Criticism of the 25 year old is sometimes rampant. Not at the moment – they’re playing meaningless baseball right now. But when the balls and strikes start to count, people will be eagerly watching Bruce, wondering if he’s “finally” arrived.
Depends on how you define finally arriving. He’s homered more than 30 times in the past two seasons, both in which he fell just short of the 100 RBI mark (97 in ’11, 99 in ’12). He has arguably the best arm in right field, in all of baseball.
Jay Bruce is a contributor of a successful Divisional Championship team. But in order to be a contributor for a successful World Series Championship team, he has to improve in the clutch. That’s not just my opinion either. See below the difference for Bruce at the plate in wins and losses.
Game Outcome for Team
It’s fire and ice. When the Reds win, Jay Bruce is nearly a .300 hitter. When they lose, he’s hitting just above .200. Bruce bats a pedestrian career .255, but most people will take that with 30-40 homers and 100+ RBIs. It’s not his overall performance at the plate that dramatically affects his stats – his numbers in the clutch cripple them.
We often talk about clutch factors in players. Who rises to the occasion, who do you want up to bat with everything on the line? As of today, you want Bruce furthest from that scenario. His clutch factor is so minuscule, it hardly exists.
|2 outs, RISP||293||360||287||56||7||87||70||92||.195||.358||.296||0||0||.261||70|
|Late & Close||343||478||424||100||21||58||49||141||.236||.314||.443||6||3||.298||87|
|Within 1 R||587||1400||1240||294||71||187||138||329||.237||.316||.460||20||10||.262||91|
|Within 2 R||630||1874||1659||413||90||242||191||441||.249||.329||.470||28||11||.284||97|
|Within 3 R||642||2170||1927||481||108||289||217||521||.250||.327||.473||31||12||.285||97|
|Within 4 R||652||2370||2114||532||118||330||228||570||.252||.326||.476||35||14||.288||97|
|Margin> 4 R||186||339||298||84||16||46||34||64||.282||.360||.530||3||3||.308||119|
No spin, no slant. When the game reaches a point of pure pressure, Jay Bruce shrivels and disappears. This season, he’s slated to rake in $7.5 million. And where he’s earned every penny, Reds fans have already witnessed what it’s like to pay a guy who amasses 100+ RBIs and hits 30-40 home runs, but offers nothing when they need it the most.
Comparisons aside, Jay Bruce isn’t Adam Dunn. At age 25, one has to believe Bruce has yet to play his best baseball. But this will be his sixth season in MLB and the Reds may not take that next step until he takes his.