Jay Bruce: Super Prodigy to Average Rookie

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJuly 13, 2008

Okay, just for a second, let's forget all those awards and expectations that were saddled onto Jay Bruce's ego before he had even made his major-league debut. 

Let's analyze his start in the big leagues from a practical yet realistic, and perhaps somewhat pessimistic angle.

In his first six games, Bruce hit .591 (13-22) with two HR and six RBI.

Since then, he's batted .267 with six HR and 21 RBI in 43 games. 

Why the change?

It's likely that the pitching he faced improved.  I mean, his batting average didn't tank by 300+ points in a matter of a month for no good reason.

That improvement in pitching quality led to a higher strikeout rate.  Bruce struck out once in his first 22 at-bats in his first six games, but since then, he's fanned in 45-of-139 plate appearances.  That's a strikeout rate of 32%. 

Just for comparison, fellow Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn, who is notorious for his numerous strikeouts (and homers), has a strikeout rate of  34% on the year.

Bruce's 32% rate is alarmingly close to Dunn's 34% rate, isn't it?  Could that be indication that Bruce will be an all-or-nothing player like Dunn, or just a sign of inexperience (he is just a rookie who got called up in late May, after all)?

Jay Bruce has gone from the newest baseball prodigy to the average first-year player.  But for now, I'll chalk his varied success up to inexperience.  Only with time will Bruce distinguish himself as one or the other.