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Chicago Cubs' Milton Bradley: Is It As Bad As It Looks?

CHICAGO - MAY 27: Milton Bradlery #21 of the Chicago Cubs warms-up before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 27, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Pirates 5-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2009

I have been paying a lot of attention to Milton Bradley in the box scores lately. 

His average has creeped up to .245, not a great number by any means, but better than the .208 he was at on June 9. 

Since then, he has hit safely in 17 of 23 games.  Starting June 10 and through June 21, he had a 10-game hitting streak.  His average jumped to .248.  He then went four games without a single hit. 

The thing is, in those four games, he only had eight official at-bats in 13 plate appearances.  His averaged dipped back down, but he still managed to raise his OBP four points.

Since June 23, he has had multiple walks in five of 12 games and has hit in all but two.  He has safely hit in 33 of his last 47 games.  Nine of the 14 games he didn't attribute a hit, he had two or less at-bats.  Also, out of those 14 games, he had six games with at least a walk and four saw him walk multiple times.

While his average didn't jump the way Derrek Lee's did when they both turned the corner at relatively the same time (Lee was hitting .198 on May 16 and Bradley was at .194), he has been successful.

Yes, in this same time frame, he was disciplined by Lou.  He also made an embarrassing (though it didn't hurt the team) blunder when he posed after a catch then threw the ball into the stands, after the second out.

Despite all of that, he has been important to this lineup.  He now stands in with a .245 BA and a respectable .370 on-base percentage.  He has started 54 of the Cubs 79 games and played in 65.  Right now it is looking like he will start about 115-120 games and play in around 140, which is more than anyone expected.

So, while many think he has been a bust, and really rightfully so, there are some underlying statistics that show that since mid may he has been fairly productive.  Lee has driven in a lot of runs in front of him, so the RBI total is also not a good indicator, especially in a lineup that hasn't hit.

I am predicting now that Bradley's average and on-base percentage both increase as Ramirez settles into the lineup.  To go along with that, if Soriano breaks out of his funk and is successful in the second half (staying in the sixth hole I hope), then Bradley will have some monster protection behind him too.

While it has taken some time, I think this move just may workout for the offense.

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