After completing his third season for the Cincinnati Reds, it is hard to fathom just how young Jay Bruce is. Jay Bruce didn't play college ball. He was drafted out of high school just five years ago (in the first round). He was only twenty years old when he came in fifth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2008. And now Bruce is only 23 years old. And yet, after Votto and Rolen, Bruce may be the third most important position player for the Reds.
Jay Bruce sealed the division title for the Reds on Tuesday night with a walk off homer. It was his second walk off homer of the season and the tenth time this season he has had a go ahead hit. Scott Rolen has 15 of those and Joey Votto has 33, which is an amazing stat and just one more reason why he is the MVP. But the point is that Bruce is starting to show the kind of player he can still be.
There were a lot of doubters last year for Jay Bruce. He was so bad for a while that the Reds sent him down to the minors for a brief refresher course. But he has rebounded nicely this year and with the exception of his strikeout total (which is too high), Bruce has posted the highest Batting Average, On Base Percentage, doubles, total bases and OPS of his short career. His 118 OPS+ is third on the team behind Votto and Rolen.
Bruce has also become an excellent right fielder and Baseball-reference.com gives him a dWAR of 1.4 for the season. Bruce has 18 assists in the outfield in the last two seasons. He has above average range too.
Bruce has looked much more comfortable this year and is going to the playoffs for the first time. As his .818 OPS indicates, he is on his way to being a very good player in the majors and at the age of 23, we haven't seen but the tip of the iceberg on what Bruce is going to accomplish in his major league career.