Milton Bradley's career as a Cub has not gone as expected. Actually, a groin injury and a suspension were to be expected, but a .116/.296/.256 start was not. In the 2009 off-season, Bradley was one of the most sought after free agents on the market. After all, he was coming off a career year in which he hit .321/.436/.563 and posted the second of back to back .400 wOBA seasons. A three year, $30 million dollar deal seemed like a bargain. However, the injuries and the temper made some buyers weary. Most felt that a DH role would be best for the oft-injured Bradley, but that didn't stop the Cubs from giving him that $30 million dollar deal.
To this point it's been anything but a good deal. As mentioned above, Bradley has already missed a nice chunk of games for the Cubs. Due to injuries and a suspension, he has only 54 plate appearances and just 12 starts in right field. While getting him on the field has been a problem, getting him on the field and producing has been a bigger issue. Bradley is hitting just .116 with an OPS of .552. He has struck out in 30% of his plate appearances and has just one multi-hit game this season. Even though things are looking bad, they should get better.
If anybody was expecting Bradley to duplicate his 2008 success, their expectations were just unrealistic. First, Bradley was playing in Texas, a notorious hitter's park. And second, his BABIP was .396 for the season which his over .70 points his career norm. This brings me to my "they should get better" statement. While Bradley over performed in the BABIP category in 2008, he is well under that .323 career BABIP in 2009; as in .217 points lower. Injuries or not, Milton Bradley will not have a .106 BABIP much longer. He also will not have a line drive percentage of 6.7% for the season, when he's averaged 21.0% over the course of his career.
Right now, middle infielders are gobbling up grounders off of Bradley's bat like hungry hungry hippos (sorry). When you aren't a speedster like Carl Crawford (obligatory Rays mention) a ground ball percentage of 66% is going hurt your BABIP. Once some of those grounders catch some air and become liners, everything will fall in line. As far as plate discipline, Bradley will always strike out, but his walk percentage is a stellar 17.3% and his O-Swing of 15.1% is his lowest since 2002.
Like normal, nothing has come easy with Bradley's first month in the windy city. However, the one thing that has come easily to Bradley over his career, hitting, should be coming around soon.