In 2008, Milton Bradley had an above-average season in Texas. He was named to the All-Star team, and as a result landed a fat, Silva-esque contract from the Chicago Cubs (go Jim Hendry!). Hendry has already labeled the contract a mistake, and subsequently shipped Bradley to the Mariners in exchange for (you guessed it) Carlos Silva.
Milton Bradley’s problems in Chicago are well-documented. The fans blame Bradley’s lack of production, the Cubs blame Bradley’s lack of effort, while Bradley blames the fans, the front office, the manager, the media, and most likely the hot dog vendors. In sum, he blames anyone within 10 miles of the ballpark.
The most recognized cause of Bradley’s failure in Chicago, despite a number of vicious accusations on either side, is that the Chicago fans, team, and media simply expected too much from Milton Bradley.
This pressure, combined with a near-certain regression to his average career statistics, doomed Bradley’s time in Chicago.
In his first game with the Cubs, Bradley batted cleanup between Derrek Lee (20 HR in 2008) and Aramis Ramirez (29 HR in 2008). Bradley underperformed, and was consequently heckled, pressured, and moved around the lineup.
The Mariners may be following that same fatal line of action. In his first week with the Mariners, Bradley was slotted in the cleanup spot, and, just like in Chicago, failed to live up to the fans’ expectations.
If there is hope for Milton Bradley in Seattle, it comes from his situational stats from 2009. Although Bradley hit an abysmal .257 in 2009, his numbers looked better (and worse) at different points in the lineup.
Batting cleanup, Bradley hit just .179 in 19 games played. Batting fifth, Bradley hit just .217 in 32 games played. Conversely, his numbers were better in lineup slots with less pressure on the hitters. Batting second, Bradley hit .326 in 24 games played, and batting sixth he hit .269 in nine games played.
It’s no wonder that Bradley failed to impress batting out of the fourth and fifth spots in the lineup. For the Mariners’ sake, let’s hope that he can turn that trend around.