Boston, Massachusetts - Jackie Bradley, Jr. is probably the best defensive player on the Boston Red Sox, which is saying something when you consider that Mookie Betts was named the best defensive player in all of baseball by Wilson in all of 2016. But I firmly believe that Bradley has the best glove on the entire team, outside of Dustin Pedroia, but he’s been hurt so it might be Bradley anyway.
Throughout the beginning of the 2018 season, many fans clamored for the team to trade Bradley because of his lackluster offensive performance. It was as if defense was completely worthless. Besides, Bradley might not be the best hitting center fielder in Red Sox history or even in the top three of the American League East, but I never forgot his clutch home run and five RBI performance against the Houston Astros in the 2017 ALDS, which gave Boston a fighting chance in the series. It seemed like he had the clutch gene. He just had to prove himself.
And he did that in spades in the 2018 playoffs. A middling ALDS performance gave way to a .200 batting average showing in the ALCS that was largely supported by his clutch two-out hitting, including a go ahead double and a grand slam that led him to two home runs and nine RBIs on just three hits. This activity was enough to win him the ALCS MVP trophy at the end of the series. He also tied the third game of the World Series with a late solo shot that prompted a heap of extra innings.
It’s probably cliche to say, but Bradley was so valuable to the offense this year because of his intangibles. He just had the clutch gene that Boston has missed since David Ortiz retired. But still, his best contributions came by way of the glove. Bradley finally won his first Gold Glove in 2018 after being snubbed so often before. But he was so deserving, the award was certainly not an apology trophy. He posted a .984 fielding percentage in center field that came with catching all sorts of balls that no other center fielder would have ever dared for. He might just be the best defensive center fielder in Red Sox history. And that’s valuable.