Sunday, July 2, 2017

Brantley Named to MLB's 2017 AL All Star Team!

for the second time in his career, Michael Brantley is an All Star! that's right, Michael has been named as an American League outfield reserve and is headed to Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, for the 88th annual All Star Game on July 11, 2017!

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter

tonight, on July 2, this year's Midsummer Classic rosters were unveiled in an Esurance All Star Selection Show on ESPN at 7 pm ET. the American League OF reveal was first and i did not expect to see Michael in the top three. the starters include Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, and George Springer of the Houston Astros. Trout is still on the disabled list due to a torn UCL in his left thumb that he had surgery for at the end of May. originally, no one thought he had a chance to be ready to play this game, but evidently,
he may be.

we'll just have to wait and see what happens over the next week, but if he is not cleared, a player will be chosen to take his place. Anthony Castrovince explained in an article for mlb.com that if any starter cannot participate, the player with the highest votes on the player ballot, who's not already a starter, will be named as a replacement. that information has not been made public, so i have no idea if that honor would go to Michael or not. should that scenario arise, i will happily write a revised version of this blog!

in my opinion, if any of the top 3 cannot perform because of injury, the next highest vote-getter on the fan ballot should be the automatic starter. that's only fair. that's who the fans would want and that's who would be a starter if they took the top 4 OF. (i know that's not possible, but you get my point.)

when the previous voting results came out on June 26, Michael was in 4th place and 293,912 votes behind 3rd place Springer. the final fan ballot results showed that Michael remained in 4th place with 1,736,785 overall votes. despite gaining 411,312 votes in four days, he had fallen even further behind Springer, who won the last starting OF spot by 470,544 votes. Michael finished just 29,822 votes ahead of the player in the 5th spot, which was shockingly Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. he hadn't been near the top at all and was in the 7th place on June 26, so those Blue Jays fans really tried to rally for him. (note: i could not find the final results online anywhere; thankfully, my local newspaper printed them with their source being the Associated Press.)

luckily, Michael was voted in by fellow players to make the squad as an AL All Star reserve! better that than nothing! he is the only outfielder from the Indians to be selected to an All Star Game over the past nine seasons, according to TribeVibe's blog on tribevibe.mlblogs.com. before Michael, the last Tribe OF named as an All Star was Grady Sizemore back in 2008.

photo courtesy of @MLB on twitter

i was admittedly worried that he may have played himself out of a spot on the All Star team when he recently missed half of the month of June because he was out on the Paternity List and then subsequently placed on the 10-Day DL with a right ankle sprain. that took away ample opportunities for him to add to his season stats. aside from that, Michael has not had much power thus far this year, only hitting five home runs to this point, and is on the lower end of the RBI scale (with 30 at the time of voting) as well. also, just yesterday he got back to being a qualifying player after missing time, but prior to that, his .306 batting average couldn't be ranked among AL OF who were qualifiers. those are all stats that fans and players look at when making their voting choices. so this was a happy and somewhat unexpected surprise.

after voting concluded at 11:59 pm ET on June 29, here are the stats Michael had that ranked in the Top 10 among AL OF:
15 doubles - tied for 6th
5 assists - tied for 7th

among AL LF, on the other hand, he fared much better:
15 doubles - tied for 2nd
1 IBB - tied for 4th
66 hits - tied for 5th
5 assists - tied for 5th
30 RBI - 6th
7 SB - tied for 6th
20 XBH - 7th
22 BB - tied for 7th
96 TB - tied for 7th
1 SF - tied for 8th
216 AB - 9th
5 HR - tied for 9th
1 HBP - tied for 10th
140 PA - 10th

however, all outfielders (LF, CF, and RF) are grouped together in the voting process and compete against each other. so Michael's stats compared to other left fielders really doesn't matter here.

regardless of his rankings, Michael received a lot of support from baseball fans. i was particularly impressed to see how he continued to get votes even while he was out for a portion of June. i myself cast more votes than ever before, by creating SEVERAL new email addresses and asking to use the email addresses of friends whom i knew were not going to vote because they aren't baseball fans. in doing this, i was able to vote every day, every week that voting was open and i personally yielded 4,930 total votes for Michael. i did my part.

Michael has not been an All Star since 2014 and is the only Indians outfielder over the last nine seasons to be part of an All Star Game. i believe he got robbed in 2015 and obviously had no chance in 2016. i'm very glad that the players around the league respect what Michael has gone through, especially last year when he was out with continual right shoulder/biceps issues and needed season-ending biceps tenodesis (surgery) in August 2016. i can appreciate that the Major League players hold him in high enough regards and recognized his comeback to such a high degree that they couldn't not vote for him!

the other AL OF reserves chosen for this year's game are Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox and Avisail Garcia of the Chicago White Sox. they finished 7th and 6th on the fan ballot, respectively.

to see how the AL OF rankings changed over the course of eight weeks, refer to the All Star Voting Results section of my Brantley's 2017 #s Through June blog.

yesterday, on July 1, Jordan Bastian wrote an article for indians.com disclosing that Michael was not glued to the weekly All Star voting updates. to be fair, he didn't need to be, because his mother was. "i knew i was near the top. my mom would tell me every now and then when i talk to her on the phone. she loves it."

whether he was selected to the AL squad or not, Michael was grateful for all the fan support. "it's very much appreciated. hopefully, they know all the hard work it took to come back. i know they heard about it, but i'm just thankful, blessed and appreciative that i'm playing baseball again."

"i know how much our fans think of him," Terry Francona shared. "sometimes you see, when teams play deeper into October, you get more national attention. but he was hurt. i think it's good to see that it seems like baseball fans are respecting what he's done. i think we're all thrilled about it."

Zack Meisel's cleveland.com article also uncovered how, in typical Michael fashion, he kept his focus on playing for his team and didn't worry about the All Star Game OF standings. "if you start thinking about outside distractions, i think it takes away that little second when you should be preparing on the field or in the locker room."

once Michael learned today that he had in fact made the AL team, he remained grateful. the following is from Paul Hoynes' article on cleveland.com, Bastian's blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, and a cleveland.com youtube video.

"i'm very appreciative. getting voted in by your peers means a lot. i'm very happy. i'm blessed to be going.

"hopefully, people know how hard i worked to get back. it wasn't an easy road. two shoulder surgeries. not knowing whether you're going to be able to play again. to be able to represent at the All Star Game, represent the Cleveland Indians, it means a lot of hard work paid off."

"she'll be very happy," when asked how pleased his mom will be about him making the team. "she's one of my biggest fans. she loves when i'm out there playing baseball. i talk to her almost every day. she'll be very happy, i can't wait to tell her."

as for Michael's reaction to the news? "just happy. happy, blessed, appreciative more than anything, i said that last night, but very appreciative of this opportunity."

was there ever a time when he didn't think he'd make it back? "a time? months. absolutely. if anybody has major surgery, they'll tell you there's a lot of rough nights, a lot of rough days, a lot of rough weeks, months at times. i'm coming off two shoulder surgeries. the first one didn't work out, so i had to do it again. you're just trying to keep a positive attitude and making sure that you're doing the right things that are necessary, but nothing was guaranteed. it was a lot of hard work."

Francona was just as thrilled for Michael. from Hoynsie's article and a video on cleveland.com's youtube channel, he proclaimed, "i think it shows his reputation and the respect he gets throughout the league. on so many levels, it's such a good story. it was probably the one guy where, i try not to get emotional out there cause i don't want to embarrass myself, but because i know what he went through... and i don't think he needs vindication or whatever, but boy, what a, what a nice honor. and you talk about somebody who's deserving. all last year when we were on that playoff run, he was back in the training room doing his stuff. that's not real glamorous to do. he stayed there during the winter and now he gets to represent the Indians as an All Star. that's, that's incredible."

Lindor had some kind words about Michael's selection as well. "it's very special," he expressed in a cleveland.com youtube video. "seeing him working day in and day out and having him next to me over there, it's gonna be fun. i'm gonna be following him, i'll probably be talking to him the whole entire time. and just enjoying this experience with him. he deserves it as well, working very hard after two shoulder surgeries and being out for a year and a half, it shows how good of a player he is."

so who else made the 2017 AL All Star team from the Cleveland Indians? Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber, and Andrew Miller will be going to Miami not only with Michael, but also Tribe manager Terry Francona and the Indians' coaching staff because Tito is this year's AL team skipper!

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter

Ramirez was the only Indian named as a starter. this will also be his first time playing in an All Star Game. meanwhile, Lindor, Kluber, and Miller, like Michael, are all going to the ASG for the second time in their careers. Lindor and Miller made the team via the players ballot and Kluber was chosen by the Commissioner's office. congrats guys!

the full list of 2017 All Star rosters can be found here. while the All Star Game no longer determines who gets home field advantage in the World Series, the winning team gets to split a monetary sum of $640,000, or $20,000 per player.💰 go American League!

so congratulations Michael on your second All Star nod! you truly deserve it! good luck, have fun, and please don't get hurt!😳 truth be told, he could have probably used the four days of rest at the break to ensure his ankle remains strong and give his body a breather. then again, he just had almost two full weeks off and this is quite the honor to be selected for the ASG. so i think he'll be okay.

and i imagine he will have a lot of family there because Miami is fairly close to where he's from/lives during the offseason so he should have a pretty big cheering section. (just as long as Francona plays him at some point, that is.😉)


if you have any thoughts about who made it and who didn't make it, whether from the Indians or other teams, or how the selection process should be done in the future, leave a comment below!

thank you to everyone who voted for Michael this year and to those who voted from reading my blog!

i will be tweeting everything that i find out about Michael's experience at the ASG, so make sure you're following me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 so you don't miss anything. once the game is over, i will also be posting a blog recounting Michael's at bats and final numbers for the game, along with sharing any photos and interviews that make their way online. if you'd like to be notified by email when that blog (or any other blog i write) goes up, you can join my subscription list by entering your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the right side of this page.

and in case you want to read about the first time Michael made the All Star team in 2014, you can check out the blog i wrote detailing his experience and performance there here.


EDIT: on July 3, the Angels announced on twitter that Trout is not going to be able to participate in this year's Midsummer Classic. a few hours after that breaking news, Mookie Betts was named as the replacement starter on MLB's twitter. and Jeff Fletcher confirmed that Betts was the highest vote getter of the remaining OFs who weren't already starting on the player ballot.

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