In football you have the shutdown cornerback, who takes half the field and locks down the opposing team’s top receiving threat. In baseball you have the dominant closer, who comes in and shuts the door in the ninth inning to preserve a win.
With the play of Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr, throughout his career on the defense, we’re dubbing him MLB’s shutdown outfielder. It’s a position that has never really been specifically identified until now.
Bradley possesses a great glove, elite range, speed, and of course very good arm-strength to make the throws necessary from the outfield, saving runs.
After spending a year with the Milwaukee Brewers., Bradley is back in the friendly confines of Boston’s Fenway Park, where it takes outfielders years to master the intricacies of the Green Monster.
And while he’s never had a big bat (he’s registered just 13 “dingers” the last two seasons), he stays with a job because his defense saves runs that his bat can’t drive in.
He’s straight up and down not in the MLB to hit. Yeah, you heard that right. JBJ could hit .052 and Red Sox manager Joey Cora would still feel confident in throwing him out there, so his defense can impact the game.
Bradley’s (.283) batting average in 2020 was the highest of his 10-year career. This season through three games he had no hits in seven plate appearances.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 17, 2017
Bradley Is a Defensive Wiz: Makes The Tough Catches Look Routine
The former South Carolina Gamecocks outfielder is a natural centerfielder but has also dabbled in the all three outfield spots throughout his career. This season he’ll play right field for the BoSox. Bradley Jr., uses his elite speed, IQ, range and instincts to make catches that most would call otherworldly look ordinary. With manager Cora wanting to get back to the dominant defense the Red Sox displayed in winning the 2018 Fall Classic, bringing JBJ back was a no-brainer.
In Bradley’s year away from the team, Kike Hernandez became one of the top center fielders in the game, pushing JBJ to right field. Playing right field at Fenway Park is no easy feat, but if anyone can handle the transition it’s the defensive wiz JBJ.
Jackie Bradley Jr. WHAT A CATCH 😱 @BRWalkoff
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 16, 2021
Bradley Jr Was Traded Back To Boston While At A Wedding
After another year of great glove work, Bradley Jr was all but certain that he’d be spending another year in “Cream City”, but he was surprisingly traded back to the Red Sox. The trade occurred while JBJ was at former teammate and close friend Mookie Betts’ wedding. Bradley talked about how awkward it was.
“So here’s the real story. I actually come out of the wedding. So it’s during the reception now. It was Markus’ wedding actually. We weren’t allowed to have our phones. So there was a special, designated area to where you could have your phone. So I just happened to come out and call my wife. Five seconds after I hang up the phone, I get a call. He was like, it’s back to the Red Sox. And I was like, Wow. WoW I mean, I didn’t really have anything to say, I was kind of in shock. I was still actually present somewhere else.”
Bradley’s defense is second-to-none and that dynamic played a huge role in the Boston winning the World Series in 2018. When you watch him in the outfield you get Torii Hunter aka “SpiderMan”, vibes. Even though you don’t get the same stick, Bradley’s always capable of hitting a lick with a spectacular grab. He’s a shutdown outfielder. One of a kind because his defense is what makes him a pro.