If you follow me on Twitter or read my work regularly, you should know two things about me. The first is that I hate Lebron James. The second is that Jackie Bradley Jr. is my favorite baseball player and I think he’s one of the greatest defensive outfielders of all time. Last night, my opinions were validated, as JBJ won his first Gold Glove award.
Anyone with working eyes and a brain can tell you that Jackie Bradley Jr. has always been a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. He makes incredible catches and gravity-defying throws on a regular basis. The only thing he didn’t have to show for it was the hardware. Now, though, the “JBJ is the best CF in baseball” argument holds significantly more weight.
In 2018, Jackie led the MLB in CF assists (9), CF ARM (7.6), and total zone runs (25). He was also 3rd in OF double plays (3) and CF putouts (299). This isn’t the only stellar season on Jackie’s resume, either. JBJ has been doing this for years with nothing to show for it. For him to finally be recognized for his superb defense is only fair.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 29, 2018
And on the rare occasion that JBJ can’t get to a ball, he’s got Mookie Betts in right field to pick him up. Betts, who has been almost as incredible as Jackie in the field, is no stranger to the hardware. Exactly one minute after Jackie Bradley Jr. won his first Gold Glove, Mookie won his third.
To no one’s surprise, Mookie was the best defensive RF in baseball in 2018. His defensive runs saved (20) was the highest by a right-fielder by a wide margin. The next highest was 9, by Mitch Haniger. He also had the highest fielding percentage for right fielders (.996). What’s even more impressive, is that Mookie posts these numbers in Fenway Park, a notoriously difficult outfield to navigate.
The short, rounded corner and the bullpen at Fenway make things very difficult for right fielders. Mookie has mastered the terrain, learning every bounce and boundary to perfection. When there’s a ball hit down the right-field line, nobody holds runners to a single better than Betts. This skill was showcased in the ALCS when Mookie hosed Tony Kemp when he was trying to stretch a single into a double. It wasn’t at Fenway, but you get the picture.
WHAT A THROW!
Mookie Betts cut down Tony Kemp with a laser from right field.pic.twitter.com/Z9ty8dmGiJ
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 18, 2018
Unfortunately, the third musketeer, Andrew Benintendi, was merely nominated for a Gold Glove award this year. He’ll be the laughingstock of the Red Sox outfield until he wins his first. It shouldn’t be long, though, because he was incredible in LF all season. The Red Sox have the best outfield in baseball, and frankly, no one even comes close to the Killer B’s.
So the next time you attend a Red Sox game, you might want to wear sunglasses. There will be a strong glare coming from center and right field, but it won’t be from the sun. It will be Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie’s new 2018 edition, Gold Gloves.
Oh, and Ian Kinsler won one too. Hell yeah.