David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
2012 Stats (155 games): .252 AVG, 34 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB, 27.7 K%
2013 Stats (29 games): .261 AVG, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB, 34.5 K%
If least valuable player awards were handed out for fantasy baseball, Jay Bruce would be at the top of the list for the month of April.
In his last 13 games, Bruce is 12-for-53 with 22 strikeouts and a grand total of three RBI. Shin-Soo Choo has an on-base percentage (OBP) of .462. Joey Votto's OBP is at .441, and Brandon Phillips is sitting at .336. There's literally no excuse for having zero RBI in 12 of your last 13 games when you're batting fifth for the Cincinnati Reds.
Well, perhaps there's one excuse, but it's not a very good one—Bruce is looking for fastballs on seemingly every pitch.
In 2012, Bruce was thrown 1400 fastballs. He swung and missed at 9.4 percent of them and put 18.2 percent of them in play. Against 279 fastballs thus far in 2013, he's had very similar success, whiffing at 10.0 percent while putting 19.0 percent in play.
Breaking balls, however, are a completely different story.
Last year, Bruce saw 1006 breaking balls (sliders, curveballs and changeups). He whiffed on 15.1 percent of his swings against them and put 16.0 percent of them in play. Even though those numbers are considerably worse than his numbers against fastballs, the Reds would kill for those numbers compared to what they're getting thus far in 2013.
Against 175 breaking balls this year, Jay Bruce has swung and missed 24.0 percent of the time while only putting 13.1 percent of those pitches in play.
Long story short, his strikeout percentage has increased considerably, and his inability to identify a breaking ball out of the pitcher's hand is the primary culprit.
If I've figured that out, opposing pitchers certainly have as well. If he doesn't fix it soon, we'll continue seeing too many bagels in the RBI category going forward.
Even worse, his BABIP through one month of the season is 100 points higher than his career average, so he's actually been lucky to be doing as well as he has been. It may get even darker before the dawn.