Jackie Bradley Jr. Pitch Breakdown. Click to zoom.
See what I did there? His name is Jackie Bradley but I capitalized B-A-D because, you know, he’s bad at baseball. Well, I shouldn’t say that. He’s bad at hitting baseballs, but he is an elite defender. The latter means nothing to the fantasy world except that it is the only reason some schlubs get to stay in the lineup sometimes. That is certainly the case for JBJ sometimes.
I will now refer to him as BrAD as if he is a scientific element, at least until he gets his batting average above the Mendoza line. BrAD is made up of Bromine, strikeouts, a BAbip below .225, and a batting average below .215 (the REAL Mendoza line, for my purists out there). Meet BrAD. BrAD stinks.
I considered writing the entire intro to this column in the first person the way the first person organ articles appear in Fight Club. “I am Jackie’s complete lack of putting balls in play.” “I am BrAD’s cold sweat as he enters the batter’s box.” “I am Mike’s broken heart because Mike thought he would be clever and grab JBJ in two different leagues as he hoped to get 20+ home runs, 10+ steals, and 75+ RBI as JBJ takes the next step in his development.” I decided against doing that, but it would have looked something like that.
The most frustrating part of JBJ’s struggles is that, despite some JBJ-like slumps last season, he really seemed to put everything together. A new approach and shorter leg kick led to increased everything, especially power. Now, though, he looks like the 2014 version of JBJ, the one who hit .198, looked absolutely lost at the plate, and appeared destined to be a defense-first outfielder who never quite made it in the Show.
This is 2013-2014 Jackie Bradley Jr. and I don't like it.
It was already rumored that BrAD might start sitting against some lefthanders, and now, as the struggles continue, manager John Farrell is choosing to sit him more and more. BrAD was benched for both weekend games, and he has now taken a seat in three of the last five games. (Update: three games in a row and now four of his last six. Red Sox released their latest lineup while I was writing this.) In his absence, his replacement Chris Young has been knocking dingers and driving in runs, with two home runs and six RBIs over the weekend.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit just .227 in more than 500 plate appearances since the end of his 29-game hitting streak: https://t.co/NrzapuCh99
— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) May 7, 2017
The easiest way to lose your job in the big leagues is for you to disappear, either via injury or poor performance, and your replacement steps in and outperforms you (read: sitting on the bench while someone else plays your position better than you is a pretty bad environment). Now, Chris Young is not going to be heading to the All-Star game anytime soon, but if he can produce at least SOMETHING at the plate while BrAD continues to do NOTHING, then BrAD might be on the bench more and more as we go forward.
BrAD is still owned in 89% of CBS leagues and 74% of ESPN leagues (down almost 13% over the past week), so many of us are still holding out hope that he goes on one of his patented tears. I am giving up on him in my CBS league, and by the time you read this I will have dropped him in favor of Alex Bregman (I have first waiver priority, so I am able to say this with 99% confidence). I am holding out hope in my other league, but I am not holding out for much longer. He gets another week or two on my bench and then BrAD is no more.
Have we seen the last of Adrian Gonzalez? Well, no, he is still alive. I’m someone will see him soon. But have seen the last of AGon has a fantasy contributor? Maybe. When Cody Bellinger was called up, the thought was that it would be a temporary stay while a few other players, namely Joc Pederson, got healthy. But then…
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 7, 2017
GRAND. SLAM. @Cody_Bellinger!
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 9, 2017
More like Cody Killinger, amiright? :::awkwardly waits for laughter that never comes::: As you can see, the problem here is that Cody the kid is killing it. So when Pederson was healthy, a struggling and obviously injured Adrian Gonzalez was sent to the disabled list, and Bellinger stayed in the bigs. Unfortunately for AGon, the kid looks like he is here to stay. We don’t know how long Gonzalez is going to be out for, but he made it sound like he has been trying unsuccessfully to play through this back injury all season, so it might be a while.
Unless Bellinger goes through an enormous slump of the next few weeks, Gonzalez likely doesn’t have a job to come back to. Sure, Bellinger can also play some outfield, but the Dodgers already have a crowded outfield that they shuffle around. And Bellinger is considered a plus defender at first base, so there is no real reason to try and shift him to the outfield right now.
Gonzalez is 35-years old and is entering the last year of his contract in 2018 when he is owed another $22+ million. That means a few things. For starters, the Dodgers won’t want to keep him around at that salary unless he has a miraculous recovery and rediscovers his power stroke. It also means that the Dodgers will have trouble trading him unless they are willing to eat some of that money AND can showcase him having some success the rest of the season.
So, it’s not like Gonzalez is going to come back from the disabled list and get released or ride the bench every night. My guess is that, as long as Bellinger keeps producing, Gonzalez plays two or three times a week when he comes back, giving Bellinger a day off here and there and a couple days a week in the outfield.
The main takeaway, though, is that it doesn’t look like Gonzalez is going to be someone we can rely on to produce in fantasy for the rest of 2017, especially in weekly leagues. We’ll have to keep an eye on his recovery to see how long it takes and how he looks when he comes back. If his back heals and he turns back into the AGon of old, the Dodgers will have a good problem on their hands. If he doesn’t, then they have a pretty easy decision to make.
Other news and notes
For those of you who are concerned about Brian Dozier this season:
— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) May 9, 2017
It’s not a necessarily large sample size, but it is pretty interesting. Is this a coincidence, or has the league figured out something about Dozier?
Don’t look now (OK……now look), but Alex Bregman might be heating up:
— Jack Borenstein (@JackJaybee) May 10, 2017
The bummer for fantasy owners is that Bregman has been dropped in the lineup while he continues to adapt to MLB pitching (read: environment decrease), and the double bummer is that he hasn’t homered yet. I, however, am a big believer in Bregman and think he will turn it around. Remember, Bregman only has a total of 146 career games over two seasons in the minors, as he got called up in the second half of last year. There will be a few bumps as he figures it out, but the dude can flat out hit. I’m in on Bregman, and if you want to sell I am ready to buy low.
I am desperate for pitching in at least two of my leagues, and I keep stumbling across Kyle Freeland on the free agent pile. At first glance, some of his numbers look NICE. But then I look at his K/BB, BB/9, and WHIP and throw up in my mouth. A sub-3.00 ERA is great and all, but it’s not going to last when you are walking almost as many guys as you are getting out. Plus, I know that as soon as I pick up him he is going to get shelled.