At 29 years old and in his 9th MLB season for the Cincinnati Reds, two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger award winner Jay Bruce is once again having a mighty season at the plate. After experiencing uncharacteristic struggles with the bat in 2014 and 2015, when he finished with just forty-four combined home runs, batting average figures of .217 and .226, and OPS figures of .654 and .729 in 1,073 AB, Bruce has found his slugging stride once more in Cincinnati.
With sixteen home runs, a .921 OPS, and a Major League leading six triples, one would think Bruce is marketing himself strongly to be a part of the summer classic. Voting for the All-Star Game on July 12th closes on June 30th. At the moment, Jay Bruce isn’t even one of the top-fifteen vote-getters among NL outfielders. He hasn’t even received the 378,371 votes that San Francisco Giants outfielder Angel Pagan has received. Today, we make the case for why Jay Bruce deserves to be a part of the 2016 All-Star festivities in San Diego.
Jay Bruce: His Case for the All-Star Game
First off, Bruce’s sixteen home runs currently rank eighth in the NL and rank third among outfielders, behind Yoenis Cespedes (18) and teammate Adam Duvall (20). Bruce currently ranks thirteenth among NL outfielders with an uncharacteristically high batting average of .281. Bruce currently ranks second among NL outfielders in OPS (.915), behind Cespedes (.934) and Marcell Ozuna (.948). His isolated power figure of .309 is second best in the entire NL behind only Duvall (.331). Most notably, his slugging percentage of .586 is the best figure in the NL and places third in the entire MLB, behind just Manny Machado (.605) and David Ortiz (an unreal .681). Jay Bruce has once again established himself as one of the top sluggers in all of baseball.
Competition in the Field
Meanwhile, there are several outfielders ahead of Bruce in votes who don’t deserve to be an ASG selection over him based off of their offensive play in 2016. Angel Pagan, who is fifteenth in total votes, has an OPS of just .715, with three home runs and six steals. Andrew McCutchen has ridden a wave of popularity to 673,640 votes, which places him eighth among NL outfielders, despite a disappointing season in Pittsburgh thus far, with a .243/.320/.423 slash line and twelve homers. Jorge Soler has been voted by Cubs fans into sixth place, with 859,654 votes, despite the fact that he doesn’t deserve that distinction in the least bit. While the 24-year-old Soler is a very talented prospect and has displayed plenty of promise in the Cuban League and in past flashes, his slash line of .223/.322/.377 with just five home runs shouldn’t qualify him among those vying for a spot in San Diego.
Another Chicago gate crasher, Jason Heyward, has been voted for 1,271,107 times and he places fourth among NL outfielders. Heyward has struggled mightily this year with just four home runs, seven stolen bases, and an ugly slash line of .231/.324/.325. Even Bryce Harper, who has had a great year and has earned 1,824,808 votes for second overall in outfielder voting, has been bested by Bruce by a solid margin. Bruce has more home runs and a higher batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and isolated power figure than the polarizing Harper does in 2016. Dexter Fowler is the top receiver of votes among NL outfielders, with an astounding 2,003,115 total. Fowler has certainly been a solid performer this year with seven home runs, six steals, and a .881 OPS, but Bruce has still earned an All-Star selection over Fowler from an offensive standpoint.
There must be at least one All-Star selection from the Cincinnati Reds. It won’t be anyone from the poor Reds bullpen, and it won’t be any of the young arms that are currently making progress in the starting rotation. With Bruce being among overall NL leaders in home runs, isolated power, OPS, and slugging percentage, he has earned a trip to San Diego on July 12. Forget the fact that the Reds are looking to deal Bruce to a buying contender by August 1; he has slugged his way into baseball’s elite tier of offensive producers. His defensive metrics suggest that he hasn’t had a good year in the field, despite his powerful throwing arm, but his batting figures make his defense a moot point. If his statistics don’t warrant a place on the National League All-Star team, he should at least land in the Home Run Derby.