Jay Bruce played in 160 of 162 games in 2013.
In his six years as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, Jay Bruce has taken his fair share of lumps from fans, writers, radio and TV voices, and bloggers. I admittedly include myself as I, too, have been critical of Bruce. You wouldn’t think that would be the case since Bruce is honestly my favorite player on the roster.
Well, here’s my assessment of Bruce and his 2013 season.
For the first time in his career, Bruce did not improve upon his home run total from the previous season. He ended 2013 right at 30. He did eclipse his career high in RBI with 109, which led the team. But I noticed something else from his 2013.
In past seasons, Bruce would post that one torrid month where he simply blistered the ball and would have a batting average in the .350 range. He would also have a month where he was completely dreadful and that BA would end up below the Mendoza line. That was as much the case in 2013.
This is a bit more consistent, something Bruce has been striving for over the past couple of seasons.
In looking at those last two months, we can see that Bruce did “slow down”. Is it possible playing and starting in 160 games wore down the Reds right fielder?
But I want to point out a few more items before revealing my offensive grade for Bruce.
First, some of the criticism levied at Bruce was he has become “GABP dependent”, or he was a product of Great American Ball Park. This past season was the complete opposite.
Second, some Reds fans had outwardly scuffled with the fact that former manager Dusty Baker was hesitant to put Bruce in the cleanup spot. Maybe whoever takes over the team won’t be so hesitant once he views these numbers.
Those home numbers aren’t pleasant.
Next, there’s the issue for how Bruce – and the Reds as a while – hit with two outs and runners in scoring position. As a team, Cincy posted a triple slash of .203/.345/.319. Now look at Bruce’s: .173/.343/.333.
Finally, from 2011 to 2013, Bruce’s walk rate has decreased while his strikeout rate has increased.
BB%: 10.7% – 9.8% – 9.0%
SO%: 23.8% – 24.5% – 26.5%
That 26.5% for 2013 was the highest of Bruce’s career. Can the “new regime” aid Bruce in repairing this in any manner?
Grade: B; Sure, the whiffs can get to me as well, and if Bruce had been his “normal self” at GABP, he would have undoubtedly posted his best season ever all the way around.
30 and 100 in one swing…
What’s most known about Bruce’s defense is his arm. In two of the last three season, Bruce has amassed double digits in outfield assists 10 in 2011 and 13 in 2013). But that’s not the only area where Bruce improved from a defensive standpoint.
Bruce also posted his highest DRS with 18 defensive runs saved. He also made more plays out of his zone (85) than in any other season. And let’s add that Bruce’s RZR for 2013 was his best ever at .968.
And how do those numbers stack up against other NL RFers?
The assists is second highest to Gerardo Parra‘s 15. (Parra had a total of 17 outfield assists, highest in NL.) And those 13 assists were third most among all NL OFers. Bruce also was second to Parra in DRS (36), but Bruce’s RZR was tops in the NL. Parra’s was third. The 85 plays out of the zone ranked him fourth in the NL.
Yes, you will see the odd-looking play from Bruce such as diving when it isn’t necessary or we all know there’s no way he can make any type of play on the ball. You have the weirdness of a dropped ball, but I doubt there could be any argument that Bruce isn’t among the NL’s best defensive outfielder, regardless of position.
Grade: A-; Bruce should at least be among the final three for the Gold Glove again this season, but we know how that whole deal works.
I’ve learned to expect Bruce to give us about 30 homers a season, somewhere around 95 RBI, hit in the mid-.260’s and own a slugging percentage in the .480’s. Kind of had those expectations heading into this past season and I will continue to hold those. The consistency with the bat was a little better even though there were those infamous slumps.
Could add the plus here that I didn’t with BP and not feel as sheepish in doing so.
I’ll save the plus for next season.