Alex Cora is going to have to make about his outfield when Boston travels to Dodger Stadium for as many as three World Series games an easy one. With no designated hitter in National League parks, and J.D. Martinez’s bat a no-brainer to keep in the lineup and play the outfield defensively, Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the odd man out.  


Despite having one of the best gloves in centerfield in baseball, JBJ’s struggles at the plate are well documented. Bradley’s had hot months here and there throughout his career, but has never found the type of consistency once believed to be obtainable. That narrative at least slightly changed here in 2018, highlighted by his postseason production. 


JBJ entered the All-Star break with a batting average of just .210, never hitting better than .213 in any individual month. He went on to hit .269 for the remainder of the season, but it wasn’t thanks to a flash-in-the-pan hot streak — Bradley hit .260 or better in each month from July through the end of the year.


The centerfielder’s confidence at the plate was on display against the Astros during the ALCS. While he hit just 3-for-15 in the series, you know they were big ones if he prevailed the MVP. JBJ’s double and two home runs were good for nine crucial RBI, along with four walks, that helped Boston turn an 0-1 deficit int the series into a 3-1 lead.


In Game 2 it was a bases loaded double that brought in three runs in a clutch spot. Game 3 in Houston JBJ hit the nail-in-the-coffin grand slam that secured an easy victory for the Sox, and maybe was the turning point in the ALCS. Then in Game 4 we got an encore with another two-run dinger struck well into the seats in right field. 


I’m not here to tell you that Bradley has to be in the lineup every World Series game at Dodger Stadium — players like Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are ultimately more talented. But Bradley’s approach at the plate during the second half of the season gave Alex Cora and the Red Sox the confidence to stick with him in big spots in the ALCS. Cora even referred to his centerfielder as a “different hitter” prior to Game 5 of the ALCS, and the patience certainly paid off. 


Bradley’s play has been strong enough to at least cause rumblings of potentially moving the MVP candidate Betts out of right field and in to second base — where he primarily played during his minor league career — which would leave the platoon of Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt on the bench. 


A lot can happen during these first two games at Fenway Park that could change the narrative before it’s time to play Game 3 in Los Angeles, but the mere fact we’re even discussing options like Mookie at second base or Benintendi on the bench speaks to Bradley’s perceived value. 


How the Red Sox choose to strategically build their lineup in the three games in Los Angeles has turned into one of the bigger storylines entering the World Series. It’s something we didn't see coming, and it’s thanks to Jackie Bradley Jr.