tonight, on August 26, Michael Brantley set his first new career high in the 2015 season. he set SO many career highs last season that i knew it was going to be tough to set many (if any) this year. add that to the health issues he's been battling (his back strain and shoulder inflammation) and the games he had to miss because of them, and it really didn't look like he was going to be able to shatter his old records. but he finally has, and as luck would have it, he did it in a category that he did not set a record in last season--one of just a few, and i do mean few. so i guess that makes it somewhat appropriate that this would be his first new record set this year lol here are the details.
in his 1st plate appearance in the bottom of the 1st inning in a scoreless game versus the Milwaukee Brewers, Michael faced right-handed pitcher Jimmy Nelson. there was 1 out and
Francisco Lindor was at 1st base to start his PA. Michael fouled off the 1st pitch. then ball 1 was thrown in the dirt and as it was, Lindor stole 2nd base. (that ball actually hit home plate umpire Tim Welke and skipped away, but Lindor was not able to advance further.) Nelson threw 2 more balls outside to Michael before he fouled off the 5th pitch to run the count full. after that, Michael drew a walk when ball 4 was thrown. that gave Michael 53 total walks for this season, tying his previous career high in walks set back in 2012. but he was not content with merely tying that record tonight...
fast forward to the bottom of the 4th inning. it was Michael's 3rd plate appearance of the night, with 1 out, Lindor at 1st base, and the Indians leading, 4-1. Nelson threw Michael 2 balls to start, with Lindor stealing another base on the 2nd pitch. after a 3-0 count, Michael took a swing and fouled it off. the payoff pitch from Nelson was ball 4, prompting Michael to jog down to 1st base. that walk not only chased Nelson out of the game, but it also officially gave Michael a total of 54 walks so far this year. and with over a month of baseball still left to be played, i would bet that Michael adds on to this new record before 2015 is over. congratulations, Michael!
this is a noteworthy accomplishment because given Michael's now standard aggressive mental approach at the plate, you wouldn't necessarily think working the count and drawing walks was a priority for him anymore. so it's great to see that he is still patient enough to run the count full at times and get himself on base by walking.
additionally, Michael has 7 intentional walks to this point in the season, which is a true testament to how dangerous opposing pitchers/teams view him as. and i love that! but, obviously, that also helped Michael reach this career high and draw this many walks after only 126 games (of which Michael's played 113) in the 2015 season.
making this record stand out even more is that fact that Michael currently has just 42 strikeouts in 497 plate appearances (at the time of this blog). his walk to strikeout ratio, presently at 1.29, is outstanding for a baseball player in this day and age. you rarely see #s like these or this kind of plate discipline anymore. it's very impressive and continues to display Michael's very good eye at the plate. man is he an incredibly smart ballplayer or what? =D