The Search for “It”, Day Three // BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE

This is part three of my attempt to find a true “It” factor on the Cincinnati Reds 40 man roster. Each article in the series will be posted on Sunday and Wednesday nights during the off-season, starting with the most ‘secure’ players as to avoid writing an article about a potential trade victim, retiree, or free agent.

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After taking a week off to concentrate on some pre-holiday school projects, I’m back and better than ever!

The right side of the outfield has a hold on my heart. Not only was Right Field where I roamed during my short lived baseball career, but it’s also the position my favorite player of all time, Paul O’Neill, played. It takes a lot for me to say that I like any right fielder. All of them are under my constant scrutiny.

If there’s one thing that will never get old when attending ball games at Great American Ballpark, it’s the look on the visiting fans when the entire crowd seemingly boos the Cincinnati Red’s current right fielder. It always brings a smile to my face. And usually they’ll smile too, when one of the nearby Reds fans explains the situation to them. Jay Bruuuuuuuce has just stepped up to the plate.

Jay Brucetakes his fair share of scrutiny. I think it’s safe to say that he’s been in the league long enough to officially label him as a streaky player. Streaky players don’t bode well with me or a lot of baseball fans. But there’s something about this guy that you can’t ignore. The crowd here in Cincinnati loves him.

Aug 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce (32) walks back to the dugout during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Reds defeated the Phillies 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

And, as reported last week and as mentioned in Steve’s article on Thursday , Jay Bruce loves Cincinnati. So much that he wants to be one of the guys who spend their entire careers in one city. Some of my friends were surprised by this bit of news. And indeed, as one of the reader’s of Steve’s article said, this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore. Players today go where the money goes. Albert Pujols left St. Louis at the drop of the hat. Same with Prince Fielder.

There’s something to be said about a borderline All-Star who loves playing for your favorite team. I agree with Steve in that I don’t think the Reds will act on this for quite some time, but it’s nice to know that there won’t be a huge conflict heading into Bruce’s projected free agency period.

Now to the matter at hand. In this series of articles I’m attempting to find the “it” factor for the 2013 Cincinnati Reds. Every team has that special something that puts them over the edge and into World Series contention. I’m of the belief that the “it” factor is absolutely vital to not only make it through the playoffs and into the championship series, but to ultimately win the whole thing as well.

I’m also of the belief that as good a team as the 2012 Reds were, they were missing “it”. This is evident in the recent “snub fest” that was the 2012 awards season. “It” is seen by everyone – “it” is completely evident and unable to be ignored. And ignored is exactly what happened to this Reds team in November.

Jay Bruce finished 10th in the MVP voting. While I believe that’s probably a bit high, he was also the highest placed Reds player. If this doesn’t highlight the fact that this team had no “it” factor, I’m not sure what does. We all know by now that Buster Posey won the MVP award for the National League. Guess which team won the World Series?

It’s becoming more and more clear that at least one player winning a World Series ring will also take home a piece of major hardware at season’s end. Although not all awards are chosen strictly by statistics (the Cy Young this year, had any of the voter’s looked at adjusted statistics, would have had Johnny Cueto finishing at least second), the play of the players at hand definitely have the majority of the say as to whether or not they win one of the major awards. And, unless he becomes much more consistent, I don’t think Jay Bruce will ever win the MVP.

That’s not to say he isn’t a great player. On their best days, I think Bruce is leagues better than Buster Posey. But Posey, if healthy, is almost always at the top of his game. Bruce is hot and cold throughout much of the season. It would take one full season of lights out play from Jay Bruce to be considered MVP worthy.

Now, if that were to happen, we’re talking astronomical stats here. Jay Bruce’s raw skills on an even playing field are out of this world. If we were to take an average game from one of his “hot” streaks and replicate it across a 162 game season, we’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 bombs. That’s MVP caliber stuff. That’s “it”.

This guy has some massive pop.
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Jay is also known league-wide as one of the best defensive right fielders. This guy has a cannon. He was a bit off his game this season, but I see him winning a nice collection of gold gloves in the years to come. Defense isn’t his problem. It’s the fact that with just a little more rhythm he could be so much better on offense.

Unfortunately, it all goes back to consistency. Bruce hasn’t had a consistent season yet, and I’m beginning to think that’s how his entire career will pan out. Believe me, I’ll be the first guy to take 30 homers and 100 RBIs as an average season. Add that to the fact that everyone loves him, he loves Cincinnati, and he’s just a downright charitable guy, and you have the makings of one of the best to ever play in this city. But until the fans can rely on Bruce to always be at 100%, whenever we need him and regardless of his past few at bats, he won’t be a sole provider of “it” on this team.

I mentioned before that I used to play right field. Best play from right field of all time? This.

Topics: 2013 Season, Baseball, Cincinnati Reds, Jay Bruce, MLB, NL Central

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