Jay Allen Bruce
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 225 lb.
- High School West Brook High School
- Debut May 27, 2008
Outfielder Jay Bruce was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft and signed by scout Brian Wilson. He made his pro debut that summer with the GCL Reds, where he hit .270 with 5 home runs in 37 games before being promoted to the Billings Mustangs, where he hit .257 with 4 homers in 17 games. He spent the entire 2006 season with the Dayton Dragons, hitting .291 with 16 home runs and 81 RBIs.
2007 was a remarkable year for Jay Bruce. After beginning the year at class A (Sarasota) (where he hit .325 and slugged .586), Jay was promoted to class AA (Chattanooga) where he proceeded to bat .333 and slugged .652. Still only 20 years old, Bruce was promoted once again, this time to class AAA Louisville where he batted .305 /.358 /.567. He was named the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.
Bruce hit .364/.393/.630 with 34 runs and 37 RBI in 49 games for Louisville to open 2008 and was called up to The Show. His major league debut was stunning as he reached base in all five plate appearances. Hitting second and playing center field in a game against Pittsburgh, Bruce drew a walk from Ian Snell in his first big-league plate appearance, then stole second. In the third, he singled against Snell. He drew another walk in the 5th and scored on an Adam Dunn homer. In the 6th, he singled off of Damaso Marte to score Paul Bako. The next inning, Bruce doubled against Marino Salas to drive home Bako once more. He drew another walk in his first plate appearance in his next game, before his streak of reaching base safely ended at six. It was the longest such streak to begin a career since Ted Cox reached base in the first seven plate appearances of his career in 1977.
On June 17, 2015, Bruce had five hits in a game against the Detroit Tigers, becoming the first Reds player to collect that many since Willy Taveras back in 2009. With his name featuring in a number of trade rumors in late July of 2016, he hit a home run in five straight games from July 23-27. He had been selected to the All-Star team for the third time earlier that month. He was leading the National League with 79 RBIs at that point. He was in fact traded on August 1st, heading to the New York Mets in return for Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell. In his first game for the Mets, he went 0 for 4 playing right field and batting third in a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on August 2nd. His first heroics came on August 4th, when he launched a three-run homer for his first hit in his new uniform after starting 0-for-10; the blast came against Nathan Eovaldi of the Yankees and helped the Mets to a 4-1 win. However, he hit only .219 in 50 games for his new team and earned some boos from the Citi Field faithful as a result, although he did hit 8 homers and drive in 19 runs. Combined with his excellent start, that gave him for the year 33 homers and 99 RBIs to go along with a .250 average, he then went 0 for 3 as the Mets lost the Wild Card Game to the San Francisco Giants. There was some question about whether the Mets would retain him for 2017, but they did keep him on board, even though they also re-signed Yoennis Cespedes. He headed into the season as the projected right-fielder, and as an insurance policy at first base were Lucas Duda not to be fully recovered from the injury that cost him most of the previous season.
Bruce continued to hit well for the Mets in the first half of 2017. He was at .266 with 23 homers and 59 RBIs at the All-Star break, making him the most productive hitter on the team alongside Michael Conforto, their lone All-Star. However, the Mets were headed nowhere, and with his contract ending after the season, it was widely speculated he would be dealt again at the trading deadline. That did not happen, but on August 9th, he was sent to the Cleveland Indians, who had just lost OF Michael Brantley to an ankle injury. The Mets only received marginal prospect Ryder Ryan in return, as Cleveland was assuming most of Bruce's remaining salary. He was a hero on back-to-back days with the Indians as they put together the longest streak of consecutive wins in major league history in late August and early September. On September 13th, he hit a three-run homer off Buck Farmer of the Detroit Tigers in the 1st inning to erase an early 1-0 deficit and send Cleveland on its way to a 5-3 win, its 21st in a row. Then, the next day, he popped up with one out and the bases loaded with the Royals trailing 2-1 in the 8th, but after his teammates had tied the game in spectacular fashion in the 9th, he came to bat again in the 10th with Jose Ramirez on second base and Edwin Encarnacion on first; he lashed a pitch from Brandon Maurer into the right field corner and it bounced into the stands for an automatic double, giving Cleveland its 22nd straight win, the longest such streak without any ties in major league history. He hit .248 with 7 homers and 26 RBIs in 43 games for the Indians, giving him a career-high 36 homers and a second 100-RBI season. As the team's starting rightfielder in Game 1 of the ALDS against the New York Yankees on October 5th, he had a hand in all four runs of a 4-0 win: he doubled and came in to score on a double play grounder in the 2nd, hit a two-run homer off Sonny Gray in the 4th, and added a sacrifice fly against Jaime Garcia in the 6th. However, the Indians were knocked out by the Yankees in five games in the series.
Following the 2017 season, Bruce became a free agent and on January 10th, it was reported that he had agreed to a three-year deal worth $39 million to return to the Mets in 2018. The deal was finalized on January 16th. He had a disappointing season, however, like most of the team, being limited to 94 games during which he hit .223 with 9 homers and 37 RBIs. Following the season, the Mets decided to get rid of him, forcing the Seattle Mariners to take him and the remainder of his contract to balance some of the salary obligation in a blockbuster trade that landed them 2B Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz. Joining Bruce was P Anthony Swarzak and three prospects, Gerson Bautista, Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic.
His first game for the Mariners took place in Japan, at the Tokyo Dome, on March 20, 2019, as the Mariners opened the season with a two-game series against the Oakland Athletics across the Pacific Ocean. He had the honor of getting the first hit of the major league season, as he singled off Mike Fiers in the top of the 1st. He got off to a great start power-wise, with 9 homers and 17 RBIs in March/April, even if his average was just .187. On May 31st, he hit the 300th homer of his career in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Two days later, on June 2nd, with the Mariners in a free fall, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for minor leaguer Jake Scheiner. He was hitting .212 with 14 homers and 28 RBIs in 47 games. His acquisition became even more crucial when, the day after his acquisition, Andrew McCutchen was the victim of a season-ending knee injury. Jay quickly made his presence in the line-up felt, as on June 4th, he homered twice and drove in 6 runs in a 9-6 win over the San Diego Padres. In fact he homered four times in his first four games for the Phils, something no one had done in team history. However, he went on the injured list on July 17th with an oblique strain. He returned on August 8th, but just for one game, as he strained his hip flexor that day and had to go right back on the IL.
- 2007 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Sarasota Reds, Chattanooga Lookouts and Louisville Bats
- 2008 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 3-time NL All-Star (2011, 2012 & 2016)
- 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2012 & 2013)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 10 (2008-2013, 2015-2017 & 2019)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2011-2013, 2016 & 2017)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2013 & 2017)
- Jason Beck: "Bruce brings the thunder in ALDS Game 1: Right fielder plates or scores every run in shutout win over Yankees", mlb.com, October 6, 2017. 
- Bryan Hoch: "Source: Mets, Bruce reunite on 3-year deal", mlb.com, January 11, 2018. 
- daniel Kramer: "Adjustments key to Bruce's improvement: Outfielder seeking long-term deal on free-agent market", mlb.com, November 25, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Mets glad they hung on to Jay Bruce, who's ready to take bite out of Big Apple", mlb.com, USA Today Sports, March 2, 2017. 
- Mark Sheldon: "Bruce puts focus on field, not trade speculation; Two-time All-Star: Reds organization is 'much more to me than just a baseball team'", mlb.com, February 21, 2016.