"It’s tough," Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. told MassLive.com in 2014. "[I've] never been really known to strike out at this alarming rate but I’m going to keep battling, keep working.”
Bradley Jr. said that in August 2014. Not even two full years ago, Bradley Jr. hit .198/.265/.266 in with 121 strikeouts in 423 plate appearances when given the starting job in Boston.
Maybe he was rushed and just wasn't ready for the big leagues. Bradley Jr. first found himself in the Majors in 2013, just two years after the Red Sox picked him in the 1st round (40th overall) in the 2011 draft out of the University of South Carolina.
Maybe there was too much pressure. The Red Sox were coming off a World Series winning season in 2013, but then went 71-91 the following year.
Bradley Jr. was a consensus top prospect coming into the 2014 season, rated as high as No. 23 in the minor leagues by Baseball Prospectus. Perhaps he just needed time to adjust to Major League pitching.
Whatever the case, Jackie Bradley Jr. has broke out in 2016, building off of some legitimate big league success last year.
In a 28 game stretch rom August 6 to September 7, Bradley Jr. hit .424/.480/.880 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 102 plate appearances. He struck out just 27 times.
"Let’s just say I feel more comfortable," Bradley Jr. told the Boston Globe in 2015. "I'm proud that I never changed as a person. I had to change as a hitter."
And now, Bradley Jr. is beginning to put himself in some rare company.
With a single in the fourth against the Rockies tonight, Bradley Jr. has hit safely in 29 striaght games. Just 47 players in Major League history have a 30+ game hit streak. Bradley Jr. is right on the verge.
"If it's meant to end, it's meant to end," Bradley Jr. told NESN.com on Sunday. "I'm just going to do what I have to do and grind and put together some great at-bats."
Bradley Jr.'s season has been much more than just a streak, however.
Before Wednesday's game, he was hitting .346/.415/.622 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 176 plate appearances. Bradley Jr. has just 34 strikeouts and 17 walks. He has been worth 1.9 fWAR in just 44 games, good for a 6.4 fWAR pace (150 games).
Maybe all Bradley Jr. needed was some time.