|photo courtesy of @MLBNetwork on twitter|
with hosts Brian Kenny and Cliff Floyd, the Top 10 left field players currently in baseball going into the 2016 season were ranked by MLB Network's Shredder. an analytic methodology going by the name of The Shredder, who operates unbiased and without emotion, compiles rankings based on a player's recent performance and projections for the player's upcoming season. keep in mind that baseball analysts and fans disagree with The Shredder quite often, so this isn't a list to get too worked up about if you dislike the rankings. but it's fun to debate why The Shredder is right or wrong anyway.
before this particular Top 10 even aired, i had concerns about where Michael would place. i felt like
he could potentially be at a disadvantage because of the fact that 1. he played just 137 games in 2015 due to injuries and 2. we already know that Michael will be missing at least the first month of the 2016 campaign, if not longer, due to his offseason right shoulder surgery.
MLB Network's Top 10s include players from both the American League and National League, putting the competition in each category at an ultimate high. this is something that's burned Michael in the past as far as awards and rankings go. regardless of all my worries, however, i still believed Michael should fair at least as high as he did on last year's list.
finally, at about 55 minutes into the 10 o'clock hour, i learned that Michael was ranked as the BEST LEFT FIELDER in the game right now by The Shredder! congratulations, Michael! i'm very proud of you! you battled so hard last year and i'm amazed by everything you accomplished despite playing the entire season with injuries. you are a wonder, and you definitely deserve top billing at your position!!!
|screenshot cropped from a video on mlb.com|
here is The Shredder's complete Top 10 LF list:
1. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
2. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers
4. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
5. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
6. David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks
7. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins
8. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
9. Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies
10. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Brian Kenny and Cliff Floyd ranked Michael #5 and #3, respectively, on their own personal Top 10 lists. Bill James, Vince Gennaro, and Mike Petriello were also special guests on the show and revealed their Top 10 Left Fielders lists as well. Bill had Michael at #2, Vince had Michael at #1, and Mike had Michael at #8 thinking his shoulder injury would cause big regression. (GTFO with that lol)
in 2015, Michael was ranked the 3rd best left fielder in Major League Baseball. i thought it was insulting that he was listed behind Hanley Ramirez and Jayson Werth; turns out, i was right. yet it shows how far he's come because in 2014, Michael didn't even make the Top 10 list.
let me re-state Michael's case by comparing his 2015 numbers with the other qualifying left fielders around the league. he was
--1st with 45 doubles and .379 OBP
--2nd with 60 XBH, 84 RBI, 8 IBB, .310 BA, and 3.8 fWAR
--3rd with 60 walks (career high), 254 TB, .480 SLG, and .859 OPS
--tied for 4th with 5 sac flies
--5th with 164 hits
--tied for 5th with 104 singles
--7th with 596 plate appearances
--tied for 7th with 7 outfield assists
--8th with 15 stolen bases and 529 at bats
--9th with 68 runs
he also had the least amount of strikeouts, finishing 15th of 15 total qualifiers, with 51 (career low) and an 8.6% K rate.
so yeah, Michael's definitely one of the best left fielders in the game right now. and all those numbers become even more impressive when you factor in that he played with not only a lower back strain from Day 1 of spring training, but also inflammation in both of his shoulders toward the end of the year. in that regard, his performance was practically unparalleled. he never complained about being hurt, busted his ass to stay on the field as much as he could, and learned how to play in spite of being at less than 100% health. guy's a stud. congrats, again!
what do you think about this Top 10 list? do you agree with The Shredder and me regarding Michael's placement? let me know in the comments below!
next month MLB Network will be revealing their Top 100 Players Right Now, and i can't wait to see where Michael ranks in that group!
one more thing. Michael has been in Cleveland, Ohio rehabbing for most of the month of January according to President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti. that gave him the perfect opportunity to attend the 16th Annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards at the Renaissance Hotel earlier this evening. he, along with Jason Kipnis, presented the Amateur Athlete of the Year Award. when asked about how he was doing, Michael said he's been in Cleveland for most of the offseason, training and working hard. he added that he's doing great, feels great, and will be back as soon as possible. he told Jordan Bastian that his goal is to be back by Opening Day, but knows that might not be realistic.
|screenshot cropped from a live stream of the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards|
Michael was also a finalist for the Professional Athlete of the Year Award for his performance in 2015, but unfortunately lost out to LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (who was a no-show). such a shame. Gary Barnidge of the Cleveland Browns was the other finalist for this award. of his nomination, Michael said, "you work very hard in the offseason, you prepare each and every day and you just play your best, and to be recognized for it is a blessing and it doesn't go unnoticed."
don't forget, Michael will be at Tribe Fest this Saturday with a plethora of his teammates. more info about that can be found here. if i gather enough news/updates about/from Michael on Saturday, i will put together another blog for you with all the details.
and, if you aren't already, be sure to follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 for any Michael news i come across, and subscribe to my email list on the right side of this blog to get email notifications whenever i post something new.