A lot of who you are seeps into your view of the Cincinnati Reds. Canadian? You think of Joey Votto. Lover of great dancing and comedy? Dusty Baker, of course! Brooding fringe Hall of Famers? Scott Rolen is your man! Easily distracted middle infielders? Brandon Phillips is here to help.
Despite flying under the radar, Jay Bruce might just be the best Reds all-around player.
Jay Bruce burst onto the national baseball consciousness in the most conspicuous way possible. He picked up three hits in his big league debut and reached in his first six plate appearances. The first home run of his career was an 11th inning walkoff jobbie just for good measure. Quite an act to follow, even for one of the game’s best prospects.
After that hot start, Bruce mounted a strong rookie campaign in 2008 and even better sophomore season. Bruce continued improving and put together an outstanding year in 2010 – his walk rate improved as did his power. Factor in his incredible defense and you have yourself a 5 WAR season and a Central division crown, punctuated by Bruce’s division-clinching walkoff home run.
Not content with mere All-Star caliber production, Jay Bruce kicked it into high gear for 2011. Bruce owns the second highest wOBA on his team (top 10 in the National League) behind the prodigious Votto while leading the National League in home runs.
With Bruce putting up gaudy power numbers alongside the reigning MVP in a lineup with Brandon Phillips and the sneaky good Drew Stubbs, the Reds have more than enough offense to defend their NL Central title. That Bruce plays elite defense is gravy when his slash line is a garish .285/.351/.550/.901.
The total package makes Bruce one of the best young players in baseball, in turn accomplishing the rare feat of making Reds GM Walt Jocketty look like a genius for buying out Bruce’s arbitration years at friendly price. Good business for the Reds, good business for fans of five tool studs the world over.