Thursday, May 22, 2003

Milton Bradley's Consecutive Games on Base Streak Reaches 31

Milton Bradley is best known for throwing off the shackles of a ridiculous name only to become something of a Bad Boy of baseball, sort of like an Albert Belle for a new millenium, minus the Hall of fame bat. Albert, at least, could always fall back on talent, so people would excuse some of the things he did. But Milton? You can't find anyone to say a kind word about him anywhere. There was not a preseason mag or site that considered him a potential star on the rise, even though he is younger than Marlon Byrd, who everyone was plugging for great things in centerfield with the Phillies.

When Eric Wedge pulled him from the lineup and benched him last week for not running out a flyball, the press nodded knowingly. Nobody commented on the fact that Wedge, part of the "terrible or non-playing young white people" group that is making a power run in baseball, ran the amazing streak of making Bradley his # 3 hitter, then his # 4 hitter, then benched and publicly ridiculed him, all in the same week.

Meanwhile, Mr. Boardgame Company ( I'm surprised that none of his critics have referred to him as Mr. Bored Game Company) has had a hell of a start to the season. Here are his major stats up to now:

batting .339 (tied for 4th)
OBP of .438 (also 4th)
Slugging .522 (20th)
OPS .960 (11th)

Compared to other American League centerfielders, Bradley is dominating. He leads them all in OBP and OPS, trails only Rocco Baldelli in batting, and only Vernon Wells in slugging. Think about the difference in press this year between Baldelli, Wells, and Bradley. And if those stats aren't enough, there's the streak.

31 consecutive games is not record breaking, although there doesn't appear to be a record for this. According to Clevand Indians Report (www.cir.blogspot.com), former Indian Jim Thome led the majors last year with a 55 game streak. Elias Sports Bureau has Joe Dimaggio's 56 game hitting streak as also being a 74 game on base streak. Dave Anderson of the New York Times wrote a whole column about this in May of 99 when Derek Jeter reached 45 games from the start of the season.

But Milton's streak does lead the majors this year, and I'm hoping it continues, just to see how long it takes for the press to buckle, and give the assumed-devil his due. We'll set the over-under at Jeter's 45 for the first major recognition of Bradley's accomplishment. Go Milton!

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