Jay Bruce has been a constant in a sea of constants for the Cincinnati Reds offense in 2012. He has had his slumps, but he has given you exactly what you expect from him on an annual basis and then some. As it sits right now, he has posted career highs in many categories. What is more impressive is that he has done it while under pressure. With Joey Votto out and the team needing him, he delivered. Why then, is it hard to consider him for MVP in 2012? Or is he a candidate despite some drawbacks? As a Cincinnati Reds fan my knee jerk reaction to that question is that he is deserving of a look. Let's take a look at why:
Those career numbers on display
It is not often that a player absolutely explodes his career numbers but Jay Bruce has done exactly that. He has set or tied career highs with 84 Runs, 34 Doubles, 5 Triples, 33 HR, 96 RBIs (one more needed), 8 SB, .536 slugging percentage, and an .868 OPS. These are categories that are game changers and the Reds have felt the increases in the win column all season long. Bruce certainly has made the improvements necessary to be considered for an MVP award.
That nagging average
While there are plenty of good things to look at, Jay Bruce is still a poor average hitter for an MVP candidate. It could still happen, but when you hover around .250 it is tough to make a solid argument no matter how many home runs you hit these days. In a game where triple threats are fairly common, you can have your cake and eat it too. Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and others have hit the home runs, driven in runs and kept their average high while doing it. Jay Bruce is not showing himself to be that type of hitter yet. In fact, he may never be that type of hitter.
Although the Reds have made huge strides this season and Jay Bruce is as responsible for that as anyone, I think he still has some work to do to be considered an MVP caliber player. If he won it I would not be upset by any means, but he still has some improvements he can make. You can always grow more patient and develop a better eye at the plate. I think Bruce can do that and take his average up into the .280 area someday. When he does, he could win more than his share of MVP awards.
Source - All stats taken from Jay Bruce's Yahoo Sports Stat Page
*Southern is a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan that grew up watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and the boys dominate the Major Leagues. He longs for those days once again in Cincinnati.
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