I have been admittedly bullish on Michael Brantley since the Indians acquired him from the Brewers in 2008. I like guys who don’t make outs, and throughout his minor league career, Brantley’s on base percentage was a remarkable .388. I love batters who walk more than they strike out, and Brantley certainly did that in the minors (292 BBs and 218 Ks). I adore players who are successful base stealers more than 75% of the time: Brantley stole 162 bases in 201 minor league attempts—an 81% success rate.
Michael Brantley was my kind of player. In the minor leagues.
The problem, of course, is that his minor league success has not translated remotely to the Big Leagues. His MLB OBP is a measley .317. He’s struck out more than twice as often as he’s walked. Entering this season, Brantley had been successful on only 71% of his stolen base attempts (below the break-even point from a run expectancy perspective), and even more troubling, he’d attempted only 38 steals total.
In other words, all the tantalizing talent we saw in the MiLB numbers just didn’t seem to be translating. Much like the 1B he’ll forever be linked with, it was starting to appear that Brantley had 4-A skillz. He’d always rake at AAA, but never adjust to the superior pitching the Bigs. 1
- It’s moments like these when we pause to recognize how rare players like Jason Kipnis really are. Players who hit in the Big Leagues from day one, without substantial adjustment time just don’t come along all that often. [back]