Monday, October 14, 2013

Wrapping Up Brantley's 2013 Season

i'm going to do this Michael Brantley wrap up blog similarly to how i did it last year. again, i will link all the past monthly blogs here if anyone needs a refresher: April, May, June, July, August, September, and Postseason October.

now for the last time, here are Michael's final #s for the 2013 season:

Michael had a total of 611 plate appearances and 556 at bats in 151 games. in total, he had 158 hits, 119 singles, 26 doubles, 3 triples, 10 home runs, 73 RBI, 8 sac flies, 66 runs scored, 40 walks, 1 intentional walk, 4 hit by pitches, 17 stolen bases, 4 caught stealing, 3 sac bunts, 67 strikeouts, 42 first at bat hits, 222 left on base, 257 putouts, 11 assists, and 1 double play.

2013 batting average: .284 (158-556)

OBP: .332

SLG: .396

OPS: .728

overall #s while playing the outfield: 257 putouts, 11 assists, 1 double play, 0 errors, 1.000 fielding percentage (1297.1 innings, 151 games)

Michael played in 151 of 162 games. he had a hit in 99 of 151 games* that he played and reached base safely in 115 games, 14 straight in April. (*he did not have any official at bats in 3 of those games because he was subbed in defensively in late innings.)

Michael started and played left field in 144 games. of those 144 games, he completed 143 in left field. he was moved to center field for the final 4 innings of 1 game. he was a defensive substitute in 7 games, playing a total of 16 innings, all in left field. he came in to PH in late innings in 4 games. after he PH'd, he remained in those 4 games as the left fielder and played a total of 10 innings. he had 8 complete games off and missed 3 games due to the birth of his baby. and for the first time, he did not have any notable injuries this season.

Michael provided another season of highlights for himself and his fans. there were many exciting things that happened for Michael all through the year. he set career highs, he accomplished things he's never accomplished before in the big leagues, he played phenomenal defense in left field, and he beat an Indians record that was set back in 1966.

for the second year in a row, Michael finished the season with the highest batting average on the team. but the road wasn't easy. Michael had his struggles and some slumps, causing his average to alternate month-to-month, going up and then going down a bit. this is evidenced by his .279 batting average in the first half of the season versus .291 in the second. it was a close race for the title, but when all was said and done, Michael beat out Jason Kipnis by 5 ten thousandths of a point. while Michael did not pass his BA from last year, .284 is still very respectable. and when compared to the rest of the league, he had the 45th highest batting average, coming in right behind former Indian Shin-Soo Choo, oddly enough.

this season, Michael made a case for replacing his Dr. Smooth nickname with Mr. Clutch. he hit .375 (45-for-120) with runners in scoring position, 3rd highest in the American League. he also hit .364 (24-for-66) with two outs and runners in scoring position. these RISP numbers were the highest on the team. part of his success in these situations comes from the fact that he can hit both left-handed pitchers and right-handed pitchers well. Michael's batting average this year against lefties was .276 (48-for-174), while his batting average against righties was .288 (110-for-382). no matter who he was facing, you just always felt confident that he could come through. he had 14 go-ahead hits this season. and when Michael got 2 or more hits in a game, the Indians went 25-17.

additionally, Michael ended the year hitting .338 (27-for-80) in a 1-2 count, .221 (19-for-86) in a 2-2 count, and .293 (12-for-41) in a 3-2 count. sometimes when Michael was slumping he worked quickly in the count. even though that bugged me, it seemed to work out okay for him. he hit .345 (20-for-58) when he swung at the very first pitch he saw, .281 (16-for-57) in an 0-1 count, .348 (24-for-69) in a 1-0 count, and .311 (19-for-61) in a 1-1 count. whatever works lol

Michael had some modest hitting streaks at different times throughout the year, but it was his 11-game hitting streak in September that got everybody talking. he was on fire, batting .467 (21-for-45) with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 10 RBI, 6 runs scored, 2 walks and 2 stolen bases during his streak. this helped earn him a .345 batting average for the month of September, 3rd highest in the American League.

also during this hitting streak, Michael recorded 4 straight 3-hit games with at least 1 RBI. prior to this, he only had 4 straight games with 2 hits and 1 RBI, so this feat was a career best streak for him. in addition, Michael became just the 5th major league player to have 4 straight games of 3+ hits and 1+ RBI since the year 2000.

my proudest moment of Michael's season just might have been when he set a new club record in August. (relinking that blog here.) it wasn't really being hyped up by any media members but i was well aware that the day was coming and had my countdown going. when Michael broke Rocky Colavito's record of 212 consecutive games played in the outfield without committing an error, i was elated. this new statistic is going to be in the Indians books for a very long time, and knowing that Michael has already made this kind of mark in his professional career with the Indians has me beaming every time i really think about it. not to mention when the 2013 regular season came to a close, Michael had built up that record and his career high to 245 consecutive games in the outfield without an error. and it's even more exciting knowing that he can keep adding to his record next year.

i also cannot forget about Michael playing in his very first major league postseason game. this was such a special day in Michael's life. it's what he's been working towards and dreaming of for a long time. in spring training, he mentioned that the Indians would make the playoffs this year. whether that was just a professional athlete's standard way of optimistic preseason thinking, or if Michael possibly has some sort of clairvoyant ability, he was right. while the Tribe's postseason play was brief, Michael still managed to record his first ever postseason hit. and i couldn't have been happier for him.

Michael remained under the radar for most of the year despite another great season with some record breaking numbers. it's amazing how that can happen. he is the ultimate quiet storm. and because there were no big standout players on the team, Michael's name was even tossed out there as a possible MVP candidate. just a mention of him for that particular accolade is one hell of an honor and it made me very proud.

now let's compare his 2013 numbers to his 2012 & 2011 numbers.


Batting Average


Plate Appearances
At Bats
Games Played

Home Runs
Sac Flies
Runs Scored
Intentional Walks
Hit By Pitches
Stolen Bases
Caught Stealing
Sac Bunts
First At Bat Hits

Double Plays
Fielding %

*if he hadn't played injured, i calculated a .281 BA
**i did not document this number at that time
red denotes he did better last year in that category
blue denotes a career high

i kept the 2011 column in there but i'm mainly just going to compare this season to last season. as i stated above, Michael set some career highs for himself this year. however, he also underperformed in some categories. he played 2 more games this year than last year and had a few more plate appearances and at bats. this was his first full year with absolutely no injury issues to speak of, thus proving he is not injury prone. thank god lol i'm going to start with discussing all the good stuff he accomplished in 2013.

the first category Michael set a new career high in was home runs. he originally set a new high in home runs in August and ended the year with 10 total. and for the first time in his career, he had not one but two multi-home run games in June and July. the initial time he did this was very exciting. i never imagined he would do it twice in one season, mostly because he's not known as a home run hitter. some of the power hitters on the team didn't even accomplish this once, so it's definitely noteworthy.

jumping around in the batting order may have helped Michael set a few other career highs. i had to wait until the last month of the season for it, but he acquired an RBI career high in September. he drove in 13 runs and set a record for himself at 73. this year brought Michael a career high in runs scored as well. fun fact: the Indians were 40-14 when Michael scored a run. it's good that aside from his 10 home runs (where he drove himself in 10 times), other players brought him home 56 times. it reveals that the team is pretty well-rounded and we have a lot of dependable players now, especially lower in the lineup. for usually hitting 5th or lower, i think this was an acceptable number for Michael.

Michael also recorded a career high in stolen bases, yet 17 stolen bases still seems a bit low to me. we do have a lot of base stealers on the team now, but considering Michael was very speedy in the minors, he can probably do better than this. he hit a lot of singles this year, and 2nd base wasn't occupied every time he got to 1st, so i do wish he had attempted to steal more. however, i like that he was only caught stealing 4 times. i think 20-25 steals would be a better average for him. he should set his sights higher for next year. actually, i know he will.

the Indians desperately needed a solid force in left field, and Michael was finally it for them this season. he made some nice running and diving grabs, and he set another career high with 11 outfield assists. also in 151 games, Michael did not have any errors in the outfield, an improvement over his 1 error in 144 games in center field last year. he was the only regular position player to finish his season with no errors.

as much as i would have enjoyed it, sadly Michael did not improve in every facet of the game. he had 1 less triple than his last 2 seasons. i'm not overly concerned about this. i know if Michael is on 2nd base and the guy behind him gets a hit, 9 out of 10 times, he's going to score. he'll never be a high triples guy. and that's okay as long as he continues getting to 2nd base, either by hitting doubles outright or advancing himself to 2nd with steals.

one thing i AM concerned with are Michael's doubles, or lack thereof. 26 compared to 37 last year isn't good. i can't lie, i was expecting more. at least as many as he hit in 2012 would have sufficed. i think people will agree with me on this. he's got speed, and i want to see him use it more to stretch some hits into doubles next season. i know he's capable of that.

i also have to admit i was a little saddened when Michael passed his strikeout total from last year. it wasn't like he had a lot more at bats this season, so i hope next year he can get back down into the 50s again. if it's any consolation, most of his strikeouts were swinging (42) as opposed to looking (25). and we had many players on this team with way more strikeouts than Michael. hell, 67 could be a goal for some guys.

another area that Michael did not excel in was walks. i don't care about the intentional walks because players really don't have much control over when those are gonna be issued. it's the regular walks that really matter. there were times when Michael struggled this year and was not working the count, so it's no surprise that his walks went down from 2012. but this is not acceptable. he once was very patient at the plate and he needs to get back to doing that, even during the times when he's struggling for hits. combine his decrease in walks with his increase in strikeouts, and that ratio is also not a good number. hopefully next year the opposite happens.

in 2 more games played, his hits this year were almost equal to last year. i don't have that much of a problem with his 2013 batting average, even though i wished there could have been an increase from last season. if his BA was low and he wasn't getting hits or driving in runs, then there would be an issue. but he still had some superior numbers and was one of the most reliable hitters on the team, so in that regard i can't really complain. but i know others will.

there will always be that fan base who thinks Michael is just mediocre, and much like some critics complained that the Indians only made the playoffs because of their easy end of the year schedule, some people will say Michael is overrated and only finished at .284 because he got lucky with his hitting streak in September. i don't want to hear this nonsense. if anything, Michael is underrated. yes, he did have a hot streak. so what? you can't take that away from him. there were a couple weeks this season where he bat atypically bad, so having that hot streak in September just balanced things out and put him right around where he should be. he earned every stat he racked up, fair and square. if it was so easy, everyone would have strung together a hitting streak for themselves. and that wasn't the case.

because Michael's overall batting average was a little lower this year, his OBP, SLG, and OPS numbers were all lower, too. while i'm okay with his BA, i'm kind of dissatisfied with these numbers. i think his OBP should be at least .350 if not more, and his SLG should be in the .400s for sure. according to statistician Bill James, an above average player has an OPS between .767 and .833. so there's definitely room for improvement here. there's always room for improvement somewhere, cause no athlete's perfect.

before this season began, i blogged about what i expected and hoped to see from Michael in 2013. here is what i predicted:

-- first, i really hope this is the year that Michael plays a full season without injury. no more freak injuries in August or September that cause him to miss games or be shut down sooner than the year ends, please.

-- batting average wise, i would love to see him finish the year close to .300. i'd be very happy with a BA between .295-.300. yeah i'm probably aiming a little high but i have confidence that he can do it. he's been getting better and better every year, and i really think this could finally be attainable for him. with our new offseason additions, i don't know if he'll finish the year with the highest BA on the team again, but he should still be one of our top and most reliable hitters.

--i think he can hit at least 8 home runs. and despite those who want him to hit for more power, i think this is fine. he'll make up for it by hitting plenty of doubles.

--Michael should have another high RBI total batting in the middle of the order for the year. i'll predict/expect at least 75.

--stolen bases: 15

--runs scored: 60

--doubles: 50

--walks: 50

--fielding percentage: .998

so like last year, i was right about some things and i was wrong about some things.

--Michael finally did play a complete season without any injuries. although he did miss 3 games in September because his wife went into labor, he didn't need to be shut down or on any restrictions before the year ended.

--this is a good segue for a quick rant. if i was a baseball wife, and i understood the fan base's desperation for a good team to be repping their city, and i knew my husband was an important part of that, i would be smart about things and not allow myself to get pregnant at a time where i'd be giving birth during baseball season. i'm serious. i would take one for the team and not be selfish. i also definitely would not be leaving my husband and going to my hometown to have our baby. different strokes i suppose. good thing i'll never have this problem haha

--i didn't do so well with the batting average hopes. i aimed high because i believed he could do it. and had he not endured those couple slumps, maybe he would have finished more around .290. he worked very hard in September just to get to .284. that's not bad, but i still think he hasn't reached his full potential yet. and he did finish with the highest average on the team again, so that's awesome.

--Michael's 10 home runs surpassed my prediction of 8, thanks to the 2 multi-homer games he had. that was really good for him and i think 10 is a nice number to strive towards every year now.

--i was SO close with my 75 RBI prediction, as he tallied 73. maybe i would have been dead-on had he not missed those 3 games for the birth of his baby. grrr... lol

--i predicted 15 stolen bases and he stole 17 in 21 attempts. so i was close again there.

--i predicted 60 runs scored and he scored 66 runs. sometimes underestimating is a smart strategy haha

--i was very wrong regarding the doubles. i mentioned it a few times during the year that i wanted him to hit more doubles and he never really did. i don't think i'll be predicting 50 again next season lol

--i was also wrong about the walks. when you go through periods of not working the count, it's kind of hard to draw walks.

--his fielding percentage was perfect. though i would never predict him to play errorless ball for a full season, i certainly welcomed it. that's a difficult task to accomplish and i'm proud he did it.

i feel the need to touch on one more thing i said in my preseason blog, which was this:

i also want to throw in here that if Bourn doesn't turn out to be the amazing leadoff man that most people keep saying he is, after a month into the season, they better think about swapping him out, just as was done with my Michael after a month last season. #eyeroll #stillbitter #stupidManny lol

as if right on cue, Bourn did not turn out to be a very good leadoff man for our Tribe this season. and of course, there was no consideration of moving him despite his problems. i will dig more into Bourn's season in my Tribe wrap up blog, but as far as me being upset about Brantley not getting the chance to become the player that Bourn is, i feel silly for ever even worrying about that lol in some aspects, i DON'T want Brantley to be like Bourn. my Michael is going to do just fine, no matter which position in the OF he's at or how far down in the lineup he goes. the same cannot be said of certain other players, which makes Michael more valuable imo.

which leads me to the last topic that i want to cover. Michael is now eligible for arbitration, which means it's time to increase that paycheck, and i am very interested in seeing what kind of cash he's gonna rake in. his surge during that hitting streak towards the end of the season may have added some money to the conversation. there was concern on my end, and by a few sports writers as well, that because Michael was moved to left field, he would not get as much money as if he were still a center fielder. but the fact that he dominated out there has got to count for something. he was the only position player to play errorless defense this year. there is no better left fielder on this team or even in the farm system right now. when Michael's agents are negotiating his new contract, this point needs to be stressed. repeatedly. until the front office really gets it. they should go in asking for 3, and hope to come out of it at 2.5 million, with increases after 2014 of course. 2.5 i think is still low compared to what the rest of the (older) outfielders are making and considering the verity that Michael did better than all of them this year. but he's still young and somewhat unproven that he can keep up his good play, so he can't get too greedy at this point. he certainly can't go charging in demanding 10 million, although that would be so badass lol

overall, i'd say this was a successful season for Michael. he played a full healthy season, set records, and was perfect defensively. he did what was asked of him and then some. he never complained, made waves, or brought unnecessary attention to the ballclub. he was a true team player and i'm happy to get to witness him beginning a role as a team leader now as well.

the next step for Michael will be trying to figure out a way to maintain in all the categories that he did exceptionally well in this year. he's gotta continue to put up those high numbers while he's young, before he gets older and his performance starts to decline. i think this is a challenge for every professional athlete out there--not just to try and keep getting better and achieving new highs, but to sustain the highs for as long as you can once you've accomplished them. Michael's about to embark upon his peak years, so i don't anticipate a big reduction anywhere any time soon. and i feel so lucky that i'm able to watch this all unfold right before my eyes while he's a member of my Cleveland Indians. i've seen him grow from a rookie to a regular to a vital piece of the roster. i can't wait to find out what he's going to do next and what new records he might set in 2014 and beyond.

i took a step up this year in my Michael documentation. i kept extremely detailed game records in a notebook that is very well organized, if i do say so myself. in the future, after his career with the Tribe is over, i might try and send him my notebook(s) for him to look back on and be impressed by, but for right now, all these analyzations and break downs i did shall remain in my possession. being the #1 fan of a player requires unconditional support, and involves not only praising him when warranted, but also criticizing when criticisms are needed. i do all of that, and maybe some day he will discover it.

once again, i have to thank Michael for making this an enjoyable season to document. he continues to make me proud with all his achievements. i hope he has a fun, relaxing offseason with his family and new baby. he definitely deserves it. and i will see him next year on April 4.

for even more Brantley details, be sure to read my other blogs:

Brantley's 2013 Game-by-Game Numbers & Notes

Brantley's 2013 Batting Order Position & LF/CF/PH #s

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