Jay Bruce
Jay Bruce
31-Year-Old First Baseman1B
Seattle Mariners
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Injuries played a huge role in Bruce’s 2018 season. He missed time early in the season due to plantar fasciitis, then was held out due to back soreness before a hip strain sidelined him for two months over the summer. When all was said and done, the veteran appeared in just 94 games, a career low. He also posted his worst marks in home runs (nine), extra-base hits (28), slugging percentage (.370), RBI (37) and ISO (.147). There were a few positive things to note from his 2018 season, however. He produced his best walk rate ever, his strikeout rate went down and his 7.7% home-run-to-flyball rate was far below his career average, suggesting his power could bounce back a bit in 2019. After being traded from the Mets to the Mariners during the offseason, Bruce does not face many playing-time question marks. He figures to be the primary left fielder, giving him plenty of opportunities to rebuild his value as a relatively cheap source of power. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Mets in January of 2018. Traded to the Mariners in December of 2018.
Goes deep in Japan exhibition
1BSeattle Mariners
March 17, 2019
Bruce went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run and three RBI overall in a 6-4 exhibition win over the Yomiuri Giants on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports.
The veteran slugger evidently brought the hot bat he'd been wielding all spring stateside to Japan, and in addition to the seventh-inning round tripper, he knocked in a run with a first-inning sacrifice fly. Factoring in Saturday's production, Bruce is hitting .424 (14-for-33) with three homers and nine RBI in exhibition play. Looking ahead to the regular season, the soon-to-be 32-year-old projects to spend time at first base, the corner outfield spots and designated hitter.
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
Since 2016vs Left .690 462 45 18 58 4 .224 .277 .413
Since 2016vs Right .835 1105 142 60 179 3 .255 .331 .504
2018vs Left .660 107 8 3 12 1 .230 .280 .380
2018vs Right .688 254 23 6 25 1 .219 .323 .365
2017vs Left .718 186 23 9 24 1 .222 .285 .433
2017vs Right .883 431 59 27 77 0 .268 .341 .542
2016vs Left .678 169 14 6 22 2 .222 .266 .411
2016vs Right .872 420 60 27 77 2 .262 .326 .546
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
Since 2016Home .714 773 84 35 102 5 .222 .299 .415
Since 2016Away .867 794 103 43 135 2 .268 .331 .535
2018Home .547 176 11 3 11 1 .185 .273 .274
2018Away .809 185 20 6 26 1 .259 .346 .463
2017Home .742 315 37 15 42 0 .227 .314 .428
2017Away .923 302 45 21 59 1 .282 .334 .588
2016Home .784 282 36 17 49 4 .239 .298 .486
2016Away .844 307 38 16 50 0 .261 .319 .525
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Stat Review
How does Jay Bruce compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Bruce's 2017 season was basically a carbon copy of his 2016 campaign. There were the usual peaks and valleys, but the final numbers were highly valuable. He once again split time between two organizations, landing with the Indians in a trade after spending the previous season between Cincinnati and New York. Bruce improved his walk rate, boosting it from 7.5 percent to 9.2 percent, while maintaining a reasonable 22.5 strikeout percentage. His ISO and hard-hit marks both ranked within the top 20 among qualified hitters, and improved defense helped Bruce's real-life value heading into free agency. Bruce still struggles against lefties -- he hit .222/.285/.433 against them last season and has a .226/.291/.421 line against them for his career -- but he has a long track record of success against righties, and he's still young for a player with a decade of major-league experience. He signed a three-year deal with the Mets and figures to serve as a placeholder for Michael Conforto (shoulder) before eventually moving to first base.
After a couple of frustrating seasons, Bruce rebounded in 2016, fueled by his lowest strikeout rate since his 2009 sophomore campaign. His power stroke returned with 33 homers, the second-highest total of his career. The veteran's tenure in Cincinnati ended when the Reds shipped Bruce to the Mets at the trade deadline. As he's done throughout his career, Bruce struggled versus lefties though not as much as usual, recording a .678 OPS. Still, he's a candidate to lose playing time against southpaws. Further, Bruce frequently faces defensive shifts and his batting average suffers as a result. His .250 average was buoyed by a jump in line drives and hard-hit percent along with more homers, but be wary of a repeat as a lot must go right again, including maintaining his improved contact rate. Bruce's power looks bankable, just be ready to buffer a likely dip in average.
Bruce has never developed into the superstar that the Reds thought he might become, and now it appears that his crippling-low batting average is the new normal as more teams continue to shift aggressively against him. His power mostly returned in 2015, as he raised his ISO back over .200 by slugging 26 homers. As the Reds continue their fire sale, Bruce is a good candidate to get dealt, but he might not get hurt as badly as former teammate Todd Frazier by the change in location. He's hit 39 homers at home over the last three years, and 35 away from the cozy confines of Great American Ballpark. Bruce is due $12.5 million in 2016 with a $13 million team option for 2017.
It's convenient to blame Bruce's struggles on the knee injury that sidelined him in early May, but it might still be the primary cause for his struggles. He was first sidelined on May 4 and the expectation was that he'd be out four weeks. He returned from the DL on May 21. Did his swing change because he was compensating for the injury? It's a reasonable guess. His approach at the plate became a mess because of his struggles -- he swung far less often at pitches in the zone than he did at any point during his career. He hit fewer line drives and even fewer flyballs. A return to prominence isn't guaranteed, but a full recovery from the injury this offseason could go a long way toward helping him recoup his swing. Opposing teams employed radical shifts more than ever against him last year and it had a pronounced effect on his batting average, so don't expect him to hit better than .250, but the power should return.
It took Bruce 20 games to hit his first homer of the season, and he ended April with the sole long ball. He subsequently hit a combined 17 homers in May and June, perfectly illustrating his streakiness. There is some hope that Bruce is entering his prime years, but 2013 didn't bring any evidence - just more of the same. Mind you, 30-100 seasons aren't bad by any measure, but he hasn't improved his contact rate at a point in his career where that next step should take place. A power spike could theoretically happen, but owners shouldn't rely upon him becoming a high-average, elite power hitter.
Has Bruce hit his upper plateau, or is there another peak left for him to climb? On one hand, Bruce turns 26 at the start of the 2013 season, and hitters often peak in their age 27-29 seasons. His isolated power is trending upward, hitting a career-high .263 last season. On the other hand, his contact rate hasn't improved over the last three years, in fact taking a slight turn for the worse in 2012. Our guess is that his batting average won't show much luck-independent improvement, but there could be a few 40-homer seasons in his future if he remains in Cincinnati.
Bruce's career trajectory is on the rise. He saw career highs in every major counting category to go along with a career-high walk rate and isolated slugging percentage. He improved his performance against left-handers, at least in terms of hitting for power. He has one of the better right-field arms in the game, for those of you in simulation games like Strat-O-Matic or Scoresheet. His low contact rate (73 percent in each of the last two seasons) will prevent him from being an elite hitter for average, but stardom is on his doorstep otherwise. At age 25 in 2012, there's still room for improvement.
Bruce started slowly for the Reds in 2010, hitting into a decent share of bad luck in April, mixed in with a low contact rate. The luck turned around midseason and Bruce finished the year on fire, ending up with a career-high .846 OPS. He's capable of hitting 30-35 homers at his peak, which might occur in the next couple of seasons. He has a big home/road split, but any concern over that has been washed away by his six-year, $51 million contract extension signed in the offseason. The only factor keeping him from being among the elite fantasy outfielders is a lack of stolen bases - he seems unlikely to top double-digits in any given season.
While there are signs that Bruce is *this* close to breaking out (.222 BABIP, improved walk rate and contact rate), his troubles against lefties are a significant problem. Only two of his 22 homers were against southpaws, and he was starting to get benched against select lefties before his wrist injury in July. Keep in mind that he turns just 23 in April, so there's plenty of time for him to improve, but hope that the Reds (and Dusty Baker) share your patience.
Bruce's big major league splash and preseason hype makes his .254/.314/.453 season seem like a disappointment, but keep in mind he did this as a 21-year-old, with only 115 games above A-ball under his belt. Bruce needs to improve his pitch selection (33 walks, 110 strikeouts in 413 at-bats) and lefties throttled him (.190/.263/.299 in 137 at-bats). But improvement in both areas is possible and likely - get him now in dynasty leagues, while the price is still low.
The Reds are in a tricky spot with Bruce, seeing him advance far quicker than they expected. While he still strikes out too frequently, he's very close to being ready for the majors. Yet the team has a surplus of outfielders and new manager Dusty "I haven't seen him play yet" Baker is someone who seems less inclined to pencil him in the lineup right away. The Reds' trade of Josh Hamilton might open up the door for Bruce to start in Cincinnati right away, although at press time there was still some talk that the team was interested in signing Mike Cameron. He's adjusted rapidly to the level of competition with each promotion, so he's likely to succeed right away once he gets that shot.
Bruce had another solid campaign, tearing apart the low-A Midwest League at age 19. Obviously it will get tougher as he climbs the ladder, but so far he's fulfilling the potential the Reds saw when they made him their first-round pick in the 2005 draft. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts some (after all, he's a Red -- who in their organization doesn't need to cut down on his strikeouts?) but if he's not already owned in your Ultra League, you should put him near the top of your prospect lists.
Bruce was drafted out of high school in Texas with the number 12 overall pick in the 2005 draft. His power potential is significant, but he needs quite a bit of refining, particularly in managing the strike zone.
More Fantasy News
Excelling in spring
1BSeattle Mariners
March 6, 2019
Bruce, who went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk in a 7-7 Cactus League tie with the Padres on Wednesday, is now hitting .412 with three RBI and a stolen base over 17 spring at-bats.
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Sent to Seattle
1BSeattle Mariners
December 3, 2018
Bruce will head from the Mets to the Mariners along with Anthony Swarzak, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista in exchange for Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano and cash considerations once all physicals have been completed Monday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.
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Day off vs. Atlanta
1BNew York Mets
September 26, 2018
Bruce is out of the lineup against the Braves on Wednesday, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports.
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Smacks ninth homer
1BNew York Mets
September 20, 2018
Bruce went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and two walks Thursday against the Nationals.
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Not in Monday's lineup
1BNew York Mets
September 17, 2018
Bruce is not in the lineup Monday against the Phillies.
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