2011 Reds

Jay Bruce Will Be Just Fine

Over his first 10 games of the season, which caused some fans a bit of panic, Jay Bruce was batting just .211 with a season-low .488 OPS. He had walked just once while accumulating 15 strikeouts.

In the 20 games since his lowest point of the season, including Thursday’s game, Bruce has hit .282 with a .941 OPS. His walk-to-strikeout ratio has been a much more patient 11-to-15 over 71 at-bats.

Period AB Hits HR BB K AVG OBP SLG
1st 10 games 38 8 0 1 15 .211 .225 .263
Last 20 games 71 20 6 11 15 .282 .378 .563
All 30 games 109 28 6 12 30 .257 .328 .459

27 thoughts on “Jay Bruce Will Be Just Fine

  1. its pretty amusing to see how good a hitter jay bruce is when he is drawing walks. when hes around a 1:1ish ratio hes always been a .900+ OPS bat.

  2. Until Bruce learns to lay off bad pitches, go the other way and adjust to what pitchers are doing to him more quickly, he is going to be streaky.

    I agree that it is frustrating, just remember that he is always 1 swing away, while providing Gold Glove defense.

  3. Someone should forward this to Mo at 1530 since all he has talked about the last two days is how Bruce needs to step it up and he hasn’t.

  4. “Just fine” is not defined. What does it mean?

    Repeating what I said earlier, for Bruce to be elite he must display plate discipline all year, not just during his hot streaks. He’ll have slumps, sure, but if he has discipline they won’t be as deep, and his hot streaks will remain unchanged. That’s what’s needed.

    This is exactly shown in the stats above. You’ve got a guy producing at too low of a clip overall despite the fact that in 2/3 of the season he’s at .941! Plate discipline will avoid the absolutely horrible first 1/3, and he’d be fine overall. Jay Bruce can’t put up a sub .800 OPS over the season, or the Reds are going to be in trouble, IMO.

  5. @Dave Lowenthal:
    I’m guessing “just fine” means about the same as last year. I would call that a loss. At his age, with his tools, it shouldnt be difficult to see the improvements and adjustments he is making to get better. Instead, during those first 10 games, he simply looked lost. We really need him to take the next step, on his way to the elite status that his potential suggests.

    On a related note, does it seem to anyone else that once our young prospects reach the majors, many of them have leveled off instead of continuing to improve? Votto is the exception, to be sure. But Bruce, Stubbs, Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Fransisco seem to have the same shortcomings as when they first got here.

    • @Dave Lowenthal:
      I’m guessing “just fine” means about the same as last year. I would call that a loss. At his age, with his tools, it shouldnt be difficult to see the improvements and adjustments he is making to get better. Instead, during those first 10 games, he simply looked lost. We really need him to take the next step, on his way to the elite status that his potential suggests.

      On a related note, does it seem to anyone else that once our young prospects reach the majors, many of them have leveled off instead of continuing to improve? Votto is the exception, to be sure. But Bruce, Stubbs, Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Fransisco seem to have the same shortcomings as when they first got here.

      Bruce will be just fine? It’s nice to be welcomed with comedy.

      As for Stubbs, I feel he was the most ready of all the guys you listed. He has a learning curve like all young players but he hasn’t looked as lost as Bruce does from time to time since June of 2010.

      Bailey and Cueto, like Bruce, were rushed to Cincinnati to sell tickets. Cueto has been good for 170 innings every single year. Bailey has been hardheaded and injured but hopefully yesterday was the start of something special. Cueto had a handful of innings at AAA when he made the team out of camp in 2008.

      Volquez was severely mishandled in Texas’ system and outside of rehab, has never pitched in the minors as a Red. He was an All-Star the second we traded for him and simply got hurt the following year. The lack of patience fans have had with Volquez has been unreal, whereas trading prospects for, and extending an aging third basemen’s contract that the team knows can’t play over 100 games has been welcomed with open arms by the fans and especially the local media that fawn over Rolen like schoolgirls do Justin Bieber.

      Francisco is another prospect who the Reds haven’t fully developed but have forced into the big league picture. If they wanted a player with tons of power and no throwing skill, the Reds should have kept Encarnacion and put him on the bench.

      Just because a player is tearing up minor leaguers doesn’t mean that you have to promote them to the big club. Dave Sappelt anyone?

    • @Dave Lowenthal:I’m guessing “just fine” means about the same as last year. I would call that a loss. At his age, with his tools, it shouldnt be difficult to see the improvements and adjustments he is making to get better. Instead, during those first 10 games, he simply looked lost. We really need him to take the next step, on his way to the elite status that his potential suggests.

      Let’s say, at worst, repeating last year’s totals is “just fine”…he had a 127 OPS+ and was one of the best defensive right fielders in the game in 2010. Seems pretty good to me.

      When I put this together last night, I thought “just fine” would be an even better season than last year.

      His OPS+ for the 2011 season is now 115. (OPS+ is ballpark adjusted OPS relative to the league average, where the league average OPS+ is 100.)

      All players have some degree of streakiness. Even “elite status” players like Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez have bad streaks. Bruce’s 2011 stats are better than both of these guys so far. Pujols through his first 10 games this year was batting .150 with a .447 OPS. He also GIDP 7 times in those first 10 games. The Cardinals are certainly glad they didn’t lock him into a long-term extension!

  6. @jrob45601 Where do you get your facts?

    Johnny Cueto’s season WAR from 2008-2010: 1.2, 1.5, 2.8

    Jay Bruce’s season WAR from 2008-2010: 0.8, 1.7, 5.2

    Drew Stubbs’ season WAR from 2009-2010: 1.4, 3.3

    Also, keep in mind these guys are still very young and haven’t even entered typical peak performance years. Best has yet to come.😆

    • @jrob45601 Where do you get your facts?

      Johnny Cueto’s season WAR from 2008-2010: 1.2, 1.5, 2.8

      Jay Bruce’s season WAR from 2008-2010: 0.8, 1.7, 5.2

      Drew Stubbs’ season WAR from 2009-2010: 1.4, 3.3

      Also, keep in mind these guys are still very young and haven’t even entered typical peak performance years. Best has yet to come.

      I didnt use any facts. I even use the word “seem,” as in how it looks to me. but lets go over those facts.

      Bruce didnt start 08 in the bigs, and was injured for part of 09. So no wonder his WAR made a big jump in 10.

      Stubbs came up late in 09, so his increase in 10 is also mostly just being here longer.

      When Cueto came up, everyone kept saying “when he puts it all together.” Even last year, his best so far, people were still saying that.

      So i dont see much improvement. But now for some (cherry picked) stats.

      Bruce OPS: .767, .773, .846
      So yes, improvement last year, but looked totally lost to begin the season. If he gets above .880 this year, then we can say he has improved.

      Stubbs: .762, .773
      Not much improvement there, and .779 so far this year looks like more of the same.

      Cueto WHIP: 1.41, 1.36, 1.28 (all with lowering strikeout rates)
      So he has shown improvement, but not as much as his lower ERA from last year looks.

  7. Hopefully Dusty and Brook Jacoby will continue to pound into Bruce’s head that he needs to go the other way more. I think with more experience and maturity Bruce will learn to adapt to pitchers and use the whole field. He has the ability to do it. You see what he can do when he gets on these streaks. You just keep on hoping he’ll put it all together to do this with greater consistency.

    Of course, maybe this is the year he’ll do it, and he just had a rough start to the year. Either way, it’s a big year for him as he continues to grow. We better hope he breaks out, because he’s here for another 6 years, lol. The Reds will go as far as he does. My money’s on Bruce.

  8. Off topic, but I found it interesting – Due to Mondays rain-out, a series @ the Cubs, and next Wednesdays ‘get away day game’ The Reds are in a stretch of 7 day games out of 10 games…A little unusual?

  9. people want bruce to be joey votto. even before the start of the year, lots of people were saying that this would/should be the year he rises up to challenge joey as the best hitter on the team… bruce is three or four years younger than votto. its not a fair comparison to make, considering the age difference.

  10. @Greg Dafler: I know you weren’t replying to me (but to a reply to me), but anyways…

    1. IMO a 127 OPS+ is “fine” in some sense, but it is clearly not elite for a right fielder.

    2. His OPS+ right now is kind of irrelevant, I’m interested in the whole season (it was 98 before the game yesterday, now 115—it’s early.)

    3. Streakiness is not the point. Lack of plate discipline is the point. And I still believe he was brought up too early. So does Steve Price, I believe, so it’s not an outlandish, reactionary point of view. Not that it matters now, of course.

    4. I agree that “just fine” would be taking one more step than last year, say an OPS+ of 135.

    Again, I’m talking about what it takes to be the elite player that it seems many here think he will be. (Or some believe he’ll be Wayne Krenchicki at the plate, it seems.) Jay Bruce is not an elite player at this point, and frankly, I do not think he will be one. I hope I’m wrong. If he improves discipline at the plate, he could well be elite.

    Saying that Pujols and Ramirez have had slumps is kind of silly. When Bruce puts up 3 elite years in a row (like Ramirez), no one will worry about this sort of thing.

  11. I tend to agree that Bruce was rushed because he was tearing up AAA and Corey Patterson was so miserable. He didn’t yet have the plate discipline to succeed. He still looks like a guy who relies on guessing which pitch is coming, and who is highly dependent on being ahead in the count to narrow a pitcher’s options down to a pitch that he expects. The truly gifted hitters like Votto can look fastball and recognize a breaking ball in an instant. You can literally see him make the adjustment on the fly. So, plate discipline is the key for Bruce, and probably why he hits better while he’s walking more.

  12. @cliff: All of what you say here I would agree with.

    And, I would also agree with Dave Lowenthal that this business about “streakiness” gets thrown around too often instead of simply seeing exactly how he’s unable to hit various pitches. Bruce, like most, must learn to hit to the opposite field instead of always seeing the ball out over the plate. Sometimes a player will go for a long time without seeing those belt-high pitches (and Bruce is a tall man) – it’s about being a smart batter on every pitch of an at-bat. As I’ve said though, Jay Bruce should be platooned for or otherwise, just like Gomes, if production doesn’t outpace current stats before the All-Star break. I could easily see the Reds having to reconfigure the outfield corner positions at some point in the season. Any younger team in a similar kind of situation (one without a track record of playoff success) can easily hollow out if it keeps burning up quality pitching performances😉 .

    I hate to beat a dead horse, but again, take a look at B.P. or Votto when they’re in the box. They look like hidden dragon, crouching-tigers: alert, calm, prepared to pounce, and not just in one direction! It’s good to be active, but Gomes could dial it down somewhat. I’m not a batting instructor, I’ll admit, but I have played the game and it seems to me that Jay Bruce could attack the opposite part of the field better if he widened his stance a little.

  13. @cliff: I think you’re speaking some truth here Cliff. Turns out Votto isn’t normal, and asking Bruce or anyone else to “improve” like he has isn’t fair.

    @jrob45601: Along the line of looking at how people have improved… while I acknowledge the fact you recognized you cherry picked the stats, I’m not sure what value harping on a single statisitical category is against something like WAR, which is a much more comprehensive look at the player. If we are looking for people to improve by all-star appearences and mvp trophies, I think we miss the forrest for the trees.

  14. @Matt WI:
    I agree that WAR is a better stat with which to make comparisons in most cases. But it is a cumulative stat, so in the case of Stubbs and Bruce, the differences in playing time can account for a large amount of their respective increases. Near season’s end when more can be made of this years stats, it may be very easy to see improvements from these players, among others. But it just doesnt seem like they have gotten much better as far as approach goes.

  15. cliff said: “bruce is three or four years younger than votto. its not a fair comparison to make, considering the age difference.” Bruce is still very young and he was treated as if he was another level better than Drew Stubbs.

    About “streakiness” – it gets thrown around too often instead of considering what constitutes smart AB’s over an extended amount of time. Bruce, like most, must learn to hit to the opposite field instead of always seeing the ball out over the plate. Sometimes you will go for a long time without seeing those pitches – it’s about being a smart batter on every pitch of an at-bat. As I’ve said though, Jay Bruce should be platooned for or otherwise dealt with, just like Gomes. If production doesn’t outpace current stats before the All-Star break something needs to be done. I could easily see the Reds having to reconfigure the outfield corner positions at some point in the season. Any younger team without a track record of playoff success can easily hollow out if it wastes too many quality pitching efforts😉. Bruce should widen his stance in order to see and be comfortable going opposite field.

  16. His 2010 OPS+ of 127 ranks 22nd among all NL (qualified) hitters, and I don’t think that his best year is behind him.

    Saying that Pujols and Ramirez have had slumps is kind of silly. When Bruce puts up 3 elite years in a row (like Ramirez), no one will worry about this sort of thing.

    He’s signed for the next 6-7 years. He’s not going to get sent to AAA or put in a platoon situation because of his stats after ANY stretch of just 10 baseball games. My point in bringing up those two wasn’t to compare them to Bruce, but to show that anyone’s stats – even the elite hitters – can look bad in a 10-game stretch (or longer).

  17. @BigRedMatt:
    The key to Bruce’s improvement is his pitch recognition/selection. If he can stop getting himself out by swinging at bad pitches or trying to pull everything, then all of his numbers should increase greatly compared to last year.

    Of course, its very easy to say that, but some players just never figure it out. Adam Dunn is still a “dead guess” kind of guy. He guesses right, he hits it to the moon. Guess wrong and, well, he does that about 180 times a year. I would hate for Bruce to never improve beyond that.

    But better pitch selection doesnt necessarily equate to success either. Everyone should agree that Jonny Gomes is recognizing and laying off bad pitches much better so far this year than he ever has. But he still isnt hitting.

  18. @Greg Dafler:
    Hey, I agree with you totally. I am of the firm belief that Bruce will have a very good season, and quite possibly an incredible career. Its just very frustrating that he still goes through these extreme highs and lows without seeming to make any adjustments.

  19. If Bruce ends up being Adam Dunn + Defense, then the Reds are going to be VERY happy. Fans way over value contact hitting in general. If Bruce ends up being Paul O’Neill…well then, I don’t think we can complain either (btw, Bruce’s WAR last season was better than any season in O’Neill’s career except for 1. I think we’d gladly take that. I’m not sure where all these ridiculous expectations came from? Bruce shows flashes of being a superstar but I’m not going to be disappointed if he turns out to be pretty much what he is now.

  20. @Greg Dafler: I am sure you were not referring to me; I have never said Bruce should be sent to AAA; I have maintained that at worst, Bruce will return above average value for the contract he signed (at best, incredible value). One does not have to be an elite player to earn 10M/year or whatever they signed him for.

    I am not worried about a slump. I am worried about plate discipline in general. I am not and have never been impressed with the way he controls the plate.

  21. plate discipline is something that can come with age. although some players arrive at the major league level with this skill, not everyone is that mature. its something some of the truly elite hitters can pick up with repetition. so lets not discount the fact that a 24 year old might still improve in that regard. he also wouldnt be the first to slump in the beginning of the first year of a big contract when youre trying to justify the teams investment. evan longoria, ryan braun, and even joe mauer had some struggles early on.

  22. wow–rough crowd! I think Bruce is currently above average, not elite. That’s what made him signable. I think he is improving, but it takes some time. He started slowly but he’s doing well at the moment. We don’t really know what the rest of the year holds yet, but I like what we are getting from him. I don’t disagree with the points about plate discipline. I don’t know that he will ever get to the point where he hits .330 with a .400+ OBP. But I do think he will hit for more power as he goes along, and that is a very good thing, since he already hits for good power.

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