Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jim Bowden: Jay Bruce will earn National League MVP honors

Former Reds general manager Jim Bowden often receives a lot of criticism from fans about his thoughts and opinions on the game. In my opinion, his willingness to constantly divulge his two cents simply makes for good baseball banter. His "seven bold predictions for 2014" piece from Saturday serves as the latest evidence.

In the piece, as the name may allude to, Bowden gives seven daring predictions for the upcoming regular season. The most notable one as far as Cincinnati is concerned is No. 6. Simply put, the ESPN analyst believes Jay Bruce is in for a monster season.

6. Jay Bruce wins NL MVP

There are so many great MVP candidates in the National League: Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, any of the Dodgers’ middle-of-the-order bat. Even Bruce’s teammate Joey Votto could win it. However, I predict that Bruce will surprise the baseball world and take home the NL MVP award and lead the Reds to another wild-card berth.

Throughout his career, Bruce has shown snapshots of MVP-caliber play, but he’s just never been able to do it over a 162-game schedule. He is in his prime, turning 27 in early April, and I think this is the year when all aspects of his game come together. Manager Bryan Price moving him to the clean-up spot directly behind Votto will mean opponents will have to pitch to him with men on base very frequently, and you can bet he will take advantage of it.

Wouldn't this be a pleasant development if it comes true?

For the record, Bruce quietly had a great individual campaign in 2013, culminating into a 10th-place finish in MVP voting. He wound up between Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez and Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel in the final tally. That's not bad company in the least bit.

For what it's worth, ESPN projects Bruce will slash .259/.331/.485 with 31 home runs and 105 RBI in 2014. While these numbers are certainly nothing to sneeze at, they won't likely be enough to garner an MVP award, meaning Bowden obviously expects Bruce to smash these projections. Let's hope so.

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