All Cincinnati Reds fans love Jay Bruce. In fact, most of us tend to view the young man with rose-colored glasses. I know I do.
When I watch the powerful left-hander walk completely out of the batter’s circle after every pitch, I know that the next pitch will be delivered into the right field seats. Of course as you know, that doesn’t happen as frequently as we would like.
Some people called him a young Mickey Mantle. Don’t laugh, but it is stretching it a bit. Mantle was as fast as a deer and played like he thought he would die at 40, which is what he really did fear.
Neither men put fear into the catcher’s heart as far as swiping bases is concerned. Mantle won one Gold Glove in 1962 and Bruce will win his first this year (2012).
What does Bruce have in common with the great Hall of Famer? Other than being born a state apart from one another, not a whole lot.
Bruce is immensely bigger than Bruce, but that can be said about most of the players today in comparison with the players from the 1960’s (look up this article I wrote two years ago).
As I said about the speed, if you were scaling them from 1-10, Mantle would have been the 10 in his prime, and Bruce would probably be about a seven.
The only place I can see the rationale of the comparison is in power. After the first four years of playing in MLB, Mantle at hit 84 HR and averaged 27 per year on a 162 game schedule. Bruce, on the other hand hit 100, while averaging 32 with that same metric.
Mantle isn’t the only prolific home-run hitter that Bruce has bettered at this stage of his career. Barry Bonds had hit only 84 in his first four years, while averaging only 25 dingers a year.
In isolated power stats (ISO) at the age of 22, Bruce had the better of both of the sluggers , but lost a little ground after that.
But his fast track to 100 home runs is what is really exciting when using history as a backdrop. Watch this!
It took Bruce 513 games to whack home run number 100. The disputed HR king of all time, Barry Bonds took 640 games to achieve this feat. Mantle did it in 577 games and the real HR King of all times, Henry Aaron did it in 544. The man he dethroned, Babe Ruth took 531 games to do it.
That, my friends is some pretty elite company, wouldn’t you agree?
Now I am not saying that Bruce is going to hit 700 HR, or even 600 for that matter. The point is, he is off to one of the best starts ever at hitting home runs.
There is plenty of work to be done. His strikeout rate is much too high. If he can cut down on those, you will see more balls flying out of the park.
He had such a terrific start when he came up in 2008. In fact he was in his 15th game before his average dropped below .400.
Bruce is a streak hitter and can really set the league on fire when he gets hot. In May of 2011 Bruce was the National League Player of the Month by putting up a line like this: .342/.402/.739/1.140 with 12 HR and 33 RBI. That is what I call a streak.
I may be approaching this from a bias slant, but I believe that he is one of the most dangerous hitters in all of baseball.
What is your take on him?