Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brantley's April 2017 #s

hey there, Brantley fans! guess what? Michael played a full month in the regular season and had no physical health issues! when was the last time i could claim that, right? his rehab was such a lengthy process, and i want to thank each and every one of you who followed his journey back to the majors along with me by reading all my blogs about his post-surgery progressions. (and in case you missed the two previous posts containing Michael's Cactus League Rehab information, i will link those HERE and HERE.)

that's all in the past now, fortunately, as Dr. Smooth seems to be rapidly returning to his normal self. and that means i am back in business re: writing a standard monthly blog. it's been a loooooong time since i've been able to do so and you have no idea how happy i am about it. but because it's been a while, i want to provide an outline of what you can expect to find in my monthly compositions. whether you're new to my blog or already familiar with it, this should be helpful in navigating your way around and trying to find the topics that you're most interested in reading.

to keep everything clear and separated, i divide my blogs into sections. this season, i've decided to switch around the order of my presentation a bit, but each month will typically include:
--a monthly overview
--health updates (if applicable)
--batting order position information/changes
--areas of concern
--team batting winner
(and/or Michael's monthly BA rank)
--team leads and career highs
--HR:RBI ratio, LOB, K Rate, and Outs
--streaks and situational statistics (ie. # of games hit in/reached base in, RHP/LHP splits, home/away splits, RISP info, runners on/bases loaded/bases empty stats, multi-hit games, multi-RBI games, go-ahead hits and RBI, etc.)
--#s versus AL Central Division teams
--interleague play #s
--league rankings
--standout games, spotlights, and quotes (quotes from Michael are always italicized)
--in Indians history (if applicable)
--in the field
--breakdowns of Michael's #s (monthly, BOPs, OF/DH/PH)
--game-by-game numbers and notes

aside from the above talking points, this blog additionally features an Opening Day section because it was such a special occasion for Michael.

this format will continue throughout the rest of the year. however, once the month of May has concluded, you will be getting two blogs from me at the end of every month. the first will be like this one, consisting of Michael's stats for the most recent month only. the second will be a blog encompassing Michael's cumulative season #s for 2017 so far (ie. April + May #s, then April + May + June #s, etc). this has confused people in the past but i assure you, the blogs contain TWO totally different sets of numbers and once you read through them both, it will make sense.

and as always, i encourage my readers to leave comments and reactions on my blogs. the sole requirement is that you please respect everyone's opinion, even if you disagree. i don't tolerate hate and will not approve hurtful retorts. also, let me quickly say hello to the newest viewer who recently discovered my blog this month from the country of Argentina! welcome!

okay, now that i've explained everything, let's get into my first Brantley blog of the 2017 regular season!


April Overview

some people didn't think Michael would ever return to baseball. he was the next Grady Sizemore, they said... those people OBVIOUSLY don't read my blogs. #shameonthem #iknewitallalong😁

after all his rehab, Michael was deemed ready to start the season on time with the Tribe. but there was one small stipulation. going into this new year, the Indians publicly announced that Michael would be given extra days off in April in an effort to keep him healthy all season. even with that being the case, he played a pretty full month, sitting out just four of the team's 24 total games. (fact: Michael played 20 games in his previous two Aprils combined--15 games in 2015 and five in 2016. so he's certainly trending in the right direction now.) i anticipated he would essentially be using April as an extended spring while searching for his timing at the plate, but Michael didn't look to be as rusty as i presumed.

if you split his April in half, it's easy to see there was a notable yet acceptable grace period when he began playing. he went 10-for-37 at the plate (.270 BA) in his first 10 games, and 14-for-41 (.341 BA) in his last 10 games. still, Michael ended April with an excellent .308 batting average and has already garnered some highlights in the record books for his year, including hitting a walk-off double in the Tribe's Home Opener. he also strung together a 10-game hitting streak this month. by and large, it was a very successful month and return for Michael. now let me break it down for you, series-by-series.

Michael and the Indians kicked off their season on the road. Dr. Smooth appeared in all three games against the Texas Rangers, though he only started the first two and came in late as a pinch hitter in the finale. he finished his first series of the year going 3-for-11. then after an off day, the team was back out in Arizona for three games against the Diamondbacks. Michael played the first two games before getting the last one off. interleague play has never been his strong suit and this was no different--he went hitless in one game and got one hit in the other, going a measly 1-for-6 combined. being just 4-for-17 at the plate overall on the road trip was not great, but that performance was partially salvaged by his three RBI. the argument that Michael was continuing to find himself after missing nearly all of last year was valid enough, in my mind anyway, to excuse his difficulties this early on.

following another day off in the second week of April, the Indians came home to play three games versus the Chicago White Sox and then three more versus the Detroit Tigers. Michael played five of the six, sitting out the first Tigers game. when facing the ChiSox, he hit a walk-off double to the delight of the Indians and their fans at the Home Opener. for the series, he was 3-for-12 with three extra base hits, including his first home run of 2017, and three more RBI. add that to his 3-for-8 showing versus Detroit and he concluded his homestand going 6-for-20. clearly, he was improving.

the team next embarked on what should have been a 7-game road trip. they originally had four games scheduled against the Minnesota Twins and three against the White Sox, but the third game against the Twins was postponed due to rain. that benefited Michael substantially because it gave him the chance to play in that entire shortened series without getting a day off to rest. he went 4-for-12 with two extra base hits, three RBI, and four runs against Minny. while in Chicago, he did receive a day off and only played in the first two games, when he went 4-for-9. this was a much better trip for Michael (8-for-21) compared to his first week of the month and it became evident that he was really hitting his stride once again.

the Indians wrapped up April with a 6-game homestand that included three games versus the Houston Astros and three versus the Seattle Mariners. Michael did decent in the tough 'Stros series, going 3-for-12 (.250) in three games with a double, home run, and four RBI. unfortunately, he was rendered hitless in the third contest, putting an end to his admirable 10-game hitting streak. in the final home series, Michael was given the first game off and played in the last two. and he was challenged with the task of facing two starters that he'd never hit against before. but he did well, going 3-for-8 at the plate with a home run and two RBI. overall, he finished 6-for-20 at home and closed out April batting .308 (24-for-78).

not much was made of Michael's return or production this month until he began to build up that nice 10-game hitting streak in the final week of April. (major eye roll) considering he made a comeback after a year and a half of shoulder/biceps issues, everyone should have been talking about him long before then.

what he did was actually quite impressive and nothing short of incredible. not every player could miss as much time as he did and then do this well upon their immediate return. hell, not many players who weren't coming back from major surgery put up these kinds of numbers in their first month this season. so i definitely think Michael deserves credit and i'm gonna make sure he gets that. maybe fans somewhat take him for granted because he was a phenomenal player prior to his injury woes and this is what he's always been known to do. but what he's done so far (and to do it so fast) was not at all guaranteed, so to virtually "pick up" right where he left off in 2015 warrants recognition and praise.

how do you think Michael performed this month? leave me a comment below!

and may i remind you, the best way to reward Michael would be to vote for him to go to the 2017 All Star Game this July 11! voting starts tomorrow--look for a new blog on how to vote and how you can vote more than the "allotted" amount!😉


Happy Opening Day

i had to write a special section focusing on this year's Opening Day game and its significance for Michael. when the Indians began their 2017 season, everyone was excited, but no one more than Michael and possibly manager Terry Francona. in his media session before the game, Tito talked about being able to write Michael's name in the lineup. from Jordan Bastian's blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, the skipper expressed, "what's even more exciting is this isn't the end. this is the beginning, and because of a lot of hard work. i even looked at some of his quotes, which i thought were really good. he was kind of thanking the medical people for being so conscientious. but, it always comes back to the player. and with him, it's easy. he's been a star. he had to be a star in the training room, so he was. he made so many sacrifices to get himself in this position. it's nice when you write him in your lineup. it's nice to have him on your side."

of course, Michael spoke with the media before the game as well. from a video on the cleveland.com youtube channel, he started by proclaiming, "it's a great opportunity to be with this team and how hard they worked last year and how we're gonna do it again this year and just continue to compete and you know, go out there and have fun."

in-game reporter for SportsTime Ohio, Andre Knott, remarked how Michael didn't say [Opening Day was his target], but then inquired if it was a goal for him to be out there or did he just push through? "i did not. i did not set any expectations and any goals. i just knew i wanted to challenge myself every day in whatever that challenge was gonna be. it's a great job by my trainers, the doctors, and everybody just to get me to this point and i'm gonna try to enjoy it as much as i can."

Bastian next asked Michael what were his thoughts on this lineup. "it's a great lineup all the way through. we have great bench guys that are gonna contribute all year. it's a deep lineup which is always great but at the same time we gotta go out there, keep the line moving, not try to do too much and just kinda pass the torch."

"i love playing this game, i enjoy playing this game," Michael said in another pregame video on FOX Sports Ohio's youtube channel. "i don't take it for granted. my family loved watching me play, my daughter talks about it all the time so... just being back out there for them and being with this group of guys that, you know, have been so inspirational in helping me get back to this level and, you know keeping me, positive encouragement and seeing how hard i worked just to be out here with them again, it's special."

Michael addressed his family further in Ryan Lewis' twitter photo, beginning with his father, Mickey. "it's a great support system. he's always been in my corner from day one. he built my swing. i rely on him heavily. we talk almost every day about the day before, what he saw. and i can't thank him enough for me being here in this situation. without him, i don't know if it was possible and i appreciate everything he's ever done for me.

"that support system i have from my wife, from my kids, from all my family. i wouldn't be there without them. it was tough times. anytime you have a lengthy rehab and a couple setbacks and a lot of things don't go your way, but at the same time when you have a support system like i do around me, they pushed me through it, especially on the dark days, they put some light into it and i appreciate it very much."

Paul Hoynes' cleveland.com article also revealed that, at Tito's request, Michael took a minute to reflect on getting back to the majors. "i did that a little bit this morning. i woke up, i smiled and i ate a nice breakfast. i thought about it a little bit. i'm going to try and enjoy it as much as i can. it's been a long time and a lot of hard work paid off. i'm just appreciative and thankful."


Expected April Days Off

Michael was not in the starting lineup for the Tribe's third game of the season on April 5 because he was getting a normal day off. Jordan Bastian tweeted that Terry Francona made it clear that Michael was fine and available off the bench, he just wanted to work in some days off when it made sense in April and keep the big picture in mind.

Bastian's blog on bastian.mlblogs.com contained Tito's full explanation. "i don't know about scheduled. we've been checking with him every night and i told them that we're probably going to do that for a while. one, he feels great. i think we're just trying to look at the big picture, and i think he used a lot of good judgment. i know he was dying to play, because he feels good, but i don't think any of us want to lose sight of the fact that he's had a long haul back. and, once you bite off too much, you can't go back. so, i think this approach is good. this way, he hasn't played too much. he'll be available off the bench, and then we've got the day off tomorrow. and i think we'll probably do this the first month, just check with him every night. again, having him two out of three, or three out of four healthy, is a heck of a lot better than not having him."

will Francona pair Michael's days off with team off-days? "not necessarily. i think when it makes sense. there will be times where, if it's a day game after a night game and a lefty pitching, that makes some sense. things like that. but, we'll see. he's such a good player and he hits lefties and righties. we'll just try to use good judgment. that's probably the best way i can put it."

for the record, Michael did wind up in the game in the top of the 8th inning to pinch hit, just like Francona suggested he might.

it was a different story, however, when Michael was not in the starting lineup on April 14. even after the Indians closed the gap in their game versus the Detroit Tigers, Tito knew Michael was not going to get a pinch hit opportunity. per Bastian's indians.com article, the manager decided prior to the game that Michael would not be available off the bench for this particular game so that he could get a full scheduled day off. Francona relayed that he consults with Michael and the medical team in order to determine if he will be available off the bench. "we talk about it before the game," he disclosed on April 15. "you've probably heard me say it a lot of times: you try to manage using common sense, and it's hard to have common sense in the midst of the game when you're in the eighth or the ninth. that's why we always talk about it before the game. and last night, we were going to stay away.

"he's feeling real good. i just want to make sure he feels real good the whole time. and his communication has been outstanding. Michael would run through the wall if you'd ask him to, or he'd try to. we're trying to be in this together and make it work."

Michael would play every game if he could, though he appreciates the thought and care that Francona has put into his situation. "i'm always lobbying to play. if i'm healthy enough to play, i want to be out there with my teammates. at the same time, if i'm in the lineup, i'll play. when i'm not, if i'm down, i've got to listen to the trainers, the manager and the doctors and i do what they say. hopefully, it won't last forever. that's the whole goal. as of right now, i'm listening to what they're having to say. we'll get through it. we'll get past it."

Paul Hoynes had more in his article on cleveland.com. "every time i looked at the matchups, he's the one that's got the best numbers," Tito admitted. "but i just told myself before the game i'm not going to do it. that's where you can really make mistakes and i'd rather not do that.

"we made the decision to stay away from Brantley. now he may (have) pinch run or something like that. the Tigers didn't know he wasn't playing, you could tell by the lefties they kept bringing in (because) they didn't want to face him. there will be games when he is available (as a pinch hitter). we're just trying to use good common sense based on what he's gone through. when we get deeper into the season, i think we'll be glad that he's still playing and productive."

Bastian posted another blog before the game on April 25 that included Francona's thoughts on how Michael has responded to his playing time. from bastians.mlblogs.com, Tito commented, "i think he's responding really well because he's worked hard and he's in great shape and he's done a terrific job. i don't think it's the way we've done it. i think we've just tried to use some common sense with him and i think he deserves a ton of credit for putting himself in a position where he can play as much as he is."

on April 28, Michael received his fourth game of the month off. in an article by Zack Meisel on cleveland.com, the skipper informed he was "just trying to be cognizant of him growing into playing more. it's not that he can't hit a lefty... but i think our team is better situated if he sits against a lefty. and he understands that." i took that to mean Tito would simply prefer Brandon Guyer's right-handed bat in the lineup in Michael's place sometimes when a southpaw starts for the opposition.

"i don't want him to not play, because he's really good," Francona continued, "but i want to do the right thing in the long haul. he's been through so much that he's understanding that even though he'd like to be in there every single inning, every single day, at some point, he will be."


Rallying Around Michael's BOP

Michael began the 2017 season batting 3rd in the lineup with Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor hitting ahead of him. that may not have been the case if Jason Kipnis had opened the year with the Indians instead of on the 10-Day DL while recovering from his strained right rotator cuff, but i sure was happy that's how the order played out because i very much like Michael in the 3 hole.

(flashback: if you recall, in 2016, Michael was going to be the Indians' cleanup hitter had he been able to successfully return from his November 2015 labral tear surgery. in nine of his 11 games, he bat 4th with Mike Napoli hitting behind him. only after Michael suffered his setbacks and was placed on the DL did Nap become the team's official cleanup man for the year. personally, while i was in favor of Napoli batting behind Michael, i wasn't a fan of Michael batting 4th.)

when Michael did not have a scheduled day off, the Top 3 remained the same. but Terry Francona publicized that, prior to Kipnis' return to the Indians, he would go right to Michael and Kip for their thoughts on where they should bat in the lineup. from Jordan Bastian's April 8 blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, Tito specified, "i told both of them i'd sit and talk to them, because they both will have good thoughtful ideas, and i want to hear them."

after Kipnis was activated from the DL on April 21, the order surprisingly didn't change. however, Francona exposed that the lineup could be altered later on because he really didn't want Kip batting 6th. and unlike what the skipper proposed earlier in the month, he never had a conversation with Michael, only Kipnis, and Kip was very agreeable to not disrupting the Top 3. via another Bastian blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, Tito notified there could be one lineup against right-handed pitchers and another for left-handed pitchers. he also mentioned that they're "kind of keeping an eye on Brantley." my interpretation of that was maybe Michael would be moved down in the order if he ever went a while without producing for the Tribe and perhaps needed to have some "pressure" taken off him.

whatever Tito's plan was, he never executed it in the month of April because Michael did bat 3rd in every game he played. do i think that will be his home for the rest of the year? no. i'm not new around here. Francona is not going to allow Kipnis to bat 6th all season, especially if he begins to get hot in May, which he's been known to do in the past. i'm sure the Top 5 will see a shakeup coming at some point, and when that happens, you can be sure i will have something to say about it.

Andre Knott, in-game reporter for SportsTime Ohio, posed a question to Lindor about having Michael batting behind him in the order after the Indians beat the Minnesota Twins on April 18. from a youtube video on FOX Sports Ohio's channel, Frankie answered it's made it "a lot easier. it calms me down a lot watching Brantley and talking to him, and picking his brain to see what he's gonna do with different pitchers. and i learn from him. i watch him every time and i like that he's behind me. and hopefully he can stay healthy and continue to do his thing cause he's one of the best hitters in the league."

and after the game on April 22 against the Chicago White Sox, Edwin Encarnacion asserted it was "great" to hit behind Michael in the lineup, according to this SportsTime Ohio twitter video.

Lindor was asked about Michael batting behind him again in a postgame interview following the contest versus the Houston Astros on April 26. in a video on FOX Sports Ohio's youtube channel, Frankie maintained, "watching him, i get better. having him behind me, i get better. when i'm on base, i'm watching him, i'm watching the way he works, the way he's working the counts. and when i get out, i watch him to see what they're doing to him, see how he's going about it, and i go try to put it in my game."

want my advice? don't fix what ain't broken, Tito!

when Michael played and bat 3rd, Encarnacion always hit behind him in the order and Jose Ramirez was protecting EE batting 5th. the 6th spot was shared between the likes of Yandy Diaz (before he was optioned to Triple A Columbus), Lonnie Chisenhall (once he came off the DL), and later Kipnis (once he came off the DL). the bottom third of the order was ever-revolving. but really, if Michael gets himself on base, it's mainly gonna be the responsibilities of Encarnacion and Ramirez to bring him home.

in April, Michael reached base a total of 31 times via hits, walks, and hit by pitches. he scored 13 runs when the month concluded, five of which came from his own home runs. so he was driven in by others 8 times and was left stranded 18 times. i'd like to see the latter decrease as the year goes on. as for his succeeding batting mates, EE drove him in two times on his home runs, and Ramirez drove Michael home four times total this month.

what would be your ideal Indians starting lineup? would you have two different ones depending on if a right-handed or left-handed pitcher was scheduled to start? tell me in the comment section!


Areas Of Concern

after everything Michael has been through, filling up this section right now would be unintelligent. honestly, there are only two things i can criticize. let me start with his strikeouts. he has struck out 18 times in 20 games. at one point, he had at least one strikeout in seven straight games, and he struck out at least once in 10 of his first 11 games played. in addition, he had three games in April where he struck out twice. that is not typical Michael Brantley.

he knows he needs more reps at the plate to cut down on whiffs, so i'm not overly concerned or worried that he won't be able to turn things around. yes, it does suck that while he is working his way back to his amazing contact rate, his career numbers are taking a hit. but there's a reason for it and i hope the fans will go easy on him in the meantime. you can see a slight improvement though when separating his April games into two portions: he had 11 Ks in his first 10 games, yet 7 Ks in his second 10 games. #babysteps (this topic will be covered more further down in the HR:RBI Ratio, LOB, K Rate, and Outs section of the blog.)

my other concern is his 2-out hitting. this has been an off and on problem for Michael in the past. for whatever reason, as good a hitter as he is, when he comes to bat with 2 outs, he sometimes struggles. that's true again for this month. although, being conscious of the fact that he was/is still getting back to playing on a regular basis, i can't be too hard on him about it. i'm willing to wait and see if things improve next month before any panic sets in of him potentially being an inning-ender.


April Team Batting Winner

i truthfully did not expect Michael to get in on this in April. i figured he would need to use a portion of the month to find his timing at the plate, and so his batting average wouldn't necessarily be what i would envision it to be had he not been making a comeback from surgery. not so.

the player who had the highest April batting average out of all the qualifying players on the team was Jose Ramirez. he bat an exceptional .330 this month.

happily, Michael acquired enough plate appearances to be considered a qualifier for the month of April. the prerequisite to qualify is 3.1 plate appearances per game (or 502 PA by the end of the year). right now, at the conclusion of April, Michael currently has 3.54 PA per game.

therefore, his .308 BA does officially rank and he's in 3rd place on the team (right behind Francisco Lindor's .309 average). he had gotten himself within two points of Ramirez after the April 26 game, but then Michael's 10-game hitting streak ended on an 0-for-4 performance and that resulted in a deeper separation as Ramirez finished the month swinging a hotter stick than Michael.

be that as it may, i fully believe Michael has not reached his full potential at the plate again yet. as the year continues, i think he could get into the middle of this race and maybe win it come October 1. that's a long ways away though, so we shall see.


Team Leads & Career Highs

because he did miss so much time and hasn't played consistently since 2015, it might be surprising to find that Michael has many stats that rank near the top of the Indians leaderboard.

in April, Michael led the team with 3 stolen bases.

screenshot cropped from indians.com

he led the outfielders with 38 putouts, 169.0 innings, and 20 games.

he was 2nd on the team with 1 intentional walk. he was tied for 2nd with 17 RBI and 18 strikeouts*, and tied for 2nd with 1 assist among all outfielders.

in addition, he was 3rd with 24 hits, 5 home runs, 43 total bases, .308 batting average, .365 OBP, .551 SLG, and .916 OPS. lastly, he was tied for 3rd with 13 runs.

after perusing through my personal record books of Michael's stats, i found that he set career highs for himself in April with: 5 home runs, 18 strikeouts*, 43 total bases, .551 SLG, and .916 OPS.

furthermore, Michael had a .308 batting average in April. now that's not the highest BA he's ever put together in an April, as he bat .339 in 2015. BUT, he had not played enough to be a qualifier then, so really, you can include Michael's BA as a career high this month as well.

*one category that a player should never strive to set a team high or career high in is strikeouts. when looking at a stat such as that, you want a player to have a "career low" because it's not a good thing to have a lot of strikeouts. but i felt a need to identify that Michael had a career high 18 strikeouts in April. prior to this year, he had never acquired more than 14 Ks in a month of April before in his Major League career.


HR:RBI Ratio, LOB, K Rate, and Outs

Michael hit 5 home runs in April. did anyone predict that before the season started? extremely positive sign, if you ask me. Michael has never hit five homers in his first 20 games before. the soonest he hit home run #5 in a previous year was Game #28 in 2014. i did argue in my Cactus League blog that Michael could potentially have more power now since he'd been conditioning hardcore over the past two years while recovering from multiple shoulder surgeries, and that may be coming to fruition. i'm very interested to see what his HR output looks like as 2017 continues and the weather gets warmer. btw, Francisco Lindor leads the team with seven home runs and Edwin Encarnacion only has four!😲

in April, Michael totaled 17 RBI versus leaving 30 men on base. that seems like a lot of guys to strand, but i can't be too upset because he did still drive in a good amount of runners. the team leader in RBI right now is Jose Ramirez with 21. i think once Michael plays more, those ribbies will keep adding up and he and Hosey will be battling it out in this category as well.

time for the April HR:RBI ratio. three of Michael's 5 home runs were solo and the other two were 2-run bombs. therefore, 17.6% of his 17 RBI in April came from his solo homers, while 41.2% of his 17 RBI came from all 5 of his home runs. so not quite half of his RBI this month were achieved via the long ball. that's not an ordinary occurrence for Michael and we'll see if he keeps that up going forward.

Michael's K rate in April was 21.2% (18 K/85 PA). he's presently striking out once every 4.7 plate appearances. yikes.

as i documented above, he had at least one strikeout in 10 of his first 11 games, striking out at least once in seven straight from April 8-17. during the last couple games in April, he was beginning to make more contact, so maybe that will carry on into next month and he'll have a lower K rate.

i knew in spring that Michael was going to have a higher strikeout rate this year just because he needs to get back into the swing of things, literally. he has always been a high contact hitter, so i don't fear that he's regressed to a point where he can't get back to being the hitter that he's always been. but i admit, it is a shame that his career numbers will be distorted to some degree while he's still attempting to get out of his rusty, swing-and-miss mode.

following the game on April 26, Michael had already acquired 17 strikeouts in 66 at bats. Jordan Bastian was the first Tribe writer to finally put on record that Michael's strikeouts, specifically of the swinging variety, were abnormally high. in his Covering the Bases blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, he incorporated how Michael was missing pitches outside the strike zone (known as O-contact percentage) at a higher rate. that's why his swinging strike rate had doubled in comparison to the average of his previous three full seasons. it also accounted for the increase in his K rate and decrease in overall contact.

you can see all of that and more in this chart, where JB weighed Michael's first 17 games of 2017 against the averages from his 2013-2015 seasons:

photo courtesy of Jordan Bastian via bastian.mlblogs.com

manager Terry Francona cited his opinion on the matter in Bastian's pregame April 27 blog on bastian.mlblogs.com. "i think it's a small sample size, too. i think that first 100 at-bats there's a lot of things. ...i think Brant looks really good. i think he's really smart and i think he's healthy. i think that first 100 at-bats for anybody, there's going to be some abnormalities. but with him, it would be almost hard to imagine nothing being different. he missed a lot of time."

strikeouts aside, Michael's other outs* came from 21 groundouts, 7 flyouts, 6 lineouts, and 2 pop outs. this is usually the part where i comment how he's still getting most of his outs by making contact with the ball, and he is, but it's just not the same right now. if i'm nitpicking, his groundouts are a little on the high side thus far and he's not getting many balls up in the air. it's also a bit irregular that he hasn't hit into more "hard" outs, aka lineouts. but that could come with more playing time and more at bats.

*again, i want to point out that the stats section of indians.com differs from my own personal stats. i write down every single plate appearance of Michael's in every game he plays, whether he gets credited with a hit, walk, hit by pitch, reached on an error, groundout, flyout, lineout, pop out, or strikeout. and yet somehow, my groundout and flyout counts never equal what the team website has. i don't understand it, but i know my counts are accurate, so take it for what you will.


Streaks & Situational Statistics

Michael had a hit in 16 of the 20 games he played in April and reached base safely in 17 games. he had 4 hitless games, but still reached base in 1 of them. Michael had 8 multi-hit games, no three+ hit games, and 4 multi-RBI games. he had at least one RBI in 12 games. he also had 3 go-ahead hits and 4 go-ahead RBI this month. the Indians were 14-6 in games that Michael played in and 0-4 in the games he sat out.

in addition, Michael had a 10-game hitting streak that spanned between April 13-27. during his streak, he bat .381 (16-for-42) with 16 hits, 7 for extra bases, and 31 total bases. he had 9 singles, 3 doubles, 4 home runs, 10 RBI, 11 runs, 3 walks, 1 hit by pitch, 2 stolen bases (1 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd), 1 caught stealing (2nd), 2 GIDP, 10 strikeouts (9 swinging, 1 looking), and 5 first at bat hits while leaving 15 men on base in 46 plate appearances and 42 at bats. his OBP was .435 and his SLG was .738, giving him a 1.173 OPS. defensively, Michael also played 89 innings in left field and recorded 22 putouts and 1 assist in 9 complete games. (he was subbed out defensively after 8 innings in 1 game following getting hit in the right shin.)

Michael obviously had a 10-game on-base streak between April 13-27 as well.

he also has an active 6-game hitting streak on the road that began on April 8, then reconvened from April 17-22. besides that, Michael has an active 7-game on-base streak on the road, which commenced on April 7. the Indians open May away from home, so we'll quickly see if he can add on to these streaks.

in April, Michael bat .315 (17-for-54) against right-handed pitchers and .292 (7-for-24) against left-handed pitchers. this looks fairly normal to me, as he always seems to hit both types of pitchers without much differentiation.

Michael bat .300 (12-for-40) with 9 RBI in 10 of 12 games at home. he hit safely in 8 of the 10 home games he played in and safely got on base in 8 of them. he had 2 hitless games at home and did not reach base in them.

Michael bat .316 (12-for-38) with 8 RBI in 10 of 12 games away from Progressive Field. he hit safely in 8 of the 10 road games he played in and safely reached base in 9 of them. he was hitless in 2 road games, but still reached base in 1.

Michael hit .318 (7-for-22) with runners in scoring position, producing 13 RBI in April. breaking that down, he hit .400 (2-for-5) with RISP and 0 outs, .250 (2-for-8) with RISP and 1 out, and .333 (3-for-9) with RISP and 2 outs.

with 2 outs in an inning, Michael bat .269 (7-for-26). he had 1 double, 1 home run, 5 RBI, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts swinging.

additionally, he bat .306 (11-for-36) with 14 RBI with runners on base and N/A (0-for-0) with the bases loaded with 1 RBI. he only came to the plate once with bases loaded and drew a walk, so he technically did not register a batting average for that category.

Michael also bat .310 (13-for-42) with the bases empty. he hit 3 home runs, giving him 3 RBI, and drew 2 walks, but struck out 12 times (11 swinging, 1 looking).

furthermore, Michael had a 0.8 fWAR (wins above replacement), a 154 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus--the ability to create runs compared to the league average), a 0.5 BsR (baserunning runs above average with stolen bases and caught stealings), and -0.1 UZR (ultimate zone rating) in April. his WAR, wRC+, and BsR all rank 4th, while his UZR ranks 6th among eight total qualifying American League left fielders. [these stats all came courtesy of fangraphs.com.] his 20 games make for a small sample size and i do expect some of these to get better down the road.


Versus AL Central Division Teams

it doesn't matter that Michael hadn't faced his division foes regularly for quite some time because all his numbers against them in April were vintage Brantley. take a look:

vs. the Chicago White Sox, Michael bat .333 (7-for-21) between 3 home games and 2 of the 3 road games in April. (he had 1 scheduled day off during one series.) the Indians went 3-2 in the games he played in and lost the game he did not play in. overall, Michael had 3 singles and 4 extra base hits, including 2 doubles and 2 home runs, as well as 5 RBI, 3 runs, 2 walks (1 intentional), 1 stolen base (2nd), 1 caught stealing (2nd), 3 first at bat hits, and 15 total bases. he also had 6 strikeouts (5 swinging, 1 looking) and left 8 men on base. furthermore, he had a .391 OBP, .714 SLG, and 1.106 OPS. while playing left field, Michael recorded 11 putouts and 1 assist in 46 total innings/5 complete games. that's some legit production in 5 games.

vs. the Detroit Tigers, Michael bat .375 (3-for-8) in 2 of the 3 home games in April. (he had 1 scheduled day off during the series.) the Indians went 1-1 in the games he played in and lost the game he did not play in. overall, Michael had 3 singles, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 stolen base (3rd), and 3 total bases. he also grounded into 1 double play, struck out swinging twice, and left 4 men on base. furthermore, he had a .444 OBP, .375 SLG, and .819 OPS. defensively, he played 18 innings/2 complete games in left field and recorded 3 putouts. yes it was only 2 games, but i was elated to see Michael continue to be a thorn in the Tigers' side.

vs. the Minnesota Twins, Michael bat .333 (4-for-12) in 3 road games in April. (it was initially supposed to be a 4-game series, but 1 game was postponed due to rain and will be made up in June.) the Indians went 3-0 in the games he played in. overall, Michael had 2 singles and 2 extra base hits, including 1 double and 1 home run, to go along with 3 RBI, 4 runs, 2 walks, 1 hit by pitch, 1 first at bat hit, and 8 total bases. additionally, he struck out swinging once and stranded 5 runners. furthermore, he had a .467 OBP, .667 SLG, and 1.133 OPS. he played 26 innings in left field, but only 2 complete games because he was subbed out defensively after 8 innings in 1 game following getting hit in the right shin. he also recorded 9 putouts. another solid showing here, if i do say so myself.

the Indians did not face the Kansas City Royals in April.


Interleague Play

to this point in his career, Michael has not performed very well during interleague play. maybe as the year goes on, he can change that. but in April, he played two of three games against one National League opponent, going 1-for-6 and batting .167 overall.

vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field (no designated hitter allowed), Michael bat .167 (1-for-6) in 2 of the 3 road games in April. (he had 1 scheduled day off during the series.) the Indians went 0-2 in the games he played in and lost the game he did not play in as well. Michael's lone hit was a single, but he also had 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 stolen base (2nd), and 1 total base. in addition, he struck out swinging once and left 3 men on base. furthermore, he had a .286 OBP, .167 SLG, and .452 OPS. in the field, Michael played 16 innings/2 complete games in left and recorded 3 putouts. (note: he was subbed out offensively in 1 game in the top of the 9th inning, depriving him of one more plate appearance.)


League Rankings

Michael currently has a wide-range of stats that rank within the Top 10 all around the league. here is where they fall in their respective filters:

among qualifying left fielders in the American League, Michael's ranked 1st in hits (24) and batting average (.308); tied for 1st in doubles (4), RBI (17), and intentional walks (1); 2nd in total bases (43); tied for 2nd in extra base hits (9) and home runs (5); 3rd in runs (13), OBP (.365), SLG (.551), and OPS (.916); tied for 4th in stolen bases (3) and hit by pitches (1); 5th in at bats (78) and strikeouts (18); tied for 6th in singles (15) and plate appearances (85); tied for 8th in games played (20); and tied for 10th in walks (6).

among qualifying outfielders in the American League, Michael is tied for 2nd in intentional walks; tied for 5th in home runs and RBI; 7th in batting average and SLG; 8th in OPS; tied for 9th in hits, extra base hits, doubles, stolen bases, and total bases; and tied for 10th in runs and hit by pitches.

among qualifying players in the American League, Michael ranks tied for 10th in RBI.

among all qualifying left fielders in the Major Leagues, Michael is 1st in batting average; tied for 1st in intentional walks; 4th in hits; tied for 4th in RBI; 5th in OPS; tied for 5th in runs and hit by pitches; 6th in total bases, OBP, and SLG; tied for 6th in stolen bases; tied for 7th in extra base hits, singles, and doubles; and tied for 8th in home runs.

among all qualifying outfielders in the Major Leagues, Michael ranks tied for 5th in intentional walks.

among all qualifying players in the Major Leagues, Michael does not have any stats that rank in the Top 10 right now.


April Standout Games, Spotlights, & Quotes

Michael got his first hit and RBI of 2017 in the Indians' first game of the season on April 3 against the Texas Rangers. in his fifth at bat in the top of the 9th inning with 2 outs, Carlos Santana at 3rd base, and the Tribe up, 7-5, Michael hit an RBI single to right field after a 3-2 count against right-handed pitcher Sam Dyson. that additionally represented his first hit and RBI in a Major League game since May 8, 2016! in a contest where his first AB resulted in a strikeout (looking), that single helped cap a night where he otherwise would have gone hitless, as he finished 1-for-5.

Michael had his first multi-hit game of the season on April 4, going 2-for-4 against the Rangers. his first hit came after an 0-2 count when he hit a line drive single to left field off left-hander Martin Perez to lead off the top of the 3rd inning with the Tribe in front, 3-2.

he acquired an RBI single for the second game in a row after he hit a ground ball single to left field on a 1-1 count from southpaw Dario Alvarez. it occurred in the top of the 7th inning with Austin Jackson at 2nd base, Santana at 1st, and 2 outs. the insurance run extended the Tribe's lead to 4-2.

SportsTime Ohio in-game reporter Andre Knott conducted an interview with Michael after the game. i transcribed some of it from the video on the FOX Sports Ohio youtube channel.

how did he slow down the situation to get that RBI late in the game? "he's a good pitcher coming out of the bullpen, do your homework. he has a fastball, slider. i just got lucky enough to get a slider out over the plate and kind of stay on it and score a run right there for the team."

how has he been able to come back and almost look like the player we've seen for the last four, five years? "a lot of hard work this offseason. i lot of hard work with my teammates during spring training to get to this level. it didn't come easy, but i'm here, i'm happy, i'm healthy. i get to help out my teammates every day. it's exciting."

where does he feel he's at right now? "i work every day. i gotta continue to work, continue to get better, make adjustments, they're making adjustments to me. just do the best i can."

on the Indians' first off day on April 6, Jordan Bastian shared some of Michael's father's thoughts about his comeback. from JB's Major League Bastian blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, Mickey believed Michael's question now after all his rehab is 'am i going to be sharp?' "it's getting the confidence to get back in there, get that good feel and take off. he's played this game a long time. he's a very good player. he's confident. right now, his swing's looking pretty good. he's tightened it up a little bit. it looks pretty good. now, it's just putting it into play and seeing how far it goes."

Mickey also discussed Michael's leadership during the Indians' playoff run last year when he could not play. "they wanted him there. just his insight. setting up the pitcher. he was telling guys how to approach people--that kind of stuff. he's always been that. he's not only a student of the game. he teaches the game, along with it. he got the young players kind of wrapped around his finger a little bit. they run behind him. the Lindors and those guys. they like what he says. he's pretty tough and stern with them. and, hey, i think he's teaching them discipline. he's prepared. his preparation is really good. i think that's what separates him. he does his homework. there's no surprises. he's ready. when he goes up there to face those pitchers, they don't have anything that's going to surprise him. that's what he's trying to bestow into Lindor and the young hitters. when you go up there, you learn, if the guy gets you out, how did he get you out? and you make your adjustments. things like that that make everybody better."

Michael got his first stolen base of the season in the game on April 7 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. he had just drawn his first walk of the season in his third plate appearance with 2 outs in the top of the 5th inning after facing right-hander Shelby Miller. (ball 4 came on the 8th pitch of a full count.) as ball 3 was thrown on a 2-1 count during Edwin Encarnacion's at bat, Michael took off and safely stole 2nd base! according to Paul Hoynes' tweet, Michael slid in feet first after getting a great jump and that approach helps in keeping his shoulder safe.

his first two PAs in this game did not result in a hit, but were still important in relation to how Michael was continuing to improve the more he played. he hit a hard ground ball to the 3rd baseman, first pitch swinging, in the top of the 1st for an out, and also hit a sharp liner to right field, first pitch swinging again, in the top of the 2nd. T.J. Zuppe unearthed that the exit velocity of those two swings were 99.4 mph and 100.1 mph, respectively, while Michael's average exit velo over his first three games had only been 84.1 mph.

Tito had this to say about Michael's performance via Bastian's blog on bastian.mlblogs.com: "he's a smart baserunner, man. and he actually had really good at bats. the first time up, he hit that ball to 3rd. great play. then he lined out to right. i think he looks really good. i think he's having fun playing, too. you can tell."

in the game against the D-backs on April 8, Michael got his first go-ahead hit and go-ahead RBI of 2017! it came with no score, Santana at 3rd base, and 1 out in the top of the 4th inning. Michael faced right-hander Zach Greinke in his second at bat and after a 3-2 count, he hit a ground ball single to right field to score Santana and give the Indians a 1-0 lead. the pitch he hit was a 91 mph fastball inside and he hit it through the shift on the right side of the infield.

while Michael enjoyed a big moment when he received a very warm welcome and a 2016 American League Champions ring at the beginning of the Indians' Home Opener on April 11, it took him 10 innings to do big damage with his bat versus the Chicago White Sox. he finished the game with two walks, including one intentional for his first intent walk of 2017. but Michael got the same amount of cheers and applause at the end of the game that he was met with at the start when he hit his first double of the year, which was also his first extra base hit of the year. why was it so superior? because it was a walk-off double. he came to bat with Francisco Lindor at 1st base, 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the game tied at 1. after running the count full against right-hander Tommy Kahnle, he hit the ball down the left field line, good enough to score Lindor and win the game! it was the perfect homecoming for Brant, imo.

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

many more details, pictures, and quotes can be found in the separate blog post i wrote, entitled Brantley Wins the Indians' 2017 Home Opener with a Walk-off Double!

on April 12, Michael joined Jim Rosenhaus for the WTAM 1100 pregame show. during the game versus the White Sox, Rosey brought up that Michael himself recognized and conceded he'd been doing too much swinging and missing. Rosey rationalized that that would improve as he continued to play.

following the game, Bastian's Covering The Bases blog on bastian.mlblogs.com noted that Lindor was batting .333 so far this year while the rest of the team was only batting .189. to that, Michael offered, "we'll kind of get it rolling and it will take off from there. we all need to get in a rhythm, just relax, kind of pass it on to one another. we'll be just fine. you create your own luck. we've been squaring up some balls, and unfortunately, that's going to happen throughout the course of a year. but, our main focus is to take one pitch at a time, one at bat at a time and not try to press. we're a great lineup. we're going to be even better as soon as we get used to each other and get into a rhythm. we're going to be just fine."

in Bastian's postgame article on indians.com, he additionally reported that before the game, Michael's average exit velocity of 86.6 mph ranked seventh among the eight Indians hitters with at least 10 balls in play.

Michael had a memorable game on April 13 versus the White Sox, despite the Tribe's loss. first, Michael got a hit in his first at bat of a game for the first time this year, when he hit a line drive double to right field on the first pitch from right-hander Miguel Gonzalez with Lindor at 1st base and 1 out in the bottom of the 1st inning. the Indians were already behind, 5-0, at this point though.

then in Michael's third at bat, he hit his first home run of the season! it came with 1 out in the bottom of the 5th inning and the Tribe down, 7-1. on the 8th pitch of a 3-2 count from Gonzalez, Michael sent a fly ball to deep right-center field. it was his first homer in 581 days, per Bastian, since September 10, 2015. that also marked Michael's first game of the year with two extra base hits and gave him four straight games with an RBI. not only that, but Michael scored his first run of the season on his homer as well.

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

aside from going 2-for-5 offensively, Michael displayed some nice defense in left field. i described his first outfield assist of 2017 down below in the In The Field section of this blog.

Michael achieved another multi-hit game on April 16 versus the Detroit Tigers when he went 2-for-4 with two singles. he was part of a double steal when he stole 3rd base and Encarnacion stole 2nd in the bottom of the 6th inning with the Indians losing, 2-0. then, he scored a run on a sacrifice fly by Jose Ramirez. sadly, Michael also grounded into his first double play of the season on this day. Lindor was at 1st base with 1 out in the bottom of the 1st inning. after a 2-2 count from southpaw Matthew Boyd, he hit a ground ball to the 2nd baseman, who retired Lindor and then threw to 1st base to get Michael and end the inning.

in the game on April 17 against the Minnesota Twins, Michael acquired his first multi-RBI game of the season, aka two of the Tribe's three total runs. it started when Michael hit an RBI groundout to 1st base in his second plate appearance in the top of the 3rd inning. Yan Gomes was at 3rd base and Lindor was at 2nd with 1 out and the Indians down, 1-0. right-hander Kyle Gibson was behind in the count, 1-0, when Michael grounded out to 1st base to score Gomes and tie the game.

then in Michael's third plate appearance in the top of the 5th inning with 1 out and the Indians up, 2-1, he hit a solo home run to right-center field off Gibson on a 1-0 fastball to increase the Tribe's lead and give him his second RBI of the night. via Tyler Mason and Rhett Bollinger's co-authored indians.com article, Michael's hit had an exit velocity of 105.4 mph and the ball traveled 411 feet.

after the game, Knott interviewed Michael on the field. from the video posted on the FOX Sports Ohio youtube channel, Knott inquired how much has he been able to keep his swing by having those [off] days where he can work with his father and all the other coaches? "it's tough because you always want to see pitching. i was out of the game for a long time so the more pitches i get to see, the better off i'll be. but at the same time, it's a process, i understand the process. i gotta keep going out there and just keep working hard and just trying to put up good at bats for the team."

in Mason's article on indians.com, Michael confessed that he didn't think the ball he hit was a home run. "i was trying to get on second. that was my whole goal. i was running out of the box. luckily it went out, and we got a win tonight."

"he looks like Brantley, which is a big compliment to him and his work ethic," Terry Francona declared. "it's one thing to come back, but you've got to still hit Major League pitching, and he really doesn't look like he's missed a beat. now he's starting to get some games in a row. he's starting to get some timing, and it's exciting for us." 

"i'm getting there, let's put it that way," Michael self-assessed. "it's going to take some repetition. it's going to take some time. i understand that. i understand the process that it takes now from being out for a little while--actually a long while."

from an article on cleveland.com published by Hoynsie on April 18, Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo referenced Michael's swing. "as long as there is no pain, he can let the swing go. nothing is holding him back. i like where his swing is at. he's driving the ball."

April 18's game against the Twins was a meaningful one for Michael because it denoted his 12th game played this season, surpassing his 11 total games from last year. besides having another multi-hit game when Michael went 2-for-4, he also scored three runs overall. he first hit a 1-out, line drive double to right field after a 1-0 count against right-handed pitcher Phil Hughes in his first AB with Lindor at 1st base in the top of the 1st inning. after that, Zuppe tweeted that Michael's three hardest hit balls of the young season had come over the past three days (4/16: 104.8 mph, 4/17: 105.4 mph, and 4/18: 108.8 mph). Zuppe followed that up with a tweet uncovering that Michael had hit at least one ball at 100+ mph in each of his last six games (between April 12-18), to insinuate that his swing was progressing. later, Michael scored his first run of the night on an error by the Twins' right fielder, giving him a run scored in five straight games. that run put the Tribe up, 2-0.

next, with 1 out in the top of the 3rd inning, Michael hit a single to right-center field on the 5th pitch of a 1-2 count against Hughes to give him his fourth multi-hit game. he scored another run soon after on Ramirez's home run, resulting in his first multi-run game of 2017. and the Indians took a 5-2 lead.

but it wouldn't stop there. Michael got hit by a pitch after an 0-2 count from righty Michael Tonkin while leading off the top of the 9th inning. according to Tom Hamilton's radio call on WTAM 1100, the ball smoked him just below the right knee. Francona and trainer Jeff Desjardins both went out to check on Michael, who was slow to get down the 1st baseline. but he stayed in the game and then scored his third run of the night after Encarnacion hit a home run to extend the Tribe's lead to 11-4. Michael didn't finish the game, however, as he was subbed out defensively in left field for the bottom of the 9th.

during Francona's postgame presser, which i listened to on my laptop through MLB Gameday audio, he told the media that Michael "got whacked pretty good on the shin." following him scoring on EE's homer, Tito thought the quicker he got ice on it [the better], so that's why he didn't complete the game in left, but he was okay.

Michael had his first plate appearance with bases loaded this year in the game on April 20 against the Twins in the top of the 7th inning. the game was tied at 2 and there was 1 out. Michael Martinez (pinch runner for Roberto Perez) was on 3rd base, Santana was on 2nd, and Lindor was on 1st (after being intentionally walked, mind you). Michael faced left-hander Taylor Rogers, and on the 7th pitch of a full count, drew the go-ahead RBI walk on a fastball inside to put the Indians in front, 3-2. the pitch sequence went: strike called, foul, ball, foul, ball, ball, ball 4.

after the game, Twins manager Paul Molitor talked about Michael in Hoynsie's article on cleveland.com. "you add Michael Brantley to your lineup and that's going to help your cause. Brantley is a complete hitter, a little bit of power and he can certainly hit for a high average. he takes good at bats every day."

Rogers mulled over the plate appearance in another Hoynsie article on cleveland.com as well. "with the scouting reports and the way the at bat was going, Brantley was just waiting for a fastball to flick into left field. i just wanted to go inside, but the count got late. i stayed away with the curveball so i wouldn't walk him and walked him anyway."

Michael collected another multi-hit game on April 21 against the White Sox when he went 2-for-4 with two singles. with the Indians up, 3-0, his second single led off the top of the 6th inning, coming on a 2-2 count from left-handed starter Jose Quintana. Michael tried to steal 2nd base during Encarnacion's at bat, as ball 1 was thrown after an 0-1 count, but was disappointingly caught stealing for the first time this season. he believed he got his foot on the bag before the tag, as Hammy affirmed on the radio, but the Indians opted not to challenge the call because they felt he truly was out after Omar Narvaez's throw to Yolmer Sanchez at 2nd. the video on indians.com doesn't really support that to be honest, though. normally a very good baserunner, Michael has only been caught stealing three times in 44 attempts since the beginning of the 2014 season, for what it's worth.

on April 22, Michael put together his second straight multi-hit game against the White Sox after going 2-for-5. his first hit was a 2-out, ground ball single to short that deflected off righty pitcher Mike Pelfrey's leg on the 8th pitch of a 3-2 count in the top of the 1st inning. the pitch sequence went: strike called, ball, ball, foul, ball, foul, foul, single. then Michael safely stole 2nd base as a first pitch fastball was thrown to Encarnacion, who swung and missed at the offering. Dr. Smooth later scored on EE's home run, which gave the Indians a 2-0 lead.

then in his fourth AB of the game in the top of the 7th inning, with Santana at 2nd base (after safely stealing it) and 1 out, Michael hit a line drive home run into the Indians bullpen in right field against right-handed reliever Michael Ynoa on a 1-2 count. that made it 6-0 Tribe. the pitch sequence went: strike called, ball, foul, home run (slider).

Bastian's Covering the Bases blog on bastian.mlblogs.com unveiled that Michael had two balls in play in the game with exit velocities over 100 mph. over the past week (4/16 - 4/22), he'd put six balls in play with 100+ mph exit velos, whereas he had six in the first two weeks of the season (4/3 - 4/15) combined. "it's not as easy as he makes it look," Francona contended. "he missed so much time. but, he's the same hitter he was before. i think that's a testament to not only his talent, but his work ethic."

on April 24, an Indians off day, Bastian wrote another blog for bastian.mlblogs.com that explored "launch angle," the newest rage for baseball stats-hounds. in it, he made it known that Michael cringed at the term. and if you've been a long-time follower of his career like i have, then this wouldn't surprise you. hell, if he ever read my blogs with just the conventional stats that i provide in them, he would probably cringe too lol anyway, Michael recently vowed, "i don't believe in launch angle. when you say launch angle to me, it means nothing. it means getting the barrel to the baseball. that's all i believe in. launch angle is the byproduct of a good swing."

Michael insisted it's about pitch selection and knowing when to go on the attack. he doesn't believe in manipulating a swing in order to create more lift; the lift will come naturally with a better approach. he thinks if a hitter gets too caught up in focusing on launch angle, that can have a negative impact. "i'm all about learning counts, learning situations, learning pitchers' tendencies. it's having the repetitions so you're able to attack at certain points or getting mistake pitches, or learning what they're doing and not trying to do too much."

when Francona met with the media before the game on April 25 versus the Houston Astros, he conferred about Michael's swing, comeback, and performance so far via Bastian's blog on bastian.mlblogs.com. "i haven't thought all along that he wasn't getting through his swing. even from the very beginning. even back in spring training, one of his first games, he hit a line drive, he had a check swing, he had a ball he hit to left field, he had a ball he hit foul down the right-field line. he kind of took all the possible swings you could maybe have. i think he's looked good from the very beginning.

"he went through a lot. i think until a guy comes back, it's hard to say for sure that he's going to come back, because it had happened before. i think the way i kind of viewed it was if work ethic and being conscientious mattered, he was giving himself every chance possible. i think we feel fortunate that he is back playing like he can play. i don't know what else he could have done. if it didn't work, it would have been awful hard to point to something because he had worked so hard at it. he was so diligent in his work.

"sometimes you get a guy back in name but not necessarily what they can do. he really doesn't look like he's missed much of a beat at all. i know early on, he was kind of concerned, because he wanted to be able to play enough where he could find his rhythm at the plate. it looks to me like he's doing that. when they get him out now, it just looks like they're getting him out. it's not because of something. he looks to me like he's really having fun playing. he's not the loudest guy, but i think when the game is taken away, you realize how much you miss it. i think he's enjoying playing."

during the game, Michael hit his fourth homer of the year in his fourth AB of the night against southpaw Dallas Keuchel in the bottom of the 9th inning. he led it off with the Tribe down, 4-1, took a first pitch strike, and then took a ball. with the count even at 1, he sent a fly ball to right-center field for a solo home run, his first HR off a left-handed pitcher this season. it was his only hit of the night, giving him a 1-for-4 game line, but it was enough to increase his hitting streak to nine games.

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter

according to Bastian's tweet, the ball Michael hit had a 34% hit probability (or how many times similar balls in play result in a hit or out, which Bastian schooled is calculated by a combination of launch angle and exit velocity). Zuppe later compared how Michael didn't hit his fourth HR in 2015 until May 14, but his fourth homer during his All Star 2014 season came on April 21...

Michael had a terrific showing on April 26, going 2-for-4 and manufacturing a three RBI game versus the Astros. in his first at bat in the bottom of the 1st inning, Santana was at 2nd base and Lindor was at 1st with no score. after taking two strikes from right-handed starter Lance McCullers, Jr., he fouled a pitch. then he hit the 4th pitch of the 0-2 count to deep left-center field for a go-ahead RBI double that scored Santana and advanced Lindor to 3rd base. it was the sixth ball he'd barreled to that point in the season, which was the second highest on the team behind Lindor's 10, as documented in Anthony Castrovince's column on indians.com. that double further signified Michael's third go-ahead hit of the year and fourth go-ahead RBI. and it also quickly extended his hitting streak to 10 games, the 11th such hitting streak in his career. moreover, he was tied with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels for the longest active hitting streak in the majors at the time, per Hoynsie's cleveland.com article. (spoiler alert: Trout went on to continue his streak the next night while Michael did not.)

later, in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Indians clung to a 3-2 lead. with Santana at 3rd and Lindor at 2nd base, Michael faced McCullers again. after a 2-1 count, he hit a ground ball single into left field that scored both Santana and Lindor to push the Tribe's lead to 5-2. the pitch sequence went: ball, ball, called strike, hit. from Castro's article again, the single was the 14th ball he'd put into play that had an exit velocity of 100 mph or higher so far this season. and of course, that hit gave Michael three RBI on the night, along with his seventh multi-hit game and third multi-RBI game of his young 2017 campaign.

photo courtesy of Ken Blaze via USA TODAY Sports

i also want to acknowledge how Michael ended the game with a .318 batting average, which ranked second highest on the team out of all the qualifying players. he trailed the team leader, Jose Ramirez, by two points then. (regrettably, he would get no closer--quite the opposite actually--as the month came to its conclusion.)

the only downer of his performance was he struck out swinging twice, both after 1-2 counts in the order of ball 1, strike (swinging/called), foul, swing and miss. when Michael strikes out once in a game, it's generally a shock. but to do it two times, that's how you know he was not 100% back to his old self yet.

"it's getting there," Michael pronounced about his swing in a postgame interview on the FOX Sports Ohio youtube channel. "i'm always working. it's a work in progress. i trust the process that it's gonna get better, i hope. but i'm excited to just be out there with my teammates and help them. watching from the sidelines, it was tough last year, but being out there every day and just having fun with the boys and playing baseball again, it's all i could ask." (watch the whole video to hear more of his thoughts on the intense game and catching some breaks to score some runs.)

from a video on cleveland.com's youtube channel, Michael added, "it's a lot of hard work paid off this offseason, trying to get my body in the best shape to physically be back on the field. i didn't think i was gonna come back being a slap hitter so i just gotta keep a good mindset and just work on driving the baseball and continue to do it."

"i always pay attention of kind of where they're shifting or what they're trying to do because usually that's gonna kinda tell you how they're gonna kinda pitch you or attack you," Michael went on in another video provided by indians.com. "i do take a glance out there, i pay attention, but then kinda get focused to the at bat."

"[McCullers] has a very good breaking ball. it's a plus breaking ball, it's one of the best breaking balls you're gonna see all year. you just try to stay on it. you can roll them over with the best of them especially when they're that good, so if you can stay on it and try to drive it the other way, you're gonna have better success."

Tito also spoke on Michael following the contest in another FOX Sports Ohio youtube video. "i think the more repetition he gets, you're starting to see him get some timing, and that's good."

in Castrovince's indians.com column, Francona further recounted Michael's 2-run single to left. "he's got a really good idea of what he's doing. runner on third with less than two outs, you very rarely see him pull off. he can shoot the ball the other way. they oftentimes pitch you backward because there's a runner in scoring position, but he's often on time because he's thinking the other way."

even the 'Stros' manager A.J. Hinch held Michael in high regard after the game. from William Kosileski and Brain McTaggart's indians.com article, he complimented, "he's such an unheralded player, and i think after missing a year, it's literally like getting a middle-of-the-order bat to sign as a free agent. it's a new player for them, even though he's been around. he's such a good competitor."

a late reaction game article went up on cleveland.com by Zack Meisel on April 27, bringing to light assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro's perception of Michael's swing. "he'd probably say it's not as consistent. he missed a lot of time, but there were a lot of years of putting the hay in the barn before that, too. ...he went [a year] without seeing competitive pitches. it takes your eyes time to adjust."

"it looks like he's never missed a day," fellow outfielder Jackson evaluated.

on the contrary, Michael did miss a day on April 28 when Tito gave him the game versus the Seattle Mariners off lol Michael still got on the field for a minute though when he caught one of the ceremonial 1st pitches. the three new 1st round draft picks of the Cleveland Browns were at Progressive Field, including David Njoku, whose pitch Michael caught. indians.com supplied that video, but Zuppe also recorded a video of it on his twitter from his seat in the press box, where you can see Michael directing Njoku prior to his throw.

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter

in his final game on April 30 versus the Mariners, Michael achieved a new career high for the month of April! he went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and two runs. Michael's first hit came in his second at bat when he led off the bottom of the 3rd inning with the game tied at 1. after a 2-1 count, he hit a line drive single to right field off right-hander Chase De Jong. the pitch sequence went: ball, ball, foul, single. after Ramirez drew a walk, Jason Kipnis drove Michael home for the go-ahead run.

the Indians kept hitting and Michael got to bat again in the bottom of the 3rd, this time with Lindor on 2nd base and 2 outs. Michael faced righty reliever Casey Fien with the Tribe up, 7-1. his at bat went as follows: ball, swing and miss, ball, foul, foul. then, on the 6th pitch of the 2-2 count, Michael sent a towering fly ball to deep right field for his fifth home run of the year! (that's one more than Encarnacion currently has, i might add.) that homer gave Michael his eighth multi-hit game of the season, his fourth multi-RBI game of the season, and a new April career high in homers, as he had never hit more than four long balls in a month of April before! what a way to end his first month back, huh?!

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter
photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

"he doesn't look like he's missed a beat," Lonnie Chisenhall divulged in Bastian's postgame indians.com article. "a lot of people don't get to see what he has to do in the training room, the weight room, before the games to get out there and perform just like he always has. that's the impressive thing."

"there's not a lot of guys that can miss a whole year and come back and pick up where they left off," Michael's teammate and close friend Josh Tomlin lauded. "this is not that easy of a game, but he makes it look like it is. that's a testament to doing your homework. he's above and beyond, one of the hardest workers i've ever seen."


In The Field & Assist League Rankings

don't look for Michael to play anywhere in the outfield other than left this season, let me get that out of the way now. this month, he recorded 38 putouts and acquired 1 assist in 39 total defensive chances to produce a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. i'm hoping to see Michael rack up some more assists as he continues to get back to playing regularly in left field.

coming into 2017, Michael had played 30 straight games in the outfield without an error. add that to the 20 games he appeared in this month and he presently owns a 50-game errorless streak. Michael does not commit errors in the outfield often, as proven by the Indians franchise record he set in 2014 when he played in 247 consecutive games without an error. i don't know if Michael will ever get to the point where he could break his record (while with the Indians), but i am still going to keep track of his progress and see if he can inch closer to it this season.

Michael obtained his first outfield assist of the year on April 13 in the game versus the Chicago White Sox. it occurred with 1 out in the top of the 8th inning and the Indians trailing, 7-3. Leury Garcia was at 2nd base and Tim Anderson was at 1st when Melky Cabrera came to bat against Indians relief pitcher Dan Otero. Cabrera hit a ball to left field that Michael could not catch, but after he gloved it, he was able to make a good throw to Tribe 3rd baseman Yandy Diaz to get the assist on the out (Garcia) at 3rd. Anderson moved up to 2nd and Cabrera reached 1st base on the forceout.

in the game on April 16 versus the Detroit Tigers, Michael made his very first diving catch of the year. with the Indians down, 2-0, in the top of the 6th inning, Miguel Cabrera was batting against Carlos Carrasco. after a 1-0 count, Miggy hit a liner to left field. according to Tom Hamilton's call on WTAM 1100, Michael took a few steps towards the line and dove to make the catch for the 1st out. after being hesitant in previous games, it appeared that Michael was becoming more confident and comfortable out there again, which was reassuring.

back on April 8, Terry Francona was asked if there was any fear about Michael diving for a ball in Jordan Bastian's bastian.mlblogs.com blog. "what are you going to do? we kind of talked about that the other day, how do you tell somebody not to play? i think sometimes, if you play protecting something, you almost put yourself at more risk. just prepare, play the game right and things happen, we all know that."

in Terry Pluto's April 22 Terry's Talkin' article on cleveland.com, he mentioned that while Michael is not banned from diving for balls and banging into walls, the Indians would prefer him to play it safe in the outfield. i can confirm that he has heeded that advice and seemed a bit reluctant in left field at times. there were a few balls hit to left this month that someone who was not cautiously trying to "protect" his shoulder may have gotten to and caught. luckily that has yet to affect any games or cause the Indians to lose.

for example, in the game on April 29 versus the Seattle Mariners, Michael tried to make a basket catch in foul territory in the top of the 2nd inning with the Tribe up, 4-3. listening to Hammy's description of the attempt on the radio broadcast, Michael just kind of reached his hand out while being very careful as to not run into the side railing in the left field corner. because he didn't entirely maintain focus on the ball, he didn't make the catch and, from the photos, ended up over the rail anyway. before his shoulder and biceps surgeries, however, i think Michael gloves that ball. easily.

photos courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

now i'm going to quickly rank Michael's April outfield assist around the league.

among AL left fielders, Michael's 1 assist in April ranks tied for 4th (with 12 other players). Houston's Norichika Aoki, Boston's Andrew Benintendi, and Kansas City's Alex Gordon have the most with 2.

among all MLB left fielders, Michael's 1 assist ranks tied for 6th (with 20 other players). Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers is the leader with 3 assists, while Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets has 2 assists.

among all AL outfielders, Michael's 1 assist ranks tied for 12th (with 33! other players).

among all MLB outfielders, Michael's 1 assist ranks tied for 21st (with 54!! other players).

the current MLB OF assist leaders are Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista & Kevin Pillar, Chicago Cub Jason Heyward, and Braun, who all have 3.

(going forward, i will not be ranking Michael's monthly assists, i will only rank his total assists in my cumulative #s posts. but since April #s are also cumulative season #s, i decided to feature this here.)


Oh Captain, Not My Captain

i'm going to call attention to this once and then i'm not deliberating about it again. it has been made crystal clear that Michael's time in center field as a Cleveland Indian is over. i've written about my feelings regarding this in the past, indicating how i don't quite understand it because nothing is or has ever been wrong with his legs. i've also conveyed my thoughts on Lonnie Chisenhall as a CF last year--i see no reason for it. the guy became a superb right fielder, why not just leave him there and let Abraham Almonte and Austin Jackson (and Tyler Naquin in the future) play center? i'm not sure why Terry Francona is pushing for this experiment now during the regular season. Chiz has struggled in certain games and put the team in precarious positions when balls have gone over his head, so i can't really find the advantage in doing this. (for the record, Terry Pluto agrees with me.) but i'm not here to bash any other player. i simply find it hard to believe that Michael, a veteran outfielder of nine years in the Major Leagues, has to play left field and submit to OF Captain Chisenhall...😞

if you have any strong opinions about this subject, feel free to leave a comment!



now let's break down the numbers. i am going to document his April #s, the 3rd spot #s, and the PH #s, as well as the left field #s, 3rd + left field #s, and overall outfield #s.


April batting average: .308

OBP: .365

SLG: .551

OPS: .916


Michael played in 20 (of 24) games, 17 complete, in April.

he started and played left field in 19 games, completing 17 of those games, appearing in 20 total.

he was a defensive switch into left field in 1 game for 2 innings after a PH appearance.

he was subbed out defensively in 2 games after playing a total of 15 innings; 1 game after 8 innings because he had just been hit by a pitch and also because the Indians were winning a blowout and he had done more than enough in the game, and 1 game after 7 innings because the Indians were winning a blowout and he had done more than enough in the game.

he came in to PH in the top of the 8th inning for 1 game.

additionally, he was subbed out offensively in the top of the 9th inning in 1 game and lost out on 1 plate appearance, but still played a complete game defensively because there was no bottom of the 9th inning.

he got 4 scheduled games off.


Michael bat 3rd in 20 games. (1 PH)


Michael played left field in 20 games. (17 complete, 1 defensive switch: 2 innings, 2 subbed out: 15 innings)

Michael was a PH in 1 game.

Michael played in 17 complete games.



in April, Michael had a total of 85 plate appearances and 78 at bats. here is how he fared:

24 hits

9 extra base hits

15 singles

4 doubles

5 home runs

17 RBI

13 runs

6 walks

1 intentional walk

1 hit by pitch

3 stolen bases (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd)

1 caught stealing (2nd)

2 GIDP

18 strikeouts (16 swinging, 2 looking)

5 first at bat hits

43 total bases

30 left on base


38 putouts

1 assist

169.0 innings, 20 games

(17 complete games)

April batting average: .308 (24-78) (20 games)


now let's break down his numbers based on where he hit in the lineup.


when Michael bat 3rd in April, he had a total of 85 plate appearances and 78 at bats in 20 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

24 hits

9 extra base hits

15 singles

4 doubles

5 home runs

17 RBI

13 runs

6 walks

1 intentional walk

1 hit by pitch

3 stolen bases (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd)

1 caught stealing (2nd)

2 GIDP

18 strikeouts (16 swinging, 2 looking)

5 first at bat hits

43 total bases

30 left on base


38 putouts

1 assist

169.0 innings, 20 games

(17 complete games)

April batting average in the 3rd spot: .308 (24-78) (20 games)


when Michael bat 3rd and played left in April, he had a total of 84 plate appearances and 77 at bats in 20 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

24 hits

9 extra base hits

15 singles

4 doubles

5 home runs

17 RBI

13 runs

6 walks

1 intentional walk

1 hit by pitch

3 stolen bases (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd)

1 caught stealing (2nd)

2 GIDP

17 strikeouts (15 swinging, 2 looking)

5 first at bat hits

43 total bases

29 left on base


38 putouts

1 assist

169.0 innings, 20 games

(17 complete games)

April batting average in the 3rd spot while playing left: .312 (24-77) (20 games)


when Michael bat 3rd and was a PH in April, he had a total of 1 plate appearance and 1 at bat in 1 game. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

0 hits

1 strikeout swinging

1 left on base


1 game

April batting average in the 3rd spot as a PH: .000 (0-1) (1 game)


when Michael came in to PH in April, he had a total of 1 plate appearance and 1 at bat in 1 game. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

0 hits

1 strikeout swinging

1 left on base


1 game

April batting average as a PH: .000 (0-1) (1 game)


when Michael played the outfield in April, he had a total of 84 plate appearances and 77 at bats in 20 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

24 hits

9 extra base hits

15 singles

4 doubles

5 home runs

17 RBI

13 runs

6 walks

1 intentional walk

1 hit by pitch

3 stolen bases (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd)

1 caught stealing (2nd)

2 GIDP

17 strikeouts (15 swinging, 2 looking)

5 first at bat hits

43 total bases

29 left on base


38 putouts

1 assist

169.0 innings, 20 games

(17 complete games)

April batting average while playing the outfield: .312 (24-77) (20 games)


now let's break down his numbers specific to where he played in the outfield.


when Michael played left in April, he had a total of 84 plate appearances and 77 at bats in 20 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

24 hits

9 extra base hits

15 singles

4 doubles

5 home runs

17 RBI

13 runs

6 walks

1 intentional walk

1 hit by pitch

3 stolen bases (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd)

1 caught stealing (2nd)

2 GIDP

17 strikeouts (15 swinging, 2 looking)

5 first at bat hits

43 total bases

29 left on base


38 putouts

1 assist

169.0 innings, 20 games

(17 complete games)

April batting average while playing left: .312 (24-77) (20 games)


April #s while playing left: 38 putouts, 1 assist, 0 errors, 1.000 fielding percentage (169.0 innings, 20 games)

April #s while playing the outfield: 38 putouts, 1 assist, 0 errors, 1.000 fielding percentage (169.0 innings, 20 games)



now here are my game-by-game numbers and notes.

Game 1/1, April 3: 1-5, RBI single. AVG: .200
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 2/2, April 4: 2-4, single, RBI single. AVG: .333
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 3/3, April 5: 0-2. AVG: .273
[3rd/PH-LF: B8-B9/8-GF]

^^Michael did not start this game, but came in to pinch hit in the top of the 8th inning. then he stayed in the game as a defensive switch for the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings.^^

Game 4/4, April 7: 0-3, walk, stolen base (2nd). AVG: .214
[3rd/LF/CG8]

Game 5/5, April 8: 1-3, RBI single. AVG: .235
[3rd/LF/CG8]

^^Michael was subbed out offensively in the top of the 9th inning, but still played a complete game defensively because there was no bottom of the 9th inning.^^

Game /6, April 9: scheduled day off.

Game 6/7, April 11: 1-3, walk, intentional walk, RBI double. AVG: .250
[3rd/LF/CG10]

^^Michael hit a walk-off double in Home Opener^^

Game 7/8, April 12: 0-4, RBI groundout. AVG: .208
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 8/9, April 13: 2-5, double (first at bat), home run, run. AVG: .241
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game /10, April 14: scheduled day off, not available off the bench.

Game 9/11, April 15: 1-4, walk (first plate appearance), run, single. AVG: .242
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 10/12, April 16: 2-4, single, single, stolen base (3rd), run. AVG: .270
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 11/13, April 17: 1-4, walk (first plate appearance), RBI groundout, home run, run. AVG: .268
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 12/14, April 18: 2-4, double (first at bat), run, single, run, hit by pitch, run. AVG: .289
[3rd/LF/GS8]

April 19: game postponed, to be made up June 17 in a day-night DH.

Game 13/15, April 20: 1-4, single, RBI walk. AVG: .286
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 14/16, April 21: 2-4, single (first at bat), single, caught stealing (2nd). AVG: .302
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 15/17, April 22: 2-5, single (first at bat), stolen base (2nd), run, 2-run home run, run. AVG: .310
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game /18, April 23: scheduled day off.

Game 16/19, April 25: 1-4, home run, run. AVG: .306
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 17/20, April 26: 2-4, RBI double (first at bat), run, 2-run single. AVG: .318
[3rd/LF/CG9]

**Michael's 10-game hitting streak and 10-game on-base streak end**

Game 18/21, April 27: 0-4. AVG: .300
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game /22, April 28: scheduled day off.

Game 19/23, April 29: 1-4, single. AVG: .297
[3rd/LF/CG9]

Game 20/24, April 30: 2-4, single, run, 2-run home run, run. AVG: .308
[3rd/LF/GS7]


if you missed any of the Brantley blogs i wrote during the offseason, i will list and link them all here.

Surgery and Rehab:
Brantley To Have Season-Ending Right Shoulder Surgery (August 13, 2016)
Brantley Undergoes Biceps Tenodesis, Recovery Will Take 4 Months (August 15, 2016) 
What Is Biceps Tenodesis?
Brantley's August 2016 Post-Surgery Interview
Brantley's September 2016 Sling Updates
Brantley's 2016 Postseason October Rehab Updates
Brantley News & Updates from November & December 2016
Brantley's January 2017 Hitting Progressions + Other News & Pics
Brantley's February 2017 Hitting Progressions (Pre-Spring Games)
Brantley's Cactus League 2017 Rehab & Game Details
Brantley's Cactus League 2017 Rehab #s and My Predictions

Rankings:
Brantley Ranked 5th in MLB Network's Top 10 Left Fielders Right Now
Brantley Ranked 74th in MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now

ESPN's Baseball Tonight never did their Top 100 Players or Top 10 lists for each position this year. i don't know what happened with that. maybe the World Baseball Classic interfered with it so they chose to skip it.⍽


UP NEXT
 

voting for the 2017 All Star Game opens tomorrow and you already know i will be posting a blog with all the details about how to vote for Michael and the rest of your Cleveland Indians. i'm also going to leak some voting tips and tricks as well, so don't miss it!😉


i may not be on the Indians' payroll, but i habitually tweet about all of Michael's plate appearances and everything he does defensively. i highly recommend all his fans follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 for daily game information and other stuff about Michael this season! and if you haven't signed up for my email subscription list yet, you can do so by entering your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of the page to ensure that you'll receive notifications every time i publish a new blog!

finally, don't forget to check out the new polls i put up for the month of May under the About Me sidebar! what do you think Michael's BA will be in May? how many HR will he hit and RBI will he acquire? and how many games will the Indians win in May? get your votes in now!

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