|screenshot cropped from a video on m.mlb.com|
host Brian Kenny was once again joined by analyst Eric Byrnes to reveal the Top 10 LFs presently in baseball going into the 2018 season, as determined by
MLB Network's The Shredder. if you don't know, The Shredder is an analytic methodology that operates without emotion or bias. its rankings take into account a player's performance over the last two seasons, a number of offensive and defensive metrics, advanced Statcast data, traditional numbers, and analysis by the MLB Network research team, as well as a player's projected performance for the upcoming season.
before the show even began, MLB Network posted a video snippet on twitter shortly after the noon hour, noting which left fielders didn't make The Shredder's Top 10. sadly, Michael was the first player named who "just missed."😲 wow. that was a spoiler alert i was not at all prepared for. actually, i was quite stunned to be perfectly honest.
so who did make the list then? here is The Shredder's complete Top 10 LF list going into 2018:
1. Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals
2. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
3. Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels
4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
5. Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
6. Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
7. Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
8. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox
9. Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros
10. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
as you can see, the Top 10 contains left fielders from both the American League and National League. with so many players and so little spots, not everyone can make it. therefore, baseball analysts and fans usually disagree with The Shredder in some capacity. on the contrary, the debates that result from this can be very interesting and informative.
so what say you? do you think The Shredder got it right with this Top 10 or were there major omissions? and what about the rankings? should anyone have been higher or lower? leave all your thoughts in a comment below!
MLB Network also had special guest Bill James, aka the Godfather of baseball analytics, sabermetric pioneer, and the Boston Red Sox's Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations, in studio to share his Top 10 list. he did not rank Michael either (but did rank him last year at #9).
in addition, there was a segment in the second half of the show with a three-man sabermetric superpanel, who all broke down their Top 10 left fielders. normally, Bill is a part of this along with Vince Gennaro (SABR President) and Mike Petriello (baseball analyst, MLB.com), but this time Bill spoke separately and Ben Lindbergh (author, theringer.com) was included as the third member of the panel. Vince ranked Michael at #5 (compared to #10 last year), while neither Mike nor Ben ranked Michael anywhere. Vince really likes Michael's pedigree and referred to him as a "solid and consistent player when he's on the field." Vince disclosed there's a belief that his ankle surgery is not going to be a big issue and proclaimed, "if Michael plays in 140 games or more, i expect big things for him." he also stated that if Michael can play a full season, he will rise back up the list.👍
another list featured on the program came from the fan vote. for the second year in a row, fans were able to make their voices heard by tweeting the name of the player they felt was the best left fielder in baseball and using the #Top10RightNow hashtag. if i had more than one twitter account (like i have more than one email😉), i would have voted for Michael many, many more times. fans had the option to vote on MLB Network's facebook and instagram pages, too.
|photo courtesy of @MLBNetwork on twitter|
this year, Michael wasn't ranked (versus being #3 in 2017). in this case, the no-rank might not have been as simple as he hasn't played much recently because, unfortunately, the weekend that this fan vote took place was during Tribe Fest. that definitely put Michael at a disadvantage, as most Indians fans were too preoccupied to vote.😞
of course Brian and Eric both compiled their own Top 10 lists as well. right at the conclusion of the show, we learned that Michael was not on either's list. Brian did rank him #6 last year, however. Eric is very big on being on the field and playing, so that was his reasoning for not including Michael.
this is the first year since 2014 that Michael was not ranked by The Shredder on the Top 10 LF list. to compare, let's take a look at where Michael ranked in The Shredder's previous four lists:
going into 2017, Michael was #5.
going into 2016, Michael was #1.
going into 2015, Michael was #3.
going into 2014, Michael was not ranked.
now it's time for me to express my thoughts. most people were confused when Michael ranked 5th last year after playing a measly 11 games in 2016. now, after playing 90 games in 2017, The Shredder leaves him off the list. i expected Michael to at least rank somewhere going into 2018, but i'm going to get into precisely why he didn't.😕
like i indicated at the top of this post, MLBN's Top 10 is based on a player's numbers from their previous two seasons and their projected stats for the upcoming season. well, Michael's stats for last season were pretty good when you consider that he did miss 72 regular season games. he was way more productive in 2017 than in 2016, that's for sure. but his 2016 campaign was practically non-existent. combine that with another non-full season and you don't get very many stats overall. i admit, i did not know that these lists assessed the past two seasons; i always thought it was merely the one most recent. so then, a year ago, Michael's amazing 2015 season was the main factor that got him up to #5, despite his absentee 2016 season.
as for the other half of the Top 10 criteria, Michael's projected stats for 2018 have him playing significantly less than a full season once again (350 at bats, per baseball-reference.com), which likely worked against him here. so the explanation for the non-ranking is that after two straight seasons of not playing full years due to injuries and the current uncertainties surrounding Michael's ability to play a complete season, The Shredder just couldn't put Michael on the list. it's the same reason the rest of the guys gave for not ranking Brant. but it still sucks.😞
i'm disappointed that Michael is no longer being recognized as one of the best LF in the game. aside from the two injury-riddled seasons, Michael's been the most consistent hitter for the Indians since 2012. remember, he had the highest batting average of all the qualifying Tribe players from 2012-2015. and outside of Cleveland, when he's healthy, he is one of the best in the league. so unlike The Shredder and other people who've seemingly stopped believing in Michael, i have faith that he will fully recover from his right ankle surgery, play the majority of 2018, and make one hell of a comeback.😇
at the end of the day, i really don't care what The Shredder, analysts, or haters think. whether Michael's ranked or not, those predictions are not fact. Michael can play a full season if he does indeed heal from surgery. and if he does that, then there's no reason he can't be the best Left Fielder in the game and also become a three-time All Star. so while i don't endorse this Top 10, i'm confident that, come September 30, it's gonna look mighty inaccurate. prove 'em wrong, Brant!😁🖕
soon after all the Top 10s have aired, MLB Network will unveil their Top 100 Players Right Now in a series of countdown shows in February. there's no telling where Michael will rank on that, if he even ranks at all, which he may not. what do you think? let me know in a comment below!
man, i'm 0-for-2 on posting happy Brantley blogs in 2018 so far lol i'm sorry guys.
keep following me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 for news and updates on Michael's recovery from right ankle surgery. he was not at Tribe Fest last Saturday due to a family conflict, but Chris Antonetti and Terry Francona provided some information on his status. that will be included in my fast approaching January News compilation blog.😉
FYI: Michael is currently a little over three months removed from his surgery. he was originally given a four- to five-month recovery timetable. once he reports to spring training on February 18, he'll be four months out and should at least be able to do some baseball activities that do not require full running.
ICYMI: here's the last blog i posted with news and ankle updates:
Brantley News & Ankle Updates from December 2017
did you know? i have a mailing list if you would like to receive notifications every time i post new blogs. simply enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of this page to join and you'll be part of the crew!📧
and don't forget, i will be #CelebratingMichaelBrantley and his career with the Indians every Monday during the 2018 season. so make sure you are following my twitter to see what particular moments i spotlight, starting on April 2.🎉