Earlier this season, Jackie Bradley Jr. was in the zone during a 29-game hitting streak, the longest in Major League Baseball in 2016 and fourth-longest in Boston Red Sox history.
It didn’t last, but the former University of South Carolina star has kept hitting. In 74 games, he is batting .294 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs. Barring a late sway in voting for the MLB All-Star Game, he’ll be announced next week as a starter in the American League outfield.
“It (the streak) was fun to be a part of,” Bradley said during a recent series in Texas. “It’s good to see the results show the work that you put in.”
The 40th pick in the 2011 draft, Bradley enjoyed being in an offensive groove during the streak, but helping the Red Sox win plenty of games during that run made it more meaningful.
“Absolutely, anytime you can help out as much as possible, it is a bonus,” he said. “During that particular time, it felt like I was just getting good pitches to hit and I was taking full advantage of them.”
John Farrell is the only manager Bradley has known as a big leaguer. In the three years since Bradley debuted in the Red Sox outfield, Farrell has noticed steady progression in his game.
“He’s probably changed offensively as much as anyone in our uniform,” Farrell said. “Went from a guy who really tried to work counts, see a lot of pitches, found himself down in a lot of pitcher counts so often in that first full season for us, he’s had to revamp his approach at the plate.”
Bradley has made immense strides in every facet of his game, an evolution resulting from hard work and becoming more comfortable in the majors.
“There’s going to be an adjustment period, and it’s going to take a little time for you to get used to people,” Bradley said. “At the end of the day, these are the guys that you’re going to go to battle with every single day. You got to be able to get through some things and have each other’s back.”
One aspect of being with the Red Sox that didn’t take him long to get used to and appreciate is just how special it is to be able to call Fenway Park home 81 times per season.
“It’s cool,” Bradley said. “It’s very unique. It’s a historic ballpark, and a lot of people really care for that ballpark.”
Bradley was a rookie the last time Boston made the playoffs in 2013, when he was left off the postseason roster. So as the Red Sox occupy the first AL wild card spot and could be in position for a return to the playoffs, he wants to do all he can to help them get there.
“I think it’s everyone’s goal,” Bradley Jr. said. “It’s definitely our goal, definitely want to make it to the postseason and excel in the postseason as well.
“Our main goal is to be there at the end and, hopefully, win a championship.”