FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. has had three months to reflect on it. So after finally reeling in the Gold Glove Award that he had been on the cusp of for so many years, what word first came out of his mouth when asked about it on Tuesday?"Amazing,"
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. has had three months to reflect on it. So after finally reeling in the Gold Glove Award that he had been on the cusp of for so many years, what word first came out of his mouth when asked about it on Tuesday?
"Amazing," Bradley said.
But here's something equally amazing: The gifted center fielder thinks he can and should be better as a defender than he was during the Red Sox's run to World Series glory in 2018.
Did Bradley think that 2018 was his best defensive season?
"Absolutely not," Bradley said. "No, no. Last year was probably, maybe my worst, in my mind. But it goes to show that sometimes what you think might not be accurate. But I think I can get better and learn some things and still continue to grow."
The fact that Bradley still burns with passion to get better after an American League Championship Series MVP Award, a World Series win and a Gold Glove Award helps to describe how he became one of the elite defenders in the game in the first place.
Pretty much all of the data shows that Bradley was exceptional on defense last year. But there are also some measurements that back Bradley's statement that 2018 wasn't his best with the glove. Remember: The man has set pretty high standards for himself.
Last season, Bradley made 11 Outs Above Average (OAA), which tied for eighth most in the Majors. In 2017, Bradley recorded 15 OAA, ranking sixth.
As Bradley finished a voluntary work day at Boston's Spring Training complex on Tuesday -- six days before position players will have their first formal workout -- he was able to take proper satisfaction in his accomplishment while also realizing what he can do better.
"It's something that I always worked hard for," Bradley said of winning the Gold Glove. "You never want to talk about individual awards, but it's something that I always wanted to be a part of. It's something that I've dreamed of getting one day, and to finally have one, I'm honored to join the elite crew."
What will Bradley be looking to improve on defensively going forward?
"Mainly just making sure that I'm consistent with being aggressive when I need to be, and also, I love trying to keep guys from advancing an extra base," Bradley said. "I think that's very vital in today's game, when 90 feet is at a premium. Sometimes I might have gotten a little overaggressive and attacked the ball too hard and maybe got a particular hop that wasn't pleasant for me and it got by me. Just making sure I kind of know what I'm doing and slow things down."
Did it surprise Bradley when he found out he had won the Gold Glove?
"I never like to say I'm surprised because I worked hard in order to get where I was defensively," Bradley said. "But there was room for improvement for me, and I look forward to trying to improve."
Nobody will be surprised if Bradley does make those improvements. And there will be even less surprise if there are more Gold Gloves in his future.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.