Jay Bruce had a career year in 2012 in many ways for the Cincinnati Reds but he has not even begun to reach his ceiling. Bruce is still a very young man at 25 years old and he already has accumulated some impressive statistics. In fact, he is the only player in Major League history to slug a minimum of 20 home runs as a rookie and then subsequently better that number for four seasons in a row. With 34 home runs in 2012, Jay Bruce has established his power numbers quite nicely. What will 2013 have in store for Mr. Bruce?
Joey Votto is a calming influence and provides a buffer
2013 should be another career year for Bruce for many reasons, but having Joey Votto around is almost certain to be one of the biggest. Votto benefits Bruce for many reasons, including keeping the spotlight off of him. Bruce is young and whatever time he can spend in Votto's shadow can only benefit him. He has performed well even with Votto out of the lineup, but having that solid bat in the lineup allows Bruce to focus on improving and away from the media.
Bruce has a lineup that is maturing around him
When you are a run producing machine like Bruce, the easiest way to boost your numbers is to have men on base. The Reds have a lineup that will only improve in the years to come. Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey, Billy Hamilton and many others are only going to get better with time. When they do, Bruce will reap the benefits. With the lack of a solid leadoff hitter the past couple of seasons, it is amazing that he has managed the numbers he has. Imagine what he will do when he gets a serious on base type of guy at leadoff.
Jay Bruce is approaching the sweet spot years
Right about now is when many players like him reach the peak of their development. It seems a light bulb comes on at about this age and players that have been developed through the system start to get things they were missing before. When you improve your numbers year over year like this, it is a great sign for your future. Jay Bruce has looked better every single season since he came to the Major Leagues. It is hard to imagine just how good he could be if he only raised his average about 30 points and trimmed those strikeouts. Either way, Jay Bruce is ready to explode.
*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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