Among the buzz concerning the Reds entering 2011 was that of right fielder Jay Bruce. The 12th overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft has proven to be a big hit, not only on the field, but with the fans as well.
It hasn’t all been sunny for the native of Beaumont, Texas. He has faced struggles since arriving in Cincinnati, but Reds GM Walt Jocketty knew what Bruce meant to the future of the Reds. In the offseason, Bruce inked a six-year, $51 million deal. The Reds also hold an option for an extra year which could land Bruce an extra $13 million (with a $1 million buyout of the Reds do not pick up that option).
Yes, life is pretty darn good for Jay Bruce; however, with the tremendous amount of expectations that have been placed on him, it’s bound to happen that there will be instances where we get a little disgruntled with his performance. Oh, he hasn’t played every game out in right, but he makes up an overwhelming number of games played at the position.
If we have all learned one thing about Bruce. it’s that he is streaky at the plate. Extremely streaky. There’s no better sign of his “streakiness” than how he has performed on a month-by-month basis.
We all are well aware of how awesome Bruce played in May. Those numbers garnered him the NL Player of the Month. By stark contrast, he struggled in April and June. Funny thing is, his June didn’t get off to that bad of a start. For the first 10 games of the month, he posted splits of .289/.372/.421 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. The power and run production fell off, but his BA and OBP were still rather respectable as both still were above his career numbers in each. And he did score 7 runs in those 10 games.
The last 15 games told a different story: .167/.250/.296, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 21 SO, 5 BB. Whenever Bruce has a high ratio of strikeouts to walks, he will suffer in the splits…and all offensive categories. As I have stated here previously (on more than one occasion), Bruce’s knack for being streaky was a reason I would still be hesitant to place him in the cleanup spot in the batting order. Everyone has a slump. Even Joey Votto recently went through a slump. Those slumps for Bruce are little more extended.
It’s that lack of consistency that is a slight concern to me. I know Bruce will eventually snap out of it. It’s a matter of when. ANd opposing teams should be concerned that he will snap out of it when they are in the other dugout. When Bruce breaks out, he breaks out.
That time. It’s a bit difficult for me to assign a grade for Bruce despite the lapses in consistency. Why? He is my favorite player on the Reds roster. If I could go by month it would be: C, A, C-. I suppose when I average them, it’s about a B-. I will leave the grade at that and add this into the mix as to why the “-“. Bruce has already committed as many errors this season as he did for all of 2010. His RF/9 and RF/G are below league average, too. Last year, he was well above those averages.