Why am I reviewing a guy who didn’t hit .300, who didn’t steal 15 bases, who didn’t hit 10 home runs, and who didn’t record 65 runs or steals? Why “waste” an article on Michael Brantley. Let’s see if I can explain why.
Let’s start with his lack of elite production shall we. It is true that Brantley didn’t hit .300 (he batted .288). It is true he didn’t steal 15 bases (he stole 12). He didn’t drive in or score 65 (he had 60 RBIs and 63 runs scored). He also only went deep six times. But I’m telling you, there is plenty to like here. If you were in an AL-only league Brantley was a strong option in the outfield. There were even times where he was worth starting in shallow mixed leagues such as May when he hit .296, knocked in 16 runners, scored 15 times and stole seven bases (read those numbers again to let the impact sink in). And let me tell you, though it doesn’t look like it at first blush, his overall effort was actually pretty darn solid. So here’s the payoff. How many outfielders in baseball, in 2012, hit .288 with six homers, 60 RBIs, 63 runs scored and 12 steals? The answer might shock you – it’s nine, and look at the list:
and… Michael Brantley
He’s not on par with those eight, he never will be, but it just goes to show you that if you do a little bit of everything maybe you can have some quiet value.
Brantley hit .288 in the first half. He hit .288 in the second half. He hit .310 at home.
He hit .265 on the road as his OPS fell .133 points from his effort in Cleveland.
Brantley’s walk rate was a career best as his K-rate was a career-low. The result was an impressive 0.95 BB/K ratio that, simply put, is an excellent number.
He has little homer power though he did rap out 37 doubles.
He knows what he does well, and he just goes out and does it. He hits line drives – 20.2 percent or better in his four seasons – and his ground ball rate has been between 47.9 and 48.7 percent the past three years.
What you see is what you get.
Brantley will not hit 20 homers.
Brantley will not drive in 100 runs.
Brantley will not score 100 runs.
Brantley will not steal 25 bases.
But, and it’s a deserving but, he’s a good ballplayer who does a little bit of everything. He’s only played two full seasons in his young career, and the seeds of growth are here. I’m especially intrigued by the significant plate discipline growth Brantley showed in ’12. If he can continue along with a K/BB mark around 1:1, we could see Brantley sneak into the .300′s in 2013. With that, let me ask you this. I know that .288-6-60-63-12 looks pretty boring, but what if that line turns into .300-10-75-75-15 in 2013? Would you be interested then? Those numbers are possible, maybe not probable but possible, with Brantley. Given that his draft day cost will be rather inexpensive, he would seem to profile as a strong 5th outfield option in mixed leagues in 2013. Remember that on draft day.
By Ray Flowers