Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Doubting Jay Bruce? Why?

Something I'm hearing quite a bit lately: "I'm still not sold on Jay Bruce"

The sentence preceding the one above usually comes out of my mouth, and it usually goes something like this: "Hey idiot! Turn the Reds game back on! Bruce is up 7th this inning!

Every time I hear these words I want to bang my head against the coffee table (or at least throw my pet turtle Roger through the window). Jay Bruce turned 22 last week! He crushed the highest levels of minor league pitching when his age suggested he should've either been (a.) struggling mightily or (b.) playing against weaker competition in lower levels. He became baseball's No. 1 overall prospect because he earned it, not because he was blessed with raw ability; it doesn't work that way. Trust me, the best players in Major League Baseball were also the best players in the minors. Jay Bruce was one of the best down there, and will become one of the best up here. He made it to Cincinnati shortly after turning 21 and proceeded to hit 21 HRs in 108 games. The list of modern-day mammals who have done that, predictably, is pretty short, and it includes names like Griffey, Pujols and Rodriguez.

Are you really considering a leap off the Jay Bruce Bandwagon after a couple of three-strikeout games?

Like Jay Bruce, Ryan Braun comes from the frighteningly-deep 2005 draft. Braun, as you may have heard, owns one of the most impressive two-year stretches to begin a baseball career. Unlike Jay Bruce, Ryan Braun spent his early twenties starring at the University of Miami, possessor of one of the nation's finest baseball programs.

Braun's magical rookie year came at the age of 23, and again, Bruce turned 22 just last week. He'll have 500-plus more at-bats on the back of his baseball card before he turns 23, and in the world of baseball, for a guy who is barely old enough to legally consume blueberry vodka, 500 at-bats means everything.

So, while I'm not saying his 2010 will be as great as Ryan Braun's 2007, I am saying that another year under his belt will allow him time to close the gap dramatically. Although it's true I'm writing these words because I'm hoping Jay Bruce becomes a once-in-a-generation superstar, it's also because it's more likely to happen than you might realize. When he hopelessly flails against dominant lefties, it's part of the maturation process -- not an indicator of things to come.

Simply put: Jay Bruce is nowhere near a finished product, but he's still pretty damn good right now.

Don't believe me?

Then join me this season as I watch the pup struggle his way through a 30-HR season.

-Brad Spieser (


Stuart said...

What is with you and blueberry vodka?

Twin Killing dot Com said...

Mostly, it's delicious