It seems that people know Jay Bruce is a streaky hitter that lives in a world of peaks and valleys. His reputation is a good, young power hitter and solid corner outfielder who has played at an All-Star level. By now; when Bruce gets hot, people all over baseball take notice and know that it’s going to be a volcanic eruption.
I have followed this player’s career closely and wanted to do a little extra work, breaking down the best hot streaks of his career.
The Beginning (May 27, 2008 to June 13, 2008)
Jay Bruce burst on the scene for Cincinnati in 2008 with the expectations that came along with being named Baseball America’s Top Minor League Prospect in 2007. Bruce did not disappoint.
Everyone remembers his MLB Debut where he reached base five times, including two walks. Five games into his career the power came. He hit a walk-off home run to win a ballgame, and three more would follow during the hot streak.
Hot streak tally: 18 games, .382/.468/.632, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 10 BB, 12 K
Return from Broken Wrist (September 22, 2009 to October, 4th 2009)
This one seems to go unnoticed because Bruce was mired in a .223 season in 2009. Bruce broke his wrist making a catch at Citi Field in July and missed two months. It was largely expected that his power would be sapped upon his return. This mini-eruption started quietly five games after Bruce came off the disabled list.
The highlight of the streak came when Bruce hit two home runs and drove in a career high five runs against the Cardinals in Cincinnati on September 29th. This streak goes largely by the wayside for Bruce historians but it raised his average from .210 to .223 for the season in 2009, and it would be a sign of things to come. It also allowed him to hit one more homer than the year prior’s total.
Hot streak tally: 12 games, .375/.487/.844, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 7 BB, 4 K
He’s Alive! (April 18, 2010 to to May 1, 2010)
Anyone who remembers this time in Bruce’s career remembers the relative power outage and slow start to begin his 2010 campaign; a season that would end up pound for pound, Bruce’s best season in the big leagues (5 WAR player at age 23). Bruce couldn’t seem to catch a break to begin this season. He had one hit in the team’s first six games, and hit a home run in Miami that was called foul after replay but was actually a fair ball.
Then on a Sunday in Pittsburgh, Mount Bruce erupted. The Reds lost the game 5-3, but Bruce homered twice into the right field stands. He added several multiple hit games against the Padres, Astros, and Cardinals. His average went from .178 to .265 by the time it ended. This streak got his 2010 season on track.
Hot streak tally: 12 games, .381/.458/.857, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 8 K
Major Power Surge #1 (August 27, 2010 to September 13, 2010)
The dates of this streak are a bit misleading, but it still counts. The streak included only five games – the night it began Bruce had the best power night of his career in hitting three home runs into the right field moondeck against the Chicago Cubs. That was a Friday night. Bruce homered again against the Cubs on Sunday, then again off Randy Wolf of the Brewers on a Monday night and added a walk-off hit. It’s widely rumored that in the celebration that night of the walk-off hit, Bruce’s teammates injured his oblique muscle. Bruce would miss the next several weeks with the injury, and would return on September 13th at home against the Arizona DiamondBacks. Many wondered how Bruce would be able to swing the bat upon his return from such a tough injury that affects a player’s swing. Bruce responded two home run, four RBI ballgame.
Hot streak tally: 5 games, .579/.636/1.684, 7 HR, 12 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K
Tune-up for the Playoffs (September 17th, 2010 to October 3rd, 2010)
A longer streak and not as great in intensity, the streak seemed to wax rather than wane as the season ended. Bruce had three home runs in the Reds final two regular season games at Great American Ball Park before the Reds entered the NLDS series against the Philadelphia Phillies. It took his home run total to a new career high of 25 (his total was at 20 when the streak began) and took his batting average from .276 to a career high .281 as the season ended. There were no longer any questions about the oblique injury affecting Bruce’s power.
Hot streak tally: 14 games, .359/.457/.744, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 7 BB, 13 K
The Great Streak/NL Player of the Month (May 15, 2011 to June 8th, 2011)
Widely regarded as the greatest run of games in Jay Bruce’s career. This streak was the longest ‘hot streak’ in his career and of the greatest intensity. This streak carried him to the National League Player of the Month honors for the month of May and continued into the first portion of July. Bruce homered off Joel Hanrahan when he was at the top of his game, and lefties such as Cole Hamels, Antonio Bastardo, Cliff Lee, and Chris Narveson during the streak. The Reds coincidentally went 10-13 during this amazing eruption of offense. Bruce was hitting .299 when this streak ended.
Hot streak tally: 23 games, .394/.447/.766, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 9 BB, 19 K
The Heat of August (August 8th, 2011 to August 14th, 2011)
Very quiet and tough to remember because it came as a disappointing season was winding down for the 2011 Reds. Bruce feasted on mediocre right-handed pitching at Great American to achieve this streak (Jason Hammel, Kevin Millwood, Josh Spence, Tim Stauffer were the pitchers he homered off of).
Hot streak tally: 7 games, .440/.481/.1.120, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K
The Streak of an All-Star (April 19th, 2012 to May 8, 2012)
This streak propelled Bruce to his second straight All-Star selection. It included eight multiple hit games and took Bruce’s average from .216 to .306 for the year. Bruce also threatened to tie the club record shared by the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn when he homered in four straight ballgames, but fell short of homering in a fifth straight.
In my opinion, the second best power stretch of Bruce’s career, and second best overall streak.
Hot streak tally: 16 games, .393/.439/.852, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 5 BB, 11 K
Wholesomeness of 2012 (August 12th, 2012 to August 25th, 2012)
Bruce continued to follow suit as a tremendous hitter in the months of August and September. He had been relatively cool post All-Star break 2012, and then he woke up. He homered off the likes of Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey, former teammate Travis Wood and Jaime Garcia. This was the initial 14 games of the longest hitting streak of his career (15 games total). Bruce looked like a sure fire 100-RBI man at this point, but fell just one short of tallying his first career RBI milestone season as 2012 ended. The highly successful 2012 Reds went 9-5 during this Bruce streak. This streak was especially unusual because Bruce struck out 18 times while walking only twice during it’s duration.
Hot streak tally: 14 games, .375/.407/.839, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 2 BB, 18 K
Unleashing the Monster (May 8th, 2013 to Present)
This may be the grandaddy of them all, and that’s because it’s still evolving. I’ve heard the comment this year that ‘Jay Bruce has basically been hot for two months since a slow April’, and it’s true. When a player stays in a groove this long, at some point it’s not just a hot streak but a guy becoming a more complete hitter. If you watch Bruce night by night he seems to be using the entire field and he’s hitting 450 foot shots in close and late situations like it’s nothing.
This hot streak contains several mini-hot streaks within it. Bruce has hit 8 home runs in his last 9 ballgames. Several of those were to tie or give the Reds the lead in the 8th or 9th frame. He’s homering off of locked in closers like Jason Grilli and guys on their way out like Heath Bell. He’s mastering guys who have given him fits like Wandy Rodriguez and Burke Badenhop. Tough lefty starters like Cliff Lee and Patrick Corbin have all become casualties of this Bruce hot magma eruption.
Jay Bruce looks the part of a great young hitter right now, and he’s one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball at the plate. He’s the guy you hold your bladder for when he’s due up and you’re at the park. It seems like I’m stating the obvious, but if he can stay in this groove, the sky is the limit in regards to his 2013 numbers.
Hot streak tally: 41 games, .307/.350/.693, 17 HR, 38 RBI, 12 BB, 40 K