Michael Brantley should be your favorite Cleveland Indians. That was one of my favorite tweets to send out a year ago, and now it seems like a really obvious thing to say when it didn’t feel so obvious back then. He’s been named the American League POW for June 9-15.
Michael led all Major League hitters in batting average, runs scored and on-base percentage (.625), and was tops in the A.L. in hits, total bases (23) and times on base (20). Additionally, he was second in the Junior Circuit in slugging percentage (.885) and was tied for third in extra-base hits (5).
Brantley, one of 22 current second-generation Major Leaguers, is batting .322 (85-for-264) this season with 17 doubles, 11 homers, 45 RBI and 49 runs scored in 68 games. Defensively, Michael’s eight outfield assists trail only Yoenis Cespedes of Oakland for the A.L. lead.
Perhaps the most fascinating nugget here is the relationship between slugging percentage and on-base percentage. When Brantley was included as the PTBNL in the CC Sabathia trade, we were told that he was a speedy on-base guy. Someone like…well…someone like Michael Bourn (used to be): Not much pop in his bat, but the eye, legs, and glove to make him a valuable player. To this point in his career, Brantley has largely played in that mold, albeit slightly underwhelmingly so. His career OBP coming into 2014 sat a tick above average at .330 while his slugging percentage (a rough gauge of his ability to hit for power) was an anemic .382. Because he’d been touted as an on-base machine, I always figured the improvements would come on that side of the equation. But if what we’re seeing so far this year is any indication, Michael may be grooming himself as a power hitter.