Sunday, July 28, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 33: Darren Bragg

If Darren Bragg were not the only player Boston received in the trade of Jamie Moyer to the Seattle Mariners I think a lot of people would have liked him more, or at least remembered him more fondly.  Bragg was the type of player that Boston fans love.  He was not the most talented player in the world, but he played hard all the time.
The acquisition of Bragg coincided with the resurgence of the team in 1996.  He added a spark to the top of the lineup.  He did not play particularly well, from a numbers standpoint, but his energy rubbed off.  For the rest of the 1996 season, which he mostly spent in center field, Bragg hit .252/.357/.365 with three home runs and six stolen bases.  He walked almost as much as he struck out.
The 1997 season saw Bragg play in a career-high 153 games as the team's regular center fielder.  He hit .257/.337/.386 with nine home runs, 57 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases.  He was also a terrific defensive player, finishing first in fielding percentage and third in defensive WAR that season.  

1998 was his final season in Boston and Bragg had his best season.  He hit .279/.351/.423 with eight home runs, 57 RBIs, and 29 doubles.  Bragg also continued to play terrific defense despite becoming more of a fourth outfielder.  Boston had Darren Lewis and Damon Buford to go along with Darren Bragg between right and center field. 

My fondest memory of Bragg is this play off of future Red Sox star David Ortiz:

Bragg was non-tendered after the 1998 season and bounced around for several seasons, never again playing as much as he did for Boston from 1996 through 1998.

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