Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Spot in Red Sox Starting Lineup is Indefensible

It's time to accept that JBJ is now just the fourth outfielder for the Red Sox.

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(05/19/2018- Boston, MA) Boston Red Sox Jackie Bradley Jr. looks lost as he fans to end the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on Saturday, May 19, 2018. Staff Photo by Matt West

Jackie Bradley Jr. is holding the Boston Red Sox back. And don’t jump on the fact that he finally had an extra base hit on Sunday as a sign that he’s turning things around at the plate.

In 2018, JBJ is hitting just .165 with 9 RBI and 2 home runs. His inclusion in the lineup is puzzling, as it removes either J.D. Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, or Mitch Moreland from a spot in the order. All three, even a struggling Hanley, are a better option that Bradley Jr. Mitch Moreland specifically is the player most impacted vy having Bradley Jr. in the lineup, because that means Martinez is at DH and Ramirez holds onto his spot at first base. That shouldn’t be the case though, and Alex Cora needs to start to make an everyday change.

This would be the optimal Boston lineup everyday, except for rest days:

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Andrew Benintendi, CF
  3. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, LF
  5. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  6. Rafael Devers, 3B
  7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  8. Brock Holt/Eduardo Nunez, 2B
  9. Christian Vazquez/Sandy Leon, C

Of course, Holt and Nunez are interchangeable much like Vazquez and Leon. Honestly though, Holt is the better play right now as he’s had some success in a limited number of at-bats. He’s more than capable of holding down the fort until Pedroia is back, and he’s surely the utility infielder when he does return. In just 76 plate appearances this season, Holt is hitting .329 with 7 RBI and a home run. He’s no offensive stud but in the #8 spot that is tremendous production.

The catchers are a whole other story in their own right when it comes to batting, so we can skip over that for now.

Mitch Moreland simply has to be in the lineup. He is hitting .313 with 21 RBI and 6 homers this year. In just 33 games. Moreland should be hitting early in the lineup, and he should be in there every day. The Red Sox offense is much better when he’s in the game, and Bradley Jr.’s defense is no longer enough to save him.

Bradley Jr. has been his usual gold glove self in center field this season, but the defensive drop off is not that terrible when he’s out of the game. JBJ’s dWAR for 2018 is just 0.2 while Martinez has a dWAR of -0.4 which is a difference of -0.6 wins above replacement when JBJ is out of the lineup. That difference is more than made up by Mitch Moreland’s 1.0 oWAR.

Another interesting note is how much better J.D. Martinez is as a hitter when he’s also in the game as an outfielder. He’s a .396 hitter as an outfielder, but is at just .286 as the DH this season. The power remains consistent no matter what, but that better average has allowed him to drive in a few more runs, and the Red Sox are a lot better when they’re blowing teams out.

This is nothing against JBJ per se it’s just time to make a change. Moreland has to get into the lineup everyday which means Jackie has to sit. He’ll still get into games late for defense or for others to get rest. He just doesn’t deserve an everyday slot right now.