Bradley's defense drawing rave reviews
TORONTO -- No one said it would be easy to replace Jacoby Ellsbury's production in center field, but the Red Sox are pleased with the job Jackie Bradley Jr. has done.
Bradley Jr. is a work in progress at the plate -- he entered Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays hitting just .225, though he did hit an RBI single in the second inning off R.A. Dickey. His defense, however, is getting plenty of attention.
The 24-year-old recorded the last out of Saturday's 7-6 win on a difficult hard-hit liner, and has flashed great instincts to track down a number of other balls during the series. Right-hander Clay Buchholz raved about him after the contest, and manager John Farrell was still talking up his defense Sunday.
"The way Jackie has played center field, he's an elite defender out there," Farrell said. "He has saved a couple of runs already and been outstanding. His routes are precise and it's impressive."
Advanced defensive metrics back up Farrell's assessment. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), a defensive statistic on Fangraphs.com, which factors in range and arm strength, in addition to other things, to place a run value on a player's defense, has Bradley with the third-highest UZR among center fielders behind the Angels' Mike Trout and Seattle's Abraham Almonte.
"When you don't get it done on one side of the ball, I think it's very vital you get it done on the other side," Bradley said. "That's something I'm always going to take pride in. Defensively, I'm going to make sure I do everything in my power to get it done."