You can argue Cleveland has been a top-10 team over the last month. In fact, Cleveland’s record in its past 30 games (16-14) is tied with the Houston Astros for 10th-best. That run has propelled Cleveland into a different, more meaningful tie: one with the Boston Red Sox for the second wild card spot. The Minnesota Twins, up by nine in the American League Central, may be too far out to track down, but there’s still much to play for so far as Cleveland is concerned.
On Sunday, Cleveland made a move to bolster one of the worst lineups in baseball, promoting first baseman and minor-league home-run leader Bobby Bradley from Triple-A. Bradley, 23, triggered his promotion by hitting .292/.359/.638 with 24 home runs.
Though Bradley’s minor-league numbers don’t suggest it, there are legitimate concerns about his long-term viability in the majors. Those worries begin with his positional value — he’s limited to first base — and extend to his strikeout tendencies at the dish.
Obviously strikeouts are more accepted in this era, but Bradley might test Cleveland’s threshold. Even this year, he struck out in nearly a third of his Triple-A plate appearances. Only three qualified hitters in the majors have done that this season: Wil Myers, Brandon Lowe, and Michael Chavis — and Lowe and Chavis, for their parts, are infielders.
Bradley does have his merits. He has plus-plus raw power and a fine eye at the plate. Those attributes give him a chance to serve as at least a walk-and-bop platoon first baseman. The downside is he could be deemed little more than a Quad-A slugger if he struggles for a prolonged period to begin his big-league career.
If there is good news for Bradley, it’s that the bar in Cleveland is low. Jake Bauers, who has received most of the starts at DH, has yet to get his seasonal OPS+ above 80. Even if Bradley is a below-average hitter, he might represent an upgrade.