The Cleveland Indians wet the bed this weekend in their 3 game series in the #WarForTheDivision with the Detroit Tigers. The Motor City Kitties made the Indians fans possibly regret the high level of attendance during the series. Do the Tribe get nervous with a full house since they are not used to it? The Indians had good news as Michael Brantley returned from his time off due to a concussion. There are some concerns that it could have long term impact, but for now the Tribe are confident in his health. The team should be careful if/when Dr. Smooth wins a game in a walk off, lay off the head fellas.
Yet Brantley has had a solid year, leading SI to even list him in their Top 5 for the AL MVP award. They note that Brantley could fall out quickly due to the injury:
5. Michael Brantley, LF, Indians
Season Stats: .323/.391/.519, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 9 SB, 49 R
Last Three Weeks: .364/.432/.545, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 17 R
A former centerfielder with speed and a strong arm (he is tied with Bautista and Red Sox rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. for second among outfielders with seven assists), Brantley surprisingly grades out as below average in leftfield according to the three major advanced fielding metrics (Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and Fielding Runs Above Average). That undermines his candidacy somewhat and keeps him behind Cruz.
Still, Brantley’s break-out age-27 performance thus far deserves acknowledgment here. Sadly, he’s unlikely to remain on this list three weeks from now. Brantley suffered a concussion when he hit his head on Angels shortstop John McDonald‘s knee while trying to break up a double play last Monday. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same way Justin Morneau suffered his concussion in 2010, and the same shortstop.
If the Indians are able to stay in contention throughout the season it is Brantley’s all around game that will be vital. The Tribe doesn’t have a huge bat, or overpowering arm, to carry them so the do it all Dr. Smooth provides them with consistency at the plate and in the field. Brantley struggled in his first game back on Saturday going 0-5 but was back to his normal self Saturday going 3-5 with 3 RBIs with 2 doubles.
What do you think of Brantley’s MVP chances? Is he the MVP of the team at least? Or does Corey Kluber get some votes there?