Remember last month, when Jackie Bradley Jr. was tearing up the Grapefruit League and it seemed borderline crazy to send him to the minors for his first sip of Triple-A protein smoothie?
Thanks to an injury-depleted roster, Bradley did break camp with the big club. And now he's heading to Pawtucket:
Bradley's first taste of the majors didn't go according to plan. After tearing the cover off the ball during spring training, the rookie struggled mightily upon making the team's Opening Day roster. Bradley, who turns 23 on Friday, hit .097 (3-for-31).
The move isn't all that surprising, as it was expected to come at some point. Bradley certainly has a bright future ahead of him, though, so we just may see him back in Boston before long.
We just may. Or might, depending on your grammatical bent.
Look, it's only 31 at-bats. If he's got seven or eight more hits, which is well within the realm of The Possible, we're having an entirely different sort of conversation. But then again, that's sort of the point. When you're talking about 31 at-bats, just about anything may (or might) happen. Coincidentally enough, Bradley picked up exactly twice as many at-bats in major-league spring training; the principle isn't exactly the same for 62 at-bats as for 31. But it's close.
Essentially,spring is a case study for aspiring statistical analysts. It's just possible, is it, that a player could collect 28 hits in 62 at-bats ... and then 3 hits in 31 at-bats? Well, yes, it is possible. Obviously. It's not at all likely. Those 28 hits in 62 at-bats did suggest that Jackie Bradley Jr. is a capable major-league hitter. Of course, his .271 batting average in 229 Double-A at-bats last season suggested something else. And suggested it more strongly.
Bradley actually turns 23 today, and is still a fine prospect. But he will, I suspect, live for some years as an object lesson for Red Sox fans (and yes, writers too). Spring-training statistics are a lot of fun, but they're merely a snapshot in time, and they describe the random nature of raw performance statistics as much as they describe fundamental abilities.
Of course, the great news for the Red Sox is that Bradley's .097 batting average didn't really hurt them at all. They've got the second-best record in the American League, and now they're getting their best hitter back. Speaking of small sample sizes, it's too early to anoint the Red Sox as favorites -- you know, seeing as how just a few weeks ago we all had them figured for fourth or fifth place. But you'd rather be 11-4 on the 19th of April than 4-11. Just like you'd rather hit .462 than .097.
For more about Jackie Bradley, Jr. and the Red Sox, please visit SB Nation's Over the Monster.