Michael Brantley

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Michael Charles Brantley Jr.
(Dr. Smooth)

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Biographical Information[edit]


The son of Mickey Brantley and cousin of Justin Brantley, Michael Brantley is an outfielder who was the prize acquisition by the Cleveland Indians from the Milwaukee Brewers, as the player to be named later, in the CC Sabathia deal back in 2008. Michael is a four-time American League All-Star.

Brantley was signed by Brewers scout Larry Pardo as a 7th round pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He made his major league debut with the Indians in 2009 and started with a bang, picking up 7 hits in his first 19 at bats for a .368 average after 5 games, finishing with a .313/.358/.348 line in September action. In 2012, Brantley had a 22-game hitting streak for the Indians. He had a career year in 2014, hitting .327 with 45 doubles and 20 homers in 156 games, scoring 94 runs and driving in 97. He was an All-Star for the first time and also won a Silver Slugger Award that season. Brantley missed most of the 2016 season to injury; limited to 11 games, he missed the Indians' run to the 2016 World Series. He made a remarkable comeback in 2017, as he was named to the All-Star team for the second time and was one of the offensive leaders as the Indians led the AL Central. On August 8th, he was placed on the disabled list with an injury to his right ankle. The Indians were concerned enough that they traded for outfielder Jay Bruce the next day. Indeed, by late September, Brantley still had not returned and the Indians were conceding there was little chance he would play again this season, even if they went deep in the postseason. In 88 games, he hit .299 with 9 homers and 52 RBI. With two games left to play, he was reactivated so the team could test whether he would be able to contribute in the postseason. He was not 100% and the Indians would probably have preferred not to use him, but an injury to Edwin Encarnacion in Game 2 of the ALDS forced them to turn to Brantley. He went just 1 for 11 as the Indians were shockingly eliminated in five games. After the season, he underwent surgery on his right ankle.

He started the 2018 season on the disabled list but was activated before the Indians' home opener on April 6th. He got his season off on the right foot with a two-run single off Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals in the 1st inning, leading the Indians to a 3-2 win. It was the start of a solid season, as he returned to the All-Star Game and hit .309 with 36 doubles, 17 homers, 89 runs scored and 76 RBI. In the postseason, he went 2 for 10 as the Indians lost to the Houston Astros in the Division Series. Following the season he became a free agent and, on December 17th, news media reported that he had signed a two-year deal with the Houston Astros. He excelled in his fancy new digs, batting .311 with 64 extra base hits (22 homers), 88 runs scored and 90 runs driven in with a third straight All-Star appearance. He batted .321 in the World Series as the Astros fell in 7 games to the Washington Nationals. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he hit .300 in 46 games, with 5 homers and 22 RBIs. HIs OPS+ was 126, exactly the same as in his first season in Houston. He continued to do well in the postseason, with a total of 18 hits over three series, for an average of .346, along with 10 runs, 11 RBIs, 6 walks and 3 homers.

Brantley was a free agent again after the 2020 season, and signing him again was a priority for the Astros, especially as outfield-mate George Springer, also a free agent, was unlikely to return. On January 20, 2021, one day after Springer had signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, a rumor briefly made the rounds that Michael as well was about to sign with the Jays, but that was denied after a few hours, it was announced that he had inked another two-year deal with Houston, for $32 million. He hit .311 in 121 games that year and made the All-Star team for a fifth and final time. He hit only 8 homers with 47 RBIs, but scored 68 runs, had 29 doubles, and his OPS+ was a very good 119. He had a very strong postseason, hitting over .300 in three of the four series in which the Astros played, including a .333 average in their loss to the Atlanta Braves in the 2021 World Series, in what was his second appearance in the Fall Classic. He continued to be a productive player in his next two seasons, but had trouble staying healthy enough to be on the field. In 2022, the Astros won the second World Series title in franchise history, but he missed the entire postseason. He played 64 games during the regular season, with his usual level of understated competence, putting up an OPS+ of 126 with a .288 average, 5 homers and 26 RBIs. The injury woes also affected his ability to play the outfield, as he made just 29 starts in left field. In 2023, he was out of action until August 29th, then played 15 games over the season's final month, hitting .278 with 2 homers and 7 RBIs. This time, he was available for the postseason and had a good Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, hitting .273 with a homer, but in the battle of the Lone Star State against the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, he was just 2 for 17 as the Astros went down in seven games. On January 5, 2024, he announced that he was calling it a career after 15 seasons of batting .298 in 1,445 games, with 129 homers, 758 runs and 720 RBIs. His retirement was part of a changing of the guard for the Astros, as manager Dusty Baker had also announced he was calling it quits a couple of months earlier.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 5-time AL All-Star (2014, 2017-2019 & 2021)
  • AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2014)
  • AL Doubles Leader (2015)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2014 & 2019)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2014)
  • Won one World Series with the Houston Astros in 2022 (he did not play in the World Series)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan Bastian: "Indians to carefully monitor Brantley's pace: Francona says club will be conservative with outfielder who played 11 games in 2016", mlb.com, February 14, 2017. [1]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Brantley's resurgence impressive by numbers", mlb.com, April 26, 2017. [2]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros end drama, seal Brantley deal (source)", mlb.com, January 20, 2021. [3]
  • Jon Paul Morosi: "Brantley, ‘Dr. Smooth,’ calls it a career after 15 seasons", mlb.com, January 5, 2024. [4]

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