Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Brantley Ranked 74th in MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now

spring training games are set to start in just over a week, which is a little earlier than usual this year due to the World Baseball Classic. so for some of us, Indians fans especially, this baseball offseason flew by very quickly. but before the games get underway, it's time for MLB Network to reveal their annual list of "Top 100 Players Right Now." Greg Amsinger, Bill Ripken, and Ron Darling once again hosted the three-day countdown of the Top 100 Players currently in Major League Baseball going into the 2017 season. the list was unveiled from February 15-17 in five one-hour installments featuring 20 players per show. tonight, on February 15, the second part of the series aired at 10 pm ET.

photo courtesy of @MLBNetwork on twitter

MLBN's Top 100 list is assembled by their research staff and based on
player performances over the past three seasons (2014-2016), with the biggest focus being on the most recent, as well as projected player performances for this upcoming year. supplementary components, including defensive position, individual accolades, and the intangibles that a player brings to the game (ie. team leadership), are also used to compile these rankings.

around 10:15 pm, the show announced Michael Brantley was ranked the 74th best player in Major League Baseball right now. considering his 2016 report card was virtually empty thanks to numerous setbacks and continual pain in the follow-through of his swing because of chronic right biceps tendinitis, i'll take that. truthfully, i anticipated Michael would be on this specific episode and fall somewhere between the #80-61 portion of the countdown. though i was hoping he'd be in the 60s, i can't say this was a total shock. no one, not even myself, could justifiably rate Michael any better than this on account of last year's circumstances.

photo courtesy of @MLBNetwork on twitter

the 2016 season was an extremely unfortunate one for Michael to have been plagued with shoulder and biceps issues because his 2014 and 2015 seasons were so good. in 2014, Michael got his first All Star nod, set career highs in nearly every category, and made Indians history. then in 2015, he dealt with a lower back strain in the beginning and the torn labrum at the end, yet he still managed to put up great stats and bat .310 overall. so had Michael had another solid campaign in 2016, he would have possessed an undeniably strong set of numbers on his 2014-2016 seasons resume and could have possibly ranked in the Top 20 on this list based on that criteria. however, since Michael's 2016 was practically non-existent, and that's the season they placed the most emphasis on when creating this Top 100, i really have no valid arguments to put him anywhere else other than at 74.

Ripken and Darling, on the other hand, did not appreciate Michael being on this list and ranked where he was, particularly in front of a few of his teammates. (oh, but Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber at #72 after his 2016 season is okay? really?😒) despite their uncertainty, when Michael's not dealing with injuries and actually plays, he is superior to a large chunk of the players that were ranked ahead of him on this list. and that's been proven in 2014 and 2015.

to compare, here are Michael's ranks from MLB Network's last three lists:
going into 2016, Michael ranked 31st.
going into 2015, Michael ranked 21st (in his Top 100 debut).
going into 2014, Michael did not rank on the Top 100.

obviously, he had no chance to beat either of his previous two rankings. but that doesn't mean he can't crack the Top 20 in a year from now.😉

like i said when Michael was ranked 5th in MLB Network's Top 10 LF in January, i can't be mad at this ranking because he's lucky he even made it on here at all. the saving grace that got him on this list was his 2017 projections. (phew!) Michael's forecasted future statistics were gauged with the presumption that he will come back healthy and return to his 2014-15 ways. i, too, share in that belief and i'm happy to see that his reputation preceded any post-surgery concerns that the analysts may have had.

Terry Francona recently spoke about Michael's rehab from biceps tenodesis (surgery) on August 15, 2016, making it clear that they want to take things slow with him and, therefore, he will not be ready to play in spring games for a while. (source: Jordan Bastian.) after a four- to five-month recovery prognosis, Michael is presently in the hitting off a tee phase of his program. with Cactus League games set to commence on February 25, and Michael still needing to progress to soft toss and then batting practice, it's up in the air as to how much preseason game action he will partake in. being cautious is smart, but it is discouraging that he's not going to be able to go at the same pace as his teammates this spring.

it's also unknown at this time whether or not he'll be able to open the regular season with the Indians or wind up on the DL. understandably, all of the above has some fans fearing Michael won't be a factor with the ballclub for a second straight season. but while some people are skeptical, i have faith that the relocation of his biceps tendon will alleviate his discomfort and, once he finishes his rehabilitation, he'll reestablish himself as the consistent hitter that he showed he was prior to his surgeries. and nothing right now indicates otherwise!😛

Michael's status aside, there are high expectations for this Indians team in 2017, so it shouldn't be any wonder that several other Tribesmen made the Top 100 list:

93. Carlos Santana (not ranked in 2016, #72 in 2015, #77 in 2014)
76. Jason Kipnis (#52 in 2016, not ranked in 2015, #70 in 2014)
75. Carlos Carrasco (#74 in 2016)
38. Andrew Miller (#97 in 2016)
26. Edwin Encarnacion (#47 in 2016, #49 in 2015, #39 in 2014, #39 in 2013)
25. Corey Kluber (#30 in 2016, #15 in 2015)
19. Francisco Lindor (#42 in 2016)

moreover, Cody Allen was noted as having just missed the list.😞

congratulations to Michael and the rest of the Indians in this year's Top 100! now let's get to work and win the World Series!

the complete list of MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now can be found here.

as always, given that all different types of players are eligible for the Top 100--pitchers and position players from both the American League and National League--this is a tremendously subjective list. there's such an enormous amount of talent to go through and figure out how to rank, that no two people typically agree on one arrangement. as a result, criticism and spirited debates are basically guaranteed to ensue.

so let me hear it! what are your thoughts about this Top 100? think they wrongly left out an Indians player or another player in the league? and what about the placement? was a certain player ranked too high or too low? leave your comments below!

reminder: Baseball Tonight's Top 100 will be released sometime in March, and their list is usually quite the contrast from MLB Network's. i can't wait to see where all the Indians are on that. prediction: Michael doesn't rank anywhere.

Tribe position players officially report to camp tomorrow, so there should be a lot more updates on Michael's hitting progressions coming soon and coming more often now that the media will be watching him daily. and i will be tweeting everything i find out, so make sure you're following me @clevelandgirl23 to stay up to date on the latest news!

in case you missed it, here is the previous blog i posted with Michael's offseason rehab updates:
Brantley's January 2017 Hitting Progressions + Other News & Pics

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