AP NEWS

Jackie Bradley Jr. enjoying one of his hot streaks

June 27, 2017

It’s that time of year again.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has gotten hot. Very hot.

And the Red Sox center fielder hasn’t shown any signs of cooling down for almost six weeks.

Since May 16, Bradley is hitting .323 with nine doubles, one triple, eight homers and 22 walks to go with just 25 strikeouts. His 1.037 OPS in that span ranks fifth in the American League.

“Not uncommon for Jackie,” manager John Farrell said. “One of the best months, or six weeks, a year ago of anybody in baseball. So he’s certainly capable.”

But Bradley has spent the majority of that time hitting seventh in the batting order. It’s where he again found himself last night against Minnesota Twins right-hander Jose Berrios.

Despite having 18 extra-base hits during his 36-game hot streak, Bradley has only 25 RBI. The Red Sox aren’t scoring as frequently as they did last year when Bradley drove in 30 runs with 20 extra-base hits during his 29-game hitting streak. That may be a reason for his lower RBI totals. This year, the Sox are scoring a below-average 4.67 runs per game.

Bradley spent most of his 29-game streak hitting ninth. Has Farrell considered moving Bradley up in the order?

“I don’t know that we’re at that point yet,” Farrell said. “The fact is that Jackie in that seven-hole has given us the ability to extend the lineup at times, particularly when (catchers Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez) have been in the mix there as well with their contributions. I don’t know that we’re looking at wholesale changes to adjust.”

When Farrell moved Bradley to the leadoff spot last May, the center fielder went 0-for-4 and snapped his 29-game streak.

“I think Jackie is at the point in his career where his production isn’t dependent on his spot in the lineup,” Farrell said. “A lot of people said last year that the nine hole was the right place. I don’t know that he’s hit more than a couple games in that spot this year and yet we’re watching a guy over the past four weeks really kind of carry us in a way with the amount of extra base and the slug he’s had there.”

Over Bradley’s five-year major league career, he’s hit best from the six-hole, with a .264 average and .837 OPS. He’s spent the majority of his career in the bottom half of the order, starting only one time each in the leadoff spot and cleanup spot, with four starts from the two-hole.

“I think what it boils down to is when he’s gotten pitches in the strike zone, he hasn’t missed them,” Farrell said. “And he’s done a more consistent job of not expanding out of the strike zone and maybe chasing some pitcher’s pitches. To his credit, he’s confident, laying off some tough pitches till he gets one in the zone.”