It is not easy being Jay Bruce. Can I get an amen out there?
In 2004 Jacob Cohen published a biography entitled, “It Ain’t Easy Being Me”. You may know him better by his celebrity name, Rodney Dangerfield. He is more notorious for the phrase, “I get no respect.”
Both of those quotes could easily be tied to Cincinnati Reds right-fielder Jay Bruce. I am quite certain that at this point this season he could echo both of those sentiments. What’s that, you say he doesn’t deserve any respect? Shame on you.
The man is barely 26 years of age, and just shed about 20 pounds of “baby fat” a year ago. He has increased his power numbers in each of his first five seasons in MLB. Not too many people can lay claim to that fact.
When he was promoted to the big leagues in 2008, it was in sink-or-swim fashion. Going into his sixth season, Bruce still has minor league options. Is that what you think, a trip to Louisville might help?
I don’t think something like that would do him any good at all. He is struggling, certainly, but that is what he does. We are just not accustomed to it happening right after opening the box. He has appeared in 35 games thus far and at that time last season he was hitting .300 with 10 HR and 27 RBI. Right now he is hitting .248 with a pair of dingers and 17 RBI.
Here is one statistic that speaks way too loudly. In 2012 after 35 games Bruce had 144 PA and struck out 28 times. In 156 PA now he has struck out a league-leading 49 times. That is 31 percent of his times in the batter’s box. To put a correct frame around that number, Drew Stubbs struck out 30 percent of his plate appearances in 2011 when he led the league with 205.
He came to the Reds with great expectations from Cincinnati fans everywhere. Can you recall the start he had? In the first seven games of his career his line was .577/.667/1.038 to go along with his 3 HR and 7 RBI. He only whiffed once in his first 33 PA.
No, it isn’t easy being Jay Bruce. That must be how Mickey Mantle felt after he was sent down to the minor leagues in 1951. That was his rookie season, and just after the All-star break he was sent to the Yankees Triple-A affiliate Kansas City Blues. He had been hitting .260 with 7 HR in his first 69 games and appeared to be trying too hard to live up to his father’s expectations.
Mantle was with the Blues for 40 games and after batting .361 with 11 HR and 50 RBI he was called back up. He never looked back.
Am I suggesting Bruce being given a sabbatical to the farm? No I am not. I do think he is trying too hard to please his fans and is self-destructing in the process. I am not a batting coach, and I do not claim to be uber-intelligent. Heck, I still can’t figure out what makes Ivory soap float in the tub.
Someone on that squad (I believe that would be Brook Jacoby) is being paid to analyze and repair broken batters. 4-1-1 to Jacoby…we have a broken power hitter…approximately 26 years old…Caucasian male…last seen in right field…looks like he is not seeing the ball real well…can you help him? If you can’t just say so, and perhaps Walt Jocketty will find someone who can.
As Reds’ fans know only too well, when Bruce is hot, there is absolutely nobody better. No not even Joey Votto. When he isn’t…well, he just isn’t.
He hit a homer yesterday against the Atlanta Braves, so perhaps he will build on that and forge a hot streak that will last at least until the All-star break.
Perhaps a good dose of Milwaukee Brewer pitching will function as a recipe for change. That is his favorite team in terms of home runs. He has hit 21 against them and has a decent slash line of .288/.373/.617.
This table shows his numbers against the scheduled starters for this weekend series:
Statistics from Baseball-Reference.com
Some times that is all it takes. When you know you own somebody, you just own them. Thanks in advance Brewer pitching for what will come your way.
Follow me on Twitter.
Read more of my work on my blog.