A story from CSNNE reports that the Red Sox have not chosen a center fielder. The two players that the Red Sox are considering will be either Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr.
The argument is the age-old debate of “Offense vs Defense.” While JBJ is a stud defensively, he sorely lacks at the plate. JBJ only batted a mere .212 over the last three seasons for the Sox and hasn’t broken .250 in his MLB career. Bradley this year is projected according to Baseball-Reference.com to hit .230 with with 42 RBIs on 76 hits. For some comparison. Mookie Betts, according to Baseball-Reference.com again, is projected to have a .292 batting average with 63 RBIs on 145 hits and he is 3 years younger than Jackie Bradley Jr. Betts also has over double the amount of WAR over Bradley. Betts has a WAR rating of 6.8, while JBJ has a WAR rating of 2.7.
However, in the field it would appear that Jackie Bradley holds a distinct advantage. JBJ has a fielding percentage of .994. Mookie Betts has a fielding percentage of 983 and has only posted in the .990s once in his short career, while JBJ’s lowest fielding percentage has never been below .981. By multiple accounts, JBJ also has the stronger arm between the two players. In 2014 Jackie Bradley Jr. also led the majors in double plays by an outfielder and assists from the outfield position. In that same year, JBJ also had the 3rd-highest fielding percentage. 2014 for Mookie saw him in the top-five in both assists and errors for center fielders.
So what will it be for the Red Sox? If I had things my way, I would start potential MVP candidate Mookie Betts for two reasons: 1.) His bat blows Jackie Bradley Jr’s out of the water, and 2.) The defense of Betts isn’t far behind that of Bradley’s. Betts is also the younger of the two players; it would give Betts much needed experience playing center field in a big ball park like Fenway. If the Red Sox were still hell bent on starting Jackie Bradley Jr., then they should put him in right field because of his arm.
However, things are not up to me and the rest of Red Sox Nation, but this will be a key match-up to watch going into Spring Training.