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2023 Athletics Season in Review: Jonah Bride

Here comes the Bride, ready for his long-awaited breakout.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The past two seasons have not been nice to Jonah Bride, who had nearly as many walks as he did hits in 2023. However, there are a lot of underlying numbers that point towards a breakout or, at the very least, a regression towards the mean. He’ll once again have a chance next year to prove he can and should be the Oakland Athletics’ super utility man of the future.

How Acquired?

Coming off a solid senior year at the University of South Carolina, in which he hit .301/.419/.415, the A’s drafted Bride all the way down in the 23rd round of the 2018 MLB Draft, aka the Kyler Murray year. As a late-round pick, expectations were low and any value he could provide to the upper minors or major leagues would be a win.

What were the expectations?

In 2022, Bride got a real chance to show that he could become the A’s next Chad Pinder, even getting to play alongside him. His ability to move all around the infield and outfield gave him a solid foundation to carve out a role on the major league squad. Unfortunately, he squandered that opportunity with a 65 OPS+ in 187 plate appearances. He did make good on his on-base reputation, walking at an above-average 10.2% rate. Heading into 2023, with stilly plenty of at bats to go around, fans and the organization hoped he could finally seize that super utility role he seemed destined for.

2023 Results

With a few more young position players solidifying their places in the major league lineup, there actually ended being fewer opportunities for Bride. He was only able to get into 40 games, spending the majority of the season in a hitters’ haven at AAA, where he put up a godly .305/.432/.544 batting line. His .170/.286/.205 line at the major league level looked nothing like that and, on the surface, was a step backwards from 2022.

What went right? What went wrong?

Despite Bride’s apparent underperformance, his underlying numbers painted a very different story. While his wOBA sat at a measly .237, Statcast estimated that he was a much better hitter, ranking him 5th on the team (min 100 PAs) in xwOBA at .323, behind only Brent Rooker, Ryan Noda, Zack Gelof, and Seth Brown.

For whatever reason, Bride seems to have run into a ton of bad fortune, carrying a BABIP of only .221. On top of that, he actually showed he had some thump in his bat too, hitting balls with an average exit velocity of 88.1 mph. But somehow, he only was rewarded by the baseball gods with a miniscule 0.034 ISO. Had his expected numbers come to fruition, Bride would’ve been right around a league average hitter last season and likely would’ve spent most of the season in the majors.

2024 Outlook

Going into 2024, Bride should be able to continue with his current process and expect better results to show for it. However, being almost 28 years old, he should be hitting the peak of his abilities so if there’s a year to have a breakout, 2024 is it. If he doesn’t get a callup in the first half of the season, he may find himself on another team before the trade deadline. With so many traits that the A’s love and still roles left to figure out, Bride should have another opportunity next season to finally take the Chad Pinder mantle for years to come.