If you have read some of my posts in which Bruce is the subject, you might have the impression that I’m not a Jay Bruce fan. That’s not the case at all. I’m actually a huge fan of his. He’s the only current Reds player of which I own anything that has his likeness or name attached. I guess you could say I’m a bit different then. I take the opposite approach some fans would take. I expect (maybe not fairly) him to be better.
Well, Bruce did post nice numbers for 2011…and it looks like 2012 will be just as good. You think maybe I should cut him a break?
Here’s how 2011 and his career numbers look along with Bill James projections (via Fangraphs) for Bruce.
Stats and projections
In Bruce’s four seasons, he has totaled 36 assists, averaging 9 per year. Add this, 11 of those 36 have occurred at home. And that arm has built respect over the years. 2011 represented the first time in Bruce’s career that runners attempted to advance more than 50% of the time.
2. Increased walk rate
I touched on this within another post. It may not be a monumental increase, but it continues to improve…each and every year he’s been in the majors.
Some times, we forget that Bruce’s boon in his strikeout rate occurred in 2010 and not in 2011. The increase in his SO% from 2010 to 2011 was only 0.1%.
3. Progression in power and run production
In terms of raw numbers, we have seen Bruce improve in both home runs and RBI over his four seasons. With last year’s “breakout” of 32 and 97, many are projecting a 30+, 100+ season. It’s not beyond his talents either.
1. Consistent production at plate
If you check Bruce’s splits over the past two seasons, you will see what I mean.
2010 showed a greater consistency as there was only one month (July) where he hit below his career average of .254. Same cannot be said for 2011 as Bruce produced one unbelievable month of May (where he was named NL Player of the Month), but he rode that one month for the majority of the season. Bruce managed to hit over that career batting average only one other month (July).
2. Fielding regression?
Bruce was a finalist for the Gold Glove. I know some fans felt he should have won. Would you be shocked if I told you that 2011 represented Bruce’s second worst Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR, Fangraphs) and Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average, Baseball Reference) for his career? It’s true. In fact, Bruce’s -11 Rtot was the worst on the team. His UZR of -0.8 was the worst of any regular starter.
His dWAR was a career low of -1.1.
3. Heightened expectations
And we should have higher expectations, but how high is too high? If you look at Bruce’s player page on Baseball Reference, you see a few names…
Impressive to be compared to some of these players, but could this play on our minds? Possibly.
No question that Bruce can be the guy in Cincinnati. I know Votto is still on the roster (for at least two more years according to his contract Mr. Olney and Mr. Gammons), but Jay could be merely waiting in the wings if by chance Votto is not a Red after 2013.
All that being said, I do expect Bruce to step up a bit more in 2012. He did in 2011, but not to the extent I think most of us expected. Still, this kid shows us something a little different every year and he still manages to progress in at least one area. That says a lot about his development, drive and determination.
A 30-100 year is certainly attainable and reasonable to expect and project. A pick up in consistency could spell even higher numbers. 35 and 110? I’m not counting Bruce out especially if he can add 15 points to his batting average.