May 22, 2016

Jackie Effin' Baseball!

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!  Nope, it's just Jackie Baseball!
In case you've been living under a rock and hadn't noticed, Jackie Bradley Jr. is finally hitting the way we all thought he would when he first got called up in 2013. Despite gold glove level centerfield play, his .189 and .198 batting averages his first two seasons kept him from sticking in the majors.  In fact, he had a historically bad offensive start to his career. And lots of people were just hoping that he could be close to an average hitter to keep his glove on the field.  He spent most of the early part of the 2015 season in Pawtucket, only starting a dozen games for the Red Sox before August. But then he came up for good and hit over .350 and showed some power, hitting 5 home runs that month, more than he had in total in two and a half part seasons prior to that.  Unfortunately he regressed a bit in September and a lot of naysayers were saying it was a fluke / pitchers learned how to adjust to him / it wasn't sustainable etc.

Well, this season he has proven that his hot streak wasn't a fluke.  He is batting over .340,  has 8 home runs and has an OPS+ of 173! That's higher than what Mickey Mantle had in his career. Or Mike Trout if you want a more contemporary comparison.  He is also in the midst of a 27 consecutive game hitting streak.

Saturday's game started in a worrisome manner. He was intentionally walked in his first plate appearance, and then slightly less intentionally walked (but sill on only 4 pitches) his next time up. His fans started to worry that his hitting streak might unfairly end if Cleveland pitchers decided not to pitch to him.  Alas, this fear was unfounded, as he beat out an infield hit in the 6th inning to keep the streak alive.

Also, according to the official scoring rules, "a consecutive-game hitting streak shall not be terminated if all of a batter’s plate appearances (one or more) in a game result in a base on balls, hit batsman, defensive interference or obstruction or a sacrifice bunt".  So if he was walked 4 or 5 straight times, this would not add to his hit streak, but it would not end it either.

Anyhow, it looks like JBJ is here to stay. Hopefully he won't have to worry about being sent back to Pawtucket if he hits a small slump.  I also think the Jackie Baseball monicker is here to stay. Henceforth, I shall refer to him as JFB! instead of JBJ.

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