The countdown to the start of the historic London Series has begun. We continue with the Bat Flips and Nerds player previews, this time with the poster-boys of athleticism, centre fielders.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
- Team: Boston Red Sox
- Height: 178cm (5’ 10”)
- Age: 29
- Bats: Left-handed
- From: Virginia, USA
- 2019 salary: $8.5 million (final year of arbitration in 2020)
In December, Jackie Bradley Jr. toured London as part of a promotional trip with Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia. The outfielder was a class act. A few politicians, or at least one in particular, could learn from Bradley Jr.’s professionalism.
“As an athlete who has been fortunate to play for the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball, the ability to promote our sport on a world stage is an exciting opportunity,” Bradley Jr. said. “I’m looking forward to our series in London in June, and to bringing our storied rivalry against the New York Yankees to a new audience.”
Taken with the 40th pick of the first round in the 2011 draft, JBJ looks like the perfect ballplayer. It is difficult to imagine that there is any sport in which he would not excel.
The All-Star is under team control for one more season, but the Red Sox will want to retain his services. The left-hander’s exceptional outfield defence is worthy of its own highlight reel. It’s possible he has already clinched the catch of the year.
It hasn’t been a great season with the bat for the 29-year-old who is hitting below .200 with a sub-.300 OBP, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that JBJ heated up in the second half of last season, posting .827 OPS after the All-Star break.
- Team: New York Yankees
- Height: 185cm (6’ 1”)
- Age: 29
- Bats: Switch-hitter
- From: California, USA
- 2019 salary: $6.2 million (signed a seven-year, $70 million deal for 2019-25)
In 2015, in yet another stealth move on the trade market, the Yankees sent catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for their scuffling, former first-rounder Aaron Hicks.
He had been such a surefire future star that he was ranked as a top-100 prospect for four straight years, yet Hicks departed the twin cities after 247 games with .225 AVG and a disappointing .655 OPS.
Since moving to the Bronx, the switch-hitter has established himself as one of the best centre fielders in the game. Last season, he slugged 27 homers, scored 90 runs and maintained his reputation for elite on-base skills with 90 walks.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone described Hicks as “maybe the most underrated player in the game” and “with the ability to hit with power and playing a premium position, he is really a complete player.”
In February, the Yankees agreed to a $70 million deal to keep Hicks in New York for the next seven years. A couple of weeks after signing, a back injury ruled him out of the start of the season, but he has now returned to the lineup after missing the first 41 games. Expect the switch-hitter to quickly recapture the form that saw him deservedly get MVP consideration.
British and European fans will be hoping that Hicks is one of three Yankees’ Aarons in London at the end of June.
Watch out for the rest of our player profiles and make sure you follow @BatFlips_Nerds on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all of the latest London Series news