The Diamondbacks’ Archie Bradley has made significant adjustments at the big league level, but is this Archie Bradley the final Archie Bradley?
Diamondbacks‘ reliever Archie Bradley had to adjust his game when he moved to the bullpen, but he’s not the first to face some positional upheaval. Some of the best stories in baseball are about players who reinvent themselves. Take Craig Biggio. Enters the league as a catcher, establishes himself in the league as a catcher, accumulates 8.8 fWAR in his first three seasons as a catcher. Then he becomes a second baseman.
But Biggio was fast too. To make sure he stayed fast, Biggio reinvented himself. Craig Biggio 2.0 saved his legs by moving to the keystone.
From 1992 to 2002, Biggio put together the bulk of his Hall of Fame career: .297/.387/.450 with 1,841 hits, 1,191 runs, and 171 home runs – good for 122 OPS+. (He was also hit by 203 pitches during that span. That’s not foremost on his hall-of-fame ledger, but it’s impressive all the same.) Not for nothing, but he stole 310 bases in that span as well.
Craig Biggio 3.0 moved to the outfield for 2003 and 2004. Even as he moved literally and figuratively further away from the player he was when he entered the league, Biggio 3.0 was no less impressive than either of the previous two versions.
That’s not to say he was as productive as peak Biggio. In his age-37 season, Biggio accumulated 2.0 fWAR while starting 150 games in centerfield. In his age-38 season, he started 66 times in center and 83 times in left, providing the Astros with only 1.3 fWAR. Still, he found a way to stay in the game and remain an asset for the Astros.
The best players don’t power their way through the league on natural talent. They adapt. Over and over again, they adapt.
Biggio’s story is well-known because it’s not often a player has the athleticism to move from catcher to second base to centerfield. But every player who succeeds at the major league level makes adjustments. Biggio’s adjustments were a little more obvious to the naked eye.
As Ketel Marte gets set to follow in Biggio’s footsteps in moving from second to center, let’s take a look at a different Diamondbacks whose adjustments are a little subtler: Archie Bradley. Though he’s still early in his career, already he has had to transform his game in a multitude of ways. We explored last week how his arsenal has changed (or un-changed? de-changed?) from the date he was drafted to the present.
His story is the more common version of Biggio’s: how players all throughout professional baseball are tweaking their games in whatever way possible to keep them in the game. This is Archie Bradley‘s journey.