Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I wonder how many frantic voice mails David Wright has left for Jay Bruce in the last week.
"Hey Jay, it's David. I'm the captain for the NL team in the Home Run Derby this year and I think you'd be great for it. Call me back if you're interested."
"Jay, it's Dave again. I saw that homer you hit off Grilli the other day. That was awesome. Derby's only a few weeks away, man. Just think about it."
"Hey Jay. Still haven't heard back from you yet. Are you gonna' do the Derby or what? Everybody's talking about that homer you hit against Miley. We really need you, man. Call me back when you get a chance."
I'm not sure why Bruce isn't answering Wright's phone calls in this pretend scenario but here are a few possible explanations.
A. "Sorry, D-Wright. I only get like one bar at the stadium. Verizon's the worst."
B. "Sorry, dude. Last weekend was crazy. Flag Day's a really big deal in Cincy."
C. "Wait, that was really you? I thought Frazier was prank calling me from someone else's phone."
D. "Finally all caught up on Game of Thrones. So ... what was your question?"
E. "Can't talk now, Dave. I'm writing my memoirs. I know I should know this but is Cincinnati spelled with two N's or two T's?"
After a relatively uneventful start to the season, Bruce has gone ballistic in June.
Exhibit A: Saturday's game against Arizona.
In the second inning, Bruce unleashed on Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, sending a mountainous blast into the center field bleachers. The ball landed 472 feet away from home plate, the third-longest home run in the majors this season.
Just to clarify, Corbin isn't your run of the mill starting pitcher. This guy is fourth in the National League in ERA (2.19) and he hasn't lost a game since September. And he never gives up home runs to lefties (only two homers allowed in 166 at bats).
Seven innings later, Bruce came to the dish with the Reds trailing 2-1 in the ninth. That's when he smashed a cannon shot to right center. This one traveled a distance of 442 feet and it put the Reds on top, 3-2.
And that was only one game. Bruce has been handing out souvenirs all month. Seriously, he's like a home run hitting Santa Clause (without the beard, of course).
Since the beginning of June, Bruce has hit .311 with 10 jacks and 19 RBI. The 10 taters are the most in the majors over that span while his .711 slugging percentage in June is fifth-best in the bigs.
On the strength of his recent 10-game homer-palooza (eight homers over that stretch), Bruce has climbed into the top five in National League home runs (18) and RBI (54). His .282 average, a 30-point improvement from last year, is the highest of his six-year career.
Lefthanders usually post much lower batting averages against lefties than they do against righties. With Bruce, that lefty/righty discrepancy doesn't exist. His .282 average against lefties, get this, is EXACTLY the same as his average against righthanders.
Plus, he's never hurt (knock on wood, fantasy owners)! Bruce has only sat out one game all season and dating back to 2011, he's been on the field for 388 of a possible 401 games (96.8 percent).
As Gus Johnson would say, "Get this man a new contract!"
Well actually, that's already been taken care of. Bruce inked a six-year, $51 million extension in 2010 that will keep him in Cincinnati until 2017. When you consider that Josh Hamilton (.207 AVG), Matt Kemp (DL since the end of May) and Alfonso Soriano (37 years old) are all making more than $17 million a year, that's actually a pretty nice bargain.
Yeah, there's the strikeout issue (91 punchouts in 76 games) but you can't deny this kid's talent. The 26-year-old Bruce is on pace for 38 visits to Souvenir City this season.
Hear me out. Let's play it conservative and say Bruce has five more seasons of 30-plus homers left in his 6-foot-3, 215-pound body. That would give Bruce 300 homers before his 31st birthday.
And what if he keeps it up? We could be looking at 400 or 500 homers by the time he hangs up his cleats (he's already at 152 in six seasons).
"Hey D-Wright. It's Jay. Sorry, I left my phone charger at Wrigley. They couldn't find it in the ivy so I just got a new one at the Apple Store. What's going on?"
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