Yankees first baseman Jay Bruce has announced he’s retiring from baseball (via Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic). Today’s game against the Rays will be the final outing of Bruce’s 14-year MLB career.
“After 14 incredible seasons, I’ve decided to make the very difficult decision to retire from baseball. All I ever wanted to be ’when I grew up’ was a baseball player, and to say that I got to live out my dream would be the understatement of a lifetime. This sport gave me more than I could’ve ever asked for,” Bruce wrote as part of his announcement (the full statement is available at the above link).
A first-round pick of the Reds in 2005, Bruce would quickly become one of the sport’s most promising young talents. He was a top 100 prospect in each of his first three years in pro ball, eventually becoming Baseball America’s #1 farmhand entering the 2008 season. Bruce made his major league debut in May of that year and hit a decent .254/.314/.453, earning a fifth-place finish in National League Rookie of the Year balloting.
Two years later, Bruce settled in as the middle-of-the-order bat many evaluators expected he’d become. Between 2010-13, the left-handed slugger hit a very productive .262/.337/.489 (119 wRC+), earning back-to-back All-Star selections in 2011-12 and a pair of Silver Slugger awards and down-ballot MVP support in 2012-13. Bruce fell off a bit in 2014-15, but he rebounded offensively in 2016 and earned his third and final All-Star selection.
The bulk of Bruce’s career was spent with the Reds, but he continued to produce for a few years after leaving Cincinnati. He hit a career-high 36 home runs during a 2017 season split between the Mets and Indians and popped 26 homers as recently as 2019. He was an above-average hitter during his time with the Mets, as well as in his brief stints in Cleveland and Seattle.
Unfortunately, Bruce’s production has fallen off as he’s entered his 30’s, with increasing struggles to reach base at a passable clip. He didn’t perform well with the Phillies last year and had to settle for a minor-league deal with the Yankees over the offseason. A Spring Training injury to Luke Voit opened up an opportunity for Bruce to begin the year as New York’s first baseman, but he’s stumbled to a .118/.231/.235 line in 39 plate appearances as a Yankee.
Struggles in his final couple seasons notwithstanding, Bruce had a very strong career. Not including any stats he may accrue in this afternoon’s game, the Texas native concludes with a .244/.314/.467 slash line across 6642 MLB plate appearances, making him six percentage points better than the league average hitter by measure of weighted runs created plus.
Bruce had five separate seasons in which he was at least fifteen points above average at the plate. The well-respected veteran had 1455 hits, including 319 home runs, scored 839 times and drove in 951 runs. Altogether, Bruce was worth around 20 wins above replacement and accrued just shy of $103MM in career earnings, per Baseball Reference. MLBTR congratulates Bruce on a fine career and wishes him the best of luck in his future endeavors.