Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brantley For Leadoff Man 2013

let me start this off by saying i love my Tribe beat writer boys and sports columnists. i love their articles and i respect their opinions. but when it comes to the issue of who should lead off for the Tribe in 2013, i have to set the record straight.

now that spring training is upon us, lineup projections have been on the minds of many. the notion that Brantley should not or simply can not bat leadoff has been mentioned by some, but i'm not sure if those people really have all the facts regarding this. so who better to put things in perspective here than me? this one's for Bast, D-Man, Hoynsie, Camino, and Terry (even though they'll never read it) as well as any other naysayers out there.

some of my boys think Michael should bat 5th or 6th because that's where he hit best last year. this is basically stating the obvious but of course Michael had good numbers in the 5th spot, he played the most games/had the most at bats there. any hitter who is in fact a good hitter will undoubtedly have the best overall #s in the spot where he has the most at bats. i think that should be common sense.

let me compare those 2 spots to show you how batting average #s don't always tell the whole story.

Michael played 65 games batting 5th, with 237 at bats, finishing with a .308 BA there.

Michael played 19 games batting 6th, with 60 at bats, finishing with a .350 BA there.

does this mean Michael is better in the 6th spot? not at all. because sometimes, the less at bats/smaller sample size you have in a spot can misconstrue your true capability at that spot. this can be proven by looking at Michael's BA in the 8th spot last year.

Michael played 2 games batting 8th, with 4 at bats, finishing with a .750 BA there.

i rest my case.

now let me pull up his leadoff #s from 2012.

Michael played 22 games batting leadoff, with 97 at bats, finishing with a .227 BA there.

i'm not going to lie and say that his leadoff #s were great. they clearly were not. but you can't just go by the #s. the majority of Michael's leadoff at bats came in April. April was a month where he atypically struggled. my argument is that you could have put Michael at any place in the batting order, and he would not have performed well in that first month. his approach at the plate was different and it threw him off for the first few weeks. it had NOTHING to do with him not being able to lead off. i will point this out to people until i'm blue in the face if i have to!

i know a lot of people aren't looking at it that way, but i'm saying you really need to keep that in mind because for the entire rest of the season, he performed much better. Michael was one of, if not the most consistent hitter throughout the season after April. is no professional ballplayer allowed to "slump" at any point in the year? a lot of players tend to do it mid-season. he got his "slump" out of the way at the beginning. doesn't mean he can't hit leadoff.

we faced a lot of tough pitching last year and it seemed like almost half the time that Michael was leading off, he had the task of going against the other team's ace. (more evidence as to why #s just don't tell the whole story.) he was not the only one who failed to hit against certain pitchers, but because he led off, this seemed to be a bigger issue than the other players who whiffed at the plate. [although, Verlander has never phased him, as he is 10-for-23 against the Detroit ace.]

if anyone besides myself remembers, the last 3 games in April that Michael led off, we played the Angels. Weaver, Haren, and Santana started if i'm not mistaken. and what do you know, Michael had a leadoff hit in each of the 3 games against these pitchers. so i'd like to think that by this point, he was finally starting to get back into his groove. however, after that series he was removed from the leadoff spot. i truly believe Manny Acta jumped the gun. because of this, we have no statistical proof that Michael would have been fine had he stayed in the leadoff spot. i can only go off gut instinct. and because my gut instinct about this man has been right since 2009, i think this is a strong argument.

furthermore, in 2011 before Michael started playing injured with his broken hamate bone, he had an approximate .280 BA in the leadoff spot (from April to mid-July). history speaks for itself and i don't know why more people can't give Michael the benefit of the doubt. i don't care if he doesn't hit for power, your leadoff guy doesn't need to hit home runs, he just needs to get on base. and with Michael's professionalism and patience at the plate, i believe we will see him continue to get on base more and more as his career goes on.

so who do people want to see bat leadoff over Brantley? i've heard Kip's name thrown out there because of his speed and ability to steal bases. i'm sorry but Jason is not a leadoff man. i think his placement in the 2 or 3 hole is perfect for him and for us. i've also heard new center fielder (rhymes with) "Boo Scrubbs" is a candidate. you gotta be kidding me with this. although he too is a speedy thief on the basepaths, he has a very high strikeout rate. when you have a guy on your team who's very hard to strike out, aka Brantley, why on earth would you put the guy who Ks all the time in the leadoff spot? Scrubbs should be the second leadoff man as they call it in the 9 hole. Brantley's not exactly a slow poke either, you know. this is not a debate of Pronk proportions lol

and let's not forget, Michael doesn't need to bat in the middle of our order anymore. you could argue that last year, we just didn't have many guys who could drive runs in and Michael did a good job with that. but now that we've acquired Swisher and Reynolds and yes i'll even throw Scrubbs in there, Michael can and should go back to the spot that i believe is rightfully his. with that, i rest my case.

if Brantley is given the chance to start 2013 as our leadoff man, he cannot afford to have another bad April. he won't have the luxury of starting out slow, he needs to get his stance perfected in spring training and really come out the gate with guns blazing. if he doesn't, he may not get another chance to lead off in Cleveland ever again. then it's going to be the same negative things coming from the writers all over again and quite frankly, i don't want to have to repeat myself anymore lol

all i know is, you can't take the man out of center field AND leadoff and expect him to really be happy here. he was groomed to be a CF and leadoff hitter, and now he's on the verge of playing left and possibly batting 5th or lower. he did all he could do in center last season, and made quite an impression there. then uncontrollable circumstances brought an outfielder here who can only play center, so despite his excellent defense and home run robbing catches, Michael is forced to move over. it's sad and it sucks. i won't be surprised if there's some trouble come his arbitration time next year, but hopefully not. i fully expect Michael to handle his "demotion" with the utmost class in public, but behind closed doors he will not be happy and i don't blame him. it's his career and he can "pout" if he wants to, D-Man =P

Go Tribe 2013 and Go Brantley =D

PS--as a longtime avid reader of all the aforementioned writers' articles and tweets, i actually know who originated the nickname "Dr. Smooth" for Brantley. i'm honestly shocked this person doesn't realize that he in fact was the mastermind behind it. one of these days i might clue the boys in. til then, i guess it's just my little secret ;D

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