Sunday, September 30, 2018

Brantley's September 2018 #s

hello, Brantley fans! and welcome to the last regular season monthly blog about our boy! thank you to everyone who read my previous Brantley's August 2018 #s and Brantley's 2018 #s Through August blogs! i'm so grateful that you took time out of your day to come to my site and catch up on All Things Brantley!✋

now let me reveal which countries visited my blogspot the most over this past month. the #1 viewers came from... the United States!πŸ₯‡ the 2nd largest audience resided in... Ukraine!πŸ₯ˆ and rounding out the Top 3 in September is... Spain!πŸ₯‰ hello!πŸ‘‹ and wow! it is so humbling to see that Michael has amazing fans all over the world!🌐 you guys rock!πŸ‘Š

quick note: i have a new schedule regarding posts coming up before and during the postseason. make sure to read all the way to the end of this post for information about what to expect from here on out!

okay, ready to see how Michael did in September? let's go!


September Overview

this September very well could have been Michael's final regular season month as an Indian.
(as much as i've been aware of this, it definitely hasn't fully hit me yet😟) if it was, well, he did not go quietly! he had another positive month overall, highlighted by several multi-hit games, him participating and contributing in a big way in the AL Central Division clinch game, hitting his second walk-off of the year, scoring a career high 14 runs in September, and ending the year on a 9-game hitting streak! his only negatives were that he had a low amount of RBI for the month, due to his uncharacteristic difficulties batting with runners on base, and he also struck out more than his norm.

Michael, along with some of his teammates, received several days off this month to get a little extra rest before the start of playoffs. while he did have minor left ankle soreness and a bruised right calf after fouling a couple of balls off himself during a couple of games, Michael's health as a whole was never an issue. (take that haters!) you can read up on more of this in the following subsequent sections: Days Off In Preparation For October and First (Minor) Injuries Of the Season.

i also want to point out how Michael absolutely owned left-handed pitching this month. it was like a whole 'nother Michael after how he'd performed against them for a large portion of the year (aka, poorly). so i was very happy to see him close out his 2018 campaign with big success when facing lefties. this is the full package Michael Brantley that we're used to.πŸ‘πŸ‘

in Michael's first 11 games between September 1-15, he bat .350 (14-for-40) with two doubles, two home runs, three RBI, seven runs, five walks, two stolen bases (1- 2nd, 1 - 3rd), and eight strikeouts. in his final 11 games between September 18-30, he bat .333 (15-for-45) with one double, one home run, three RBI, seven runs, two walks, two hit by pitches, two stolen bases (2nd), and eight strikeouts. overall, Michael had a September batting average of .341.

now the really exciting part. for the season, Michael's 2018 batting average was .309, six points higher than it was at the end of August. that means Michael finished with the highest batting average on the team out of all the qualifying players. not only that, but Michael has now held the highest BA on the Indians in the last five consecutive seasons that he was a qualifying player. Michael was not a qualifier in 2016 and 2017, so his record is indeed intact!πŸ˜‰πŸ˜€πŸ‘

the month began with the Indians in the middle of a nine-game homestand. only five games were played in September--two versus the Tampa Bay Rays and three versus the Kansas City Royals. while facing Rays pitchers he'd never seen before, he managed to go 3-for-8 with one double, two stolen bases, and one run. all of his hits also came against left-handers, breaking the 0-for-7 skid he was in. on the flip side though, he did strike out swinging three times... then when playing the Royals, Michael was just 2-for-8 with one run (and one strikeout swinging) in only two games because Terry Francona gave him the middle game off. and so Michael's time at home concluded with a 5-for-16 showing.

next on the Tribe's schedule was seven straight road games, all on astroturf. blah. they had a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays before traveling down to Florida to face the Rays again. Michael ended up getting the first game of the trip off because he was nursing a bruised left ankle after fouling a pitch off the top of his foot the day before. he didn't start the second game, but did come in in extra innings to pinch hit. overall, he played in three games (two complete) and went 4-for-9 against the Blue Jays with one home run, two RBI, and two walks. then against the Rays, Michael put up a 3-for-8 showing with one double, one run, and one walk in two of the three contests, getting the finale off partially because of the turf, and partially to pair it with the team's off day the next day. fun fact: prior to this series, the last time Michael was on the active roster and played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg was July 2, 2015! for the trip, Michael did very well, collecting 7 hits in 17 at bats.

following the off day, the Indians had their final homestand of the season, featuring nine games over 10 days. first up, a three-game set with the Detroit Tigers. Michael got the finale game off because it was "hangover day," or, the day after the Tribe clinched the AL Central Division and all the normal starters were rewarded with a day off. so Michael appeared in just two of the games and went 2-for-7 with one home run, one RBI, three runs, and 2 walks. the Indians had the following day off as well, their last scheduled day off before the end of the regular season.

then the Tribe played three games versus the Chicago White Sox and three versus the Boston Red Sox. Michael had some difficulty in the first two contests with the ChiSox, but did well enough in the third to give him a 4-for-14 series with one home run, one RBI, two runs, and one stolen base (2nd). then he had at least one hit in each game with the BoSox (two of which went to extra innings), going 6-for-15 with one RBI, two runs, and one hit by pitch. all of his hits were singles, but one was of the utmost importance, as it represented a walk-off win, giving Michael two walk-off hits this season! for Michael's last homestand at Progressive Field, he went 12-for-36.

because the third game with Boston was at night and went 11 innings, it was a late flight off to Chicago. the final road trip consisted of seven games--three games with the Chicago White Sox and four with the Kansas City Royals. Michael received the first game off, before he put together a 2-for-5 showing with one double, one RBI, two runs, and two walks against the White Sox in the other two. he did come out of the middle game early, however, because he's fouled a pitch off his right calf and it got stiff, so Tito pulled him as a precaution. he played the following day so clearly it wasn't serious. then, in the finale series of 2018 with the Royals, Michael again got the first contest off. then, in what could have been his last three regular season games as a Cleveland Indian, he was 3-for-11 with one run, one hit by pitch, and one stolen base (2nd). unfortunately, he also had one strikeout in each game as well, though the last was a wrongly called strike 3. he actually ended the season with five strikeouts in his final four games. his total line for the road trip read as 5-for-16.

so aside from some struggles in a few specific areas (check my Areas Of Concern section for more details), Michael had a typical, Michael Brantley type of month. while some players seemed to be losing steam and getting tired out, Brant was pretty consistent at getting on base in September and all-in-all had one of his better months of his 2018 campaign--his final with the Tribe ahead of free agency.😞

if this really was it, i'm glad Michael did as well as he did and ended the year on a high note. i am so proud of what Michael was able to accomplish, i'm happy that he proved all the doubters wrong, and that he put together one hell of a comeback season! i can't wait now to see what he does next in the playoffs! hopefully the Indians can go far, so he can get a chance to actually play in an American League Championship Series and World Series as an active player!πŸ™

are you happy with Michael's performance in September? let me know in a comment below!


Days Off In Preparation For October

Terry Francona gave Michael the fourth game of September off, which just happened to be against left-hander Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals. unlike some players who were trying, Michael started the month 4-for-12. however, it being September and with the playoffs are coming up, Tito made it known that his regulars would be getting rest days. "yeah, it's really nice (to have Brantley back) and that's through hard work and we also want to keep an eye on him," the manager informed in Paul Hoynes' article on cleveland.com. "the object is whoever plays, we're supposed to win and do whatever we can (to win) and we will. but i'm also going to make sure we keep guys, guys who have a lot of at-bats, fresh."

Michael was also given the afternoon game on September 12 versus the Tampa Bay Rays off. besides the fact that this was a day game after a night game, i looked at it two ways: the team had off on the 13th, so this gave Michael two days of rest, and also, Michael had just played four straight games on astroturf, and the day off was good for him because of that. nevermind that the opposing lefty pitcher was someone Michael had recently had success against in their previous series against the Rays, this rest was more important.

another rest day came for Michael on September 16, the day after the Indians clinched the AL Central. couple that with an off day on September 17, and Michael being pulled early from the game on September 15 due to a blowout, and Michael had a nice mini-break mid-month.

"it's perfect," Tito contended in Jordan Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians. "this is exactly how i would have drawn it up. the guys that have played pretty much every day get today and tomorrow. then, we can come back and it gives us 13 games to kick it back in and get prepared for the next step."

would the division clinch mean Michael would be getting most of the rest of the season off? not according to Francona. from Joe Noga's cleveland.com article, the skipper said he would only sit players when they need it, so as not to remove them too much from their regular routines. 

Michael's next off day came on September 24. the Indians had just played three extra innings games in four days, the last of which came on a travel night, so Tito gave Michael and a few other regulars the day to rest.

lastly, Michael, along with several other regular players, was on the bench again for the game on September 27, likely due to a late night flight coming into Kansas City for the final series of the 2018 campaign. "i'm just trying to balance guys playing," Francona admitted in an article on mlb.com/indians by Bastian. "i know people are paying to watch these games. i don't ever want it to feel like there's disrespect. so we try to put enough out there and do it at the right time."


First (Minor) Injuries Of the Season

Michael's name wasn't in the lineup on September 6, and having just gotten a day off on September 4, that was very suspicious. turns out, Michael was dealing with a stiff left foot after fouling a ball off it in the bottom of the 3rd inning the previous day. "he hit that ball off the top of his foot yesterday," Terry Francona explained in Aaron Rose's article on mlb.com/indians. "he finished off the game OK, but he got on the flight and it got stiff, so we'll give him tonight [off] to kind of let the trainers do their stuff, but he'll be fine."

worry ensued when Michael was not in the lineup for the September 7 game either. "i'm probably being a little overprotective," Tito admitted in Rose's mlb.com/indians article. "i think it's probably the prudent thing to do." also on the WTAM 1100 radio broadcast, Tom Hamilton told listeners that Francona claimed, "the foot is fine, just give him one more [night off]."

then during the injury report in top of the 5th inning, Jim Rosenhaus shared that keeping Michael out was precautionary, that he did good work pregame, and Francona elected to keep him off the astroturf. Paul Hoynes wrote that Michael took batting practice on the field in his cleveland.com article as well, but clarified that it was actually a bruised left ankle. Andre Knott tweeted it was an ankle injury, too. clearly it wasn't that big a deal because Michael did end up pinch hitting in the top of the 10th inning.

if that wasn't enough of a scare, Michael fouled another ball off himself, his right calf specifically, in the game against the Chicago White Sox on September 25. it happened in the top of the 4th inning on the final pitch of the AB before he ground out to short to end the inning. Francona opted to remove him as a precaution for the bottom of the 6th inning and Michael was diagnosed with a right calf contusion (bruise).

"he fouled that ball off his calf and he was just getting a little stiff," Tito explained in his postgame presser, provided by FOX Sports Ohio on youtube. "he's fine."


Michael Celebrates the Division Clinch!

on September 15, the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers and, as a result, they clinched the American League Central Division! it's the third year in a row now that the Tribe has claimed the title, but for Michael, it was the first time he was able to fully participate in the locker room champagne celebration afterwards without nursing an injury!πŸΎπŸš«πŸ€•πŸ˜€

here are some photos of Michael on the field after the win with his DEFEND TRIBE TOWN t-shirt on as he congratulated and got congratulations from his teammates:

photo courtesy of David Dermer via Associated Press
photo courtesy of David Maxwell via Getty Images
photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via cleveland.com
photo courtesy of David Maxwell via Getty Images

when the on-field celebrating wound down, Michael was picked, along with Josh Tomlin, to do the postgame interview for SportsTime Ohio with in-game reporter Andre Knott. i transcribed it from SportsTime Ohio's twitter video.

after Michael put on his 2018 postseason cap, he answered what it means to win this with Josh, with everything the guys have been through. "we've been through a lot. um, you know, from day one, i feel like, you know, we came up together. uh, we, you know, this never gets old. it's a lot of hard work that goes into it. uh, it's gonna be a great night tonight, it's a great honor to be with these guys and to be out here and play with these guys."

when Knott asked Tomlin how happy he is for Michael, he replied, "unbelievably happy. we all know what kind of player he can be. he battled some health issues early on in his career, here lately, but i mean he's had a great couple years here the past couple years and, he's the heart and soul of this team. Tito talks about it all the time. there's no doubt about it."

Knott next inquired what it means to have Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, two MVP candidates who look up to him and watching how he goes through every at bat, thinking so much of him and loving playing with him. "yeah, i just appreciate them. they come in to work every day ready to play, excited to play, they bring the energy every day. um, you know, they're special players. i'm honored to play with them so, uh, me, i just try to stay out of their way i guess and try to help 'em out any way i can for the most part."

what does this year mean to him after everything he's went through and everything he's been through? "it means a lot just to be back in a Cleveland uniform. um, not knowing when i was gonna be back here to have this special moment with my family, Tomlin, my teammates, uh, the upper management for believing in me that i was gonna come back and play at a high level. uh, i can't thank them enough. and to these fans, just thank them for always having my support. i know it always wasn't great, but at the same time, this is what we work so hard for, these moments like this."

once inside the clubhouse, all the guys began popping bottles and spraying champagne, drinking and dumping beers on one another. in the midst of all the chaos, Michael did some more interviews with different media members. i first heard him speak with Jim Rosenhaus on WTAM 1100, but i only got some of what was said. "it's a very special day. it's well-deserved by everyone in this locker room and this organization and i'm glad to be a part of it." when asked what makes this team special, Michael replied, "the way that we compete every day. we come to the ballpark with a positive attitude every day. ...it's been a great ride and i'm just glad to be a part of it."

in Jordan Bastian's postgame article on mlb.com/indians, Michael stated, "i'm savoring every moment of this. this never gets old to me. this is a lot of hard work that this group has put in to get to this point. it's all well-deserved, well-earned, and i'm glad to be a part of it."

in regards to ownership and the front office, "they've set out for one goal, just as we have as players, and i think it's going to be something special," Michael deduced in an article on ohio.com from Ryan Lewis. "this is step one of step three and four, but at the same time, you've got to enjoy these moments and embrace these moments."

"you understand how hard everybody worked to get here," Michael continued in Chris Assenheimer's chroniclet.com article. "this is a group effort all the way around and i'm glad to be a part of it. we're trying to build something special here, and i think we're doing it."

at one point while Michael was talking to reporters, Tomlin snuck up behind him and poured a beer on his head, according to Paul Hoynes' article on cleveland.com. but Michael never moved, he just smiled. "i love it. i'm savoring every moment of this. this never gets old to me.

"all you can ask for is one chance, one moment, and make sure you embrace it. that we play as a team, that we got out there and enjoy it, and make sure we got out there and handle our business."

the reality of the moment was not lost on a trio of veterans, including Michael, Jason Kipnis, and Yan Gomes, who realized that this could be the final season all three of them are on the same team. so they took a minute to huddle together and reflect on the experience.

photo courtesy of @H_Grove on twitter

for more pictures and quotes from other Indians players about the clinch, go ahead and check out my The Indians Are the 2018 AL Central Division Champions! blog.


Where's Brantley Batting? Always 2nd

coming into September, the more-often-than-not Top 5 of the batting order looked like this: Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yonder Alonso. but when Josh Donaldson was activated on September 11, he took over the 5th spot and pushed Alonso back to 6th. so on the days Donaldson was playing, the regular three behind Brant then became Ramirez, Encarnacion, and Donaldson. well, most of the time... once when a lefty was on the mound and Encarnacion was out, Michael had Ramirez, Yandy Diaz, and Donaldson following him in the lineup.

the lineup also saw its fair share of changes when Terry Francona opted to give some of his players days off this month to rest ahead of the playoffs. so things were more discombobulated than we're used to.

Michael, however, maintained his place in the order, batting 2nd in every game he started. when he got one at bat in a game as a pinch hitter though, he bat 6th.

the guys who followed Michael in the 3-5 spots this month include Ramirez, Encarnacion, Alonso, Diaz, Donaldson. Diaz actually bat as high up in the order as 3rd (on Ramirez's day off), but also saw time in the cleanup spot and 5 hole against a lefty. for someone who doesn't have a whole lot of Major League experience, that speaks volumes as to what the team thinks of him and how they view his potential.

in September, Michael reached base a total of 41 times via hits, walks, hit by pitches, fielding errors, forceouts, and passed balls (after striking out). he scored 14 runs for the month, 3 of which came from his own home runs. so he was driven in by others 11 times and was left stranded 24 times. (he hit a walk-off single once--when he technically was not stranded even though he reached, and lifted for a pinch runner twice, so i had to subtract three from the total count here.) it's funny because Michael did set a career high with those 14 runs scored, but i still feel he was left on base too much. and with Ramirez really struggling to get hits behind him, you could say he was a big part of the issue here.

is this the lineup you want to see Terry Francona roll out during the playoffs? if not, leave your preferred 1 though 9 in a comment!


Areas Of Concern

no player is perfect and Michael definitely has some areas that could use improvement, so let's check 'em out!

this is becoming commonplace now but Michael did not do well in September with RISP. he had an 0-for-7 slump in eight plate appearances going until September 21, when he got his second overall hit with RISP for the month. specifically, he not only had trouble with 2 outs, as per ush, but also with 1 out, where he was 0-for-5 for the month. oof.

to my surprise, Michael struggled with runners on base in general this month. he was in an 0-for-11 skid in 12 plate appearances at one point between September 10 and September 20. then he went on another 0-fer to finish out the year, going 0-for-8 in nine PA. yikes.

lamentably, i have to include strikeouts here. Michael's contact rate was lower than usual in September due to the increased number of Ks he racked up. he struck out in each his last four games of 2018 with five total in that time span. he really had a tough time against certain pitchers and couldn't lay off balls low and outside the strike zone. i can't even tell you how many balls he swung and missed at, either because of their deception or because he failed to make an adjustment at the plate. i can't lie, it was a bummer to see.

did you have any concerns that i didn't mention? sound off in the comments!


September Team Batting Winner

many regulars were given ample days off to rest this month in preparation for the playoffs, yet there were still several qualifying players in September.

for the second straight month, i'm happy to report that the player who had the highest September batting average out of all the qualifiers on the team was Michael Brantley with his .341 BA! the next closest average was .294, owned by Edwin Encarnacion.

previous monthly batting average winners:
March/April - Jose Ramirez (.267)
May - Francisco Lindor (.373)
June - Jose Ramirez (.267) 
July - Jose Ramirez (.322)
August - Michael Brantley (.333)


Team Leads & Career Highs

in September, Michael led the team with 29 hits, 23 singles, .341 batting average, .400 OBP, and .882 OPS. 

he was 2nd on the team with 41 total bases. he was also tied for the 2nd least amount of strikeouts among qualifying players with 16.

in addition, he was 3rd with 14 runs and .482 SLG. he was tied for 3rd with 85 at bats.

he led the outfielders with 35 putouts and 172.2 innings. he was tied for 1st with 1 assist and 3rd with 21 games played.

when consulting with my documentation of Michael's past numbers for this month, i found that Michael set careers high for himself in September with 14 runs and 2 hit by pitches.


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

in September, Michael hit 3 home runs. i admit, i was greedy and hoped he would hit enough to give him a total of 20 for the season, but that's okay. for not being a home run hitter, i really can't complain. Francisco Lindor led the team with a whopping 9 homers this month. Jason Kipnis hit 5 and Yan Gomes hit 4. Michael's 3 were tied for 4th most along with Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion.

Michael finished this month with 6 RBI vs. 34 men left on base. that's bad, not gonna lie. he had many chances to bump his his RBI total for the year and at least get over the 80-mark, but he had difficulty with runners on base and in scoring position, the complete opposite of August, reverting back to some mid-season struggles. so it's not surprising that he stranded so many guys and didn't drive many in. Kipnis had the most ribbies with 19! Encarnacion was 2nd with 15 and Lindor was 3rd with 14. Jose Ramirez had 12 while Melky Cabrera and Roberto Perez had 11. Michael's 6 ranked 11th on the team!

time for Michael's latest HR:RBI ratio. two of Michael's home runs were solo shots and the other was a 2-run bomb. therefore, 33.3% of his 6 RBI in September came from his solo homers, while 66.7% of his 6 RBI came from all 3 of his home runs. this is extremely rare, where if Michael didn't hit a home run, then he really wasn't acquiring RBIs. but again, he really struggled with men on base this month so that's your explanation here.

Michael's K rate in September was 16.8% (16 K/95 PA). he struck out once every 5.9 plate appearances. ouch. worst strikeout rate of any month this season, by far.

according to a cleveland.com article by Joe Noga on September 13, Michael led all of baseball with a 4.1% swinging strike percentage, per Fangraphs, for the year at that time.

as for the month, after Michael played 10 games in September, he'd already tallied eight strikeouts (his total from August, when he played in 26 games). then in his last 10 games of September, he racked up another eight Ks. he looked to be falling into some old, bad habits, swinging at a lot of balls outside the strike zone. it's definitely not used to what we've come to expect from Michael.

in September, Michael had 25 groundouts, 7 flyouts, 5 lineouts, and 3 pop outs. so despite the higher K rate, he still overall was making more contact with the ball than not when getting himself out. the grounders remained prevalent over the fly balls, line drives, and pop ups. nothing new here.

(reminder: the sortable player stats section on indians.com denotes outs differently from me in four distinctive ways. first, despite the site specifically stating that the flyouts total does NOT include line drives, it absolutely does. (it also includes pop outs.) second, when Michael grounds into a double play, that is counted as two groundouts on the site, due to two outs being recorded in an inning. however, in my personal documentation, i only count a GIDP as one out, because for Michael, it is only one out/one at bat/an 0-for-1 in his game line. and third & fourth, likewise with the GIDPs, i do not count sac flies as flyouts or sac bunts as groundouts here. even though they are outs in a game [a sac fly is even counted in a slump!], they don't count against Michael in his game line because sac flies and sac bunts are considered plate appearances and not at bats.)


Streaks & Situational Statistics

Michael had a hit in 19 of the 22 games he played in September and reached base safely in 21 games. he had 3 hitless games, but still reached base in 2 of them. Michael had 8 multi-hit games, 2 three+ hit games, and 1 multi-RBI game. he had at least 1 RBI in 5 games. he also had 2 go-ahead hits and 2 go-ahead RBI this month. the Indians were 11-11 in games that Michael played in and 3-3 in the games he sat out/missed.

Michael has an active 9-game hitting streak on the road between September 8-30. it spans over September 8-11, September 25-26, and September 28-30.

Michael has an active 9-game on-base streak on the road between September 8-30 as well.

Michael has an active 9-game hitting streak between September 20-30. it spans over September 20-23, September 25-26, and September 28-30.
 
Michael has an active 9-game on-base streak between September 20-30 as well.

when he begins his 2019 season, with whichever team he's with then, these streaks could continue should he get on base in some capacity.

in September, Michael bat .311 (14-for-45) against right-handed pitchers and .375 (15-for-40) against left-handed pitchers. well, that was a fantastic performance against southpaws this month. and the Indians sure did face a lot of lefties so it's definitely not a small sample size. Michael was on a roll up until his last four or five games, but it's like he just turned on a switch this month when it came to hitting lefties. i can't believe how he excelled against them after having such difficulty for months prior. outstanding.

Michael bat .327 (17-for-52) with 3 RBI in 12 of the 14 games at home. he hit safely in 10 of the 12 home games he played in and safely got on base in all 12 of them. he was hitless in 2 home games, but still reached base in both of them. he had at least 1 RBI in 3 home games.

Michael bat .364 (12-for-33) with 3 RBI in 10 of the 14 games away from Progressive Field. he hit safely in 9 of the 10 road games he played in and safely reached base in 9 of them. he was hitless in 1 road game and did not reach base in it. he had at least 1 RBI in 2 road games. this was another exceptional performance on the road this month and i'm happy that Michael was able to turn his troubles around and get back to hitting no matter where he was playing.

Michael hit .176 (3-for-17) with runners in scoring position, producing 2 RBI in September. breaking it down, he hit .333 (2-for-6) with RISP and 0 outs, .000 (0-for-5) with RISP and 1 out, and .167 (1-for-6) with RISP and 2 outs. oh boy was this bad. his 0-for-7 slump in eight PA didn't help things. he also ended the month 0-for-4 with RISP so... not good.

with 2 outs in an inning, Michael bat .300 (6-for-20). he had 1 double, 2 walks, and 1 hit by pitch. nice improvement here.

additionally, he bat .235 (8-for-34) with 4 RBI with runners on base and .500 (1-for-2) with 2 RBI with the bases loaded. again, Michael had a big problem batting with guys on base, no matter what base they were at and it was tough to watch. he was a mere 3-for-25 in his last 27 plate appearances this month. within that, even worse, he concluded September on an 0-for-8 skid in nine plate appearances. i hope he does better than this in the playoffs...

Michael also bat .412 (21-for-51) with the bases empty. he hit 2 doubles and 2 home runs, giving him 2 RBI. he totaled 6 walks, 1 hit by pitch, and 12 strikeouts swinging as well. so the disparity is obvious; Michael was much more reliable when nobody was on base this month, sadly.

furthermore, Michael had a 0.8 fWAR (wins above replacement), a 140 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus--the ability to create runs compared to the league average), and a 0.8 BsR (baserunning runs above average with stolen bases and caught stealings) in September. his BsR ranked 1st (wow!), his WAR ranked 3rd, and his wRC+ ranked 4th among eight total qualifying American League left fielders. [these stats all came courtesy of fangraphs.com.]


Versus AL Central Division Teams

vs. the Detroit Tigers, Michael bat .286 (2-for-7) in 2 of 3 home games in September. (he had 1 scheduled day off during the series--the day after the Indians clinched the division.) the Indians went 1-1 in the games he played in and lost the game he did not play in. overall, Michael had 1 single and 1 extra base hit--a home run, 1 RBI, 3 runs, 2 walks, 1 first at bat hit, and 5 total bases. he also reached base on 1 forceout, grounded into 1 double play, had 2 strikeouts (1 looking, 1 swinging), and left 4 men on base. furthermore, he had a .444 OBP, .714 SLG, and 1.159 OPS. in left field, Michael recorded 2 putouts while playing 14 innings, but only 1 complete game. he was subbed out defensively after 5 innings in 1 game because the Indians were winning a blowout. he probably would have gotten another hit or two had he played in the finale game, as opposed to getting it off because it was the day after the Indians clinched the AL Central.

vs. the Chicago White Sox, Michael bat .316 (6-for-19) in 5 of 6 games--3 at home and 2 of the 3 on the road--in September. (he had 1 scheduled day off during the road series.) the Indians went 3-2 in the games he played in and won the game he did not play in. overall, Michael had 4 singles and 2 extra base hits, including 1 double and 1 home run, as well as 2 RBI, 1 sac fly, 4 runs, 2 walks, 1 stolen base (2nd), and 10 total bases. he also reached base on 1 passed ball (after a swinging strikeout), had 4 strikeouts (2 swinging, 2 looking), and left 6 men on base. furthermore, he had a .364 OBP, .526 SLG, and .890 OPS. in left field, Michael recorded 5 putouts while playing 40 innings, but only 3 complete games. he was removed as a precaution after 5 innings in 1 game because he had fouled a ball off his right calf in an earlier at bat and it stiffened up, and he was lifted for a pinch runner in the top of the 7th inning in 1 game because the Indians were winning a blowout. typical good series for Michael against a division rival.

vs. the Kansas City Royals, Michael bat .263 (5-for-19) in 5 of 7 games--2 of the 3 at home and 3 of the 4 on the road--in September. (he had 1 scheduled day off during the home series and 1 scheduled day off during the road series.) the Indians went 3-2 in the games he played in and 1-1 in the games he did not play in. overall, Michael had 5 singles, 2 runs, 1 hit by pitch, 1 stolen base (2nd), 1 first at bat hit, and 5 total bases. he also grounded into 2 double plays, had 4 strikeouts (3 swinging, 1 looking), and left 6 men on base. furthermore, he had a .300 OBP, .263 SLG, and .563 OPS. in left field, Michael recorded 9 putouts while playing 36 innings, but only 2 complete games. he was subbed out defensively after 6 innings in 1 game because the Indians were winning a blowout, he was subbed out defensively after 6 innings in 1 game because the Indians were losing and he had played enough, and he was lifted for a pinch runner in the top of the 7th inning in 1 game because it was the final game of the year and he had played enough. not his best performance against this team, but it wasn't necessary normal for him because he got a few games off and was pulled early from some of them so therefore, he may have been "robbed" of a couple more hits. it doesn't concern me, however.

the Indians did not face the Minnesota Twins in September.


League Rankings

Michael received numerous days off in September and was subbed out defensively in several contests, but he still acquired enough plate appearances in order to be considered a qualifying player for the month. so let's see which of his numbers ranked within the Top 10 among other AL and MLB players (per mlb.mlb.com/stats and fangraphs.com).

note: a couple of NL teams played a Game 163 on October 1 (and if you remember, games played in September and October are combined into one month so i had to include that extra game within the "September" rankings even though Michael did not play in October), ultimately changing a few of Michael's rankings among players in MLB.

among qualifying left fielders in the American League, Michael ranked 1st in hits (29) and singles (23); tied for 1st in stolen bases (4); 2nd in batting average (.341); tied for 2nd in sac flies (1); 3rd in runs (14) and SLG (.482); 4th in OBP (.400) and OPS (.822); tied for 4th in hit by pitches (2) and total bases (41); 5th in plate appearances (95); 6th in at bats (85); tied for 7th in games played (22); and tied for 8th in extra base hits (6), doubles (3), and home runs (3). Michael also ranked 6th out of 8 players in strikeouts (16), making him the 3rd hardest left fielder in the AL to strike out in September. 

among qualifying outfielders in the American League, Michael was tied for 1st in singles; 4th in batting average; tied for 5th in hits and stolen bases; 7th in OBP; and tied for 9th in sac flies. plus, he was tied for 26th out of 30 players in Ks, or tied for the 5th hardest to K.

among qualifying players in the American League, Michael ranked tied for 3rd in singles, 6th in batting average, and tied 10th in stolen bases. he also ranked tied for 65th out of 80 players in strikeouts, or tied for the 16th toughest player to strike out in the AL.

among all qualifying left fielders in the Major Leagues, Michael was 1st in singles, tied for 2nd in sac flies, 3rd in batting average, 4th in hits, tied for 4th in stolen bases, 5th in OBP, tied for 5th in hit by pitches, 7th in runs, tied for 9th in total bases, and 10th in OPS. he was also tied for 16th out of 19 players in strikeouts, aka tied for the 4th hardest to K among MLB left fielders in September. 

among all qualifying outfielders in the Major Leagues, Michael ranked tied for 3rd in singles and 6th in batting average. Michael was also tied for the 10th toughest MLB outfielder to strike out this month, as he ranked tied for 50th out of 59 players in strikeouts.

among all qualifying players in the Major Leagues, Michael was tied for 7th in singles and tied for 9th in batting average. also, his strikeouts were tied for 119th out of 149, making him tied for the 31st toughest player to K in all of baseball in September.


September Standout Games, Spotlights, & Quotes

in the game versus the Tampa Bay Rays on September 1, Michael went 2-for-4. he was facing left-handed pitcher Blake Snell for the first time in his career, a guy who's brutal against left-handed hitters. and Michael was already in a slump against southpaws coming into the month. so i never expected him to get two hits off the guy lol the first came in the bottom of the 1st inning with 1 out and no score. following a 2-0 count, Michael hit a line drive single to left field, ending his 0-for-7 skid vs. lefties and getting his first hit since August 13!

during Jose Ramirez's at bat, Michael ran on the 1-2 pitch from Snell, which Ramirez swung and missed at. but Michael successfully stole 2nd base.

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

Edwin Encarnacion got on base next with a walk. then, when the count was 2-2 on Yandy Diaz, both Michael and Encarnacion pulled off a double steal as ball 3 was thrown. it was the first time Michael had successfully stolen 3rd base this season!

Michael got another hit in his next at bat in the bottom of the 2nd inning with the Indians up, 2-0, Yan Gomes at 2nd base, and 2 outs. Snell threw him a ball before Michael swung and missed at the next pitch. then, Michael hit a sharp line drive single to center field. the inning ended, however, after Gomes tried to score and was thrown out at home plate by Rays' center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

Michael struck out swinging in his third at bat versus Snell, but all-in-all, a 2-for-3 performance against him was fantastic.

after getting a little time off to rest his bruised left ankle, Michael was back in the starting lineup in the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 8 and he hit his 15th home run of the season. it took place in the top of the 5th inning with the Tribe down, 3-2, Greg Allen at 1st base, and 1 out. after a 2-1 count from right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, whom he was facing for the first time in his career this day, he hit a high fly ball to deep right-center field for a go-ahead, 2-run home run! this was his first go-ahead hit and RBI since August 11! the pitch sequence went: ball, ball, called strike, home run.

photo courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski via Getty Images
photo courtesy of @MLBBarrelAlert on twitter

per MLBBarrelAlert, Michael hit a 93.2 mph four-seamer a distance of 385 feet with a launch angle of 28 degrees and 100.3 mph exit velo.

in the top of the 7th inning against left-hander Tim Mayza, Michael got his second hit of the game. the Tribe led, 9-7, and Francisco Lindor was at 1st base when Michael sent a line drive single to left field on a 1-1 count. the pitch sequence went: ball, swinging strike, single.

for the day, Michael went 2-for-4, but also got on base with two walks, one in the top of the 1st against Reid-Foley (3-1 count, 1 out, no score) and another in the top of the 6th against RHP Mark Leiter, Jr. (full count, 1 out, 8-5 Tribe).

Michael had another multi-hit game on September 9 against the Blue Jays. he got his first base knock in the top of the 1st inning with 1 out and no score. after taking a called strike from former Indians farmhand Thomas Pannone, he hit a line drive single to left field off the lefty. he was erased when Ramirez forced him out at 2nd.

his other hit came in the last AB of the day, when he led off the top of the 8th inning with the Tribe down, 3-2. southpaw Jose Fernandez had just been summoned from the bullpen and Michael sent a line drive single to center field on a 2-1 count. the pitch sequence went: ball, called strike, ball. he was left stranded after the next three batters all struck out.

Michael's third straight multi-hit (2-for-4) game occurred against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 10. he drew a walk in his first plate appearance in the top of the 1st inning after a 3-1 count from right-hander Diego Castillo and scored the first run of the game on Encarnacion's RBI single to left field before his hits came.

with Allen at 1st base, 1 out, and the Indians behind, 4-1, in the top of the 3rd inning, Michael hit a ground ball single to left field on an 0-1 count from lefty Jalen Beeks.

then when facing Beeks again in the top of the 5th inning, this time with Lindor at 1st base, 1 out, and the Tribe down, 4-1, Michael hit a first-pitch line drive double to right field.

photo courtesy of Chris O'Meara via Associated Press

during the game versus the Detroit Tigers on September 14, a video appeared on the FOX Sports Ohio youtube channel, with Lindor talking to Andre Knott about Michael's high contact rate. "it just proves how good of a hitter he is, that's what the stat does to me. i mean, i know, i understand how good of a hitter he is, how hard he works day in and day out. to me, he's one of the top three hitters in the league. um, he does it every single year, whether he's hurt or not, he's gonna be very consistent and um, the stat you showed me.... if you throw it, he swings it. watch out.

"he doesn't waste any pitch, whether he feels good at the plate or bad. um, he seems like he's on every pitch. he's working, he's grinding, you know. uh, i personally take at bats off, you know, whether i want to or not, it's just like, i don't want to take an at bat off, it's just, next thing you know, i'm sitting in the dugout like, 'what happened?' you know? with him, it seems like, when he says, 'what happened?' it's, he knows what happened. he just, that wasn't his at bat. it's fun to watch. um, i'm fortunate to be with him since day one and uh, i'm proud of him." 

in the game, Michael went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, for his first hitless full game of the month. one of his strikeouts came via a called strike 3, giving him his first strikeout looking since August 24. this game was also the first in September in which he did not register at least one hit against a left-handed pitcher. he faced one lefty or more in six previous games and had at least one hit in each of those contests against a southpaw. the last time he didn't get a hit off a lefty came on August 29. as a whole, he'd shown a vast improvement when facing left-handers so i couldn't be too mad. i was more stunned by the number of Ks he'd acquired by this point (eight in 10 September games).

Michael had a multi-hit game on September 15 versus the Tigers. in his first at bat in the bottom of the 1st inning with no outs and the Tribe up, 1-0, thanks to Lindor's solo home run, Michael faced right-hander Michael Fulmer. after a 1-1 count, he hit a line drive home run to right-center field. the pitch sequence went: ball, foul by 1st base coach Sandy Alomar, Jr., home run. after that, Fulmer left the game with right knee inflammation.πŸ€”

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer
photo courtesy of @SportsTimeOhio on twitter
photo courtesy of David Dermer via Associated Press

per Home Run Tracker, Fulmer threw Michael an 85.5 mph changeup. also per Home Run Tracker, the ball came off Michael's bat at 102 mph at a 20 degree launch angle and traveled 378 feet.

this marked Michael's 16th home run of the season, the most he'd had since his 20-homer (career high) season in 2014.

Michael got his second hit in the bottom of the 4th inning with 1 out and the Tribe blowing out the Tigers, 13-0. after taking a ball from righty Zac Reininger, he hit a line drive single to right field, then scored his third run of the day on Ramirez's RBI triple to center field.

Michael also drew two walks in the game, both in the bottom of the 2nd inning. the first came when he led it off against left-hander Matt Hall with the Tribe leading, 6-0. he did it after a 3-1 count, with a called strike being the third pitch. it was his first time facing Hall in his career. Michael later scored on Ramirez's RBI double to right field.

Michael next came to bat in B2 with 2 outs, Diaz at 2nd base, Kipnis at 1st, and the Indians dominating Detroit, 11-0. on the 11th pitch of a 3-2 count, Michael drew his second walk, this time off right-hander Sandy Baez, another pitcher he'd never faced prior to this game. that pitch sequence went: ball, foul over the screen, foul, ball, ball, foul to the left, foul down the right field line, foul 3rd base side suite level, foul back, foul back to the screen, ball.

photo courtesy of baseballsavant.com

the pitches aren't labeled in the photo, but Michael actually swung at and fouled off four straight balls before finally taking the 11th pitch for a ball to load the bases.

after the game, which the Indians won, 15-0, to clinch the AL Central Division, Michael commented on the Tribe's hot bats. "it was great," he said in Jordan Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians. "it shows how focused that our team was that we wanted to make sure we did it in front of our home fans. we were one game away, but we wanted to make sure that we control our own destiny, so that we can enjoy this moment. i think we did a good job of just putting some good swings on the ball and doing it as a team. it was a total team effort today."

for more on the Indians' division clinch and celebration, see the section of this blog up above titled: Michael Celebrates The Division Clinch!

on the Tribe's final off day of the regular season, Michael along with his wife, went to Curveball for a Cause at the Metropolitan at The 9 hotel in Cleveland, which launched The Kluber Family Foundation. here's a photo of several Indians players and their wives at the event:

photo courtesy of @KluberFamilyFDN on twitter

ahead of the game on September 18 versus the Chicago White Sox, Chris Assenheimer wrote in a blurb in his article on chroniclet.com that Michael was batting .314 since 2014, the second-highest batting average in the majors behind Jose Altuve's .332 BA. can't imagine Michael's a qualifier though with all the time he missed in 2016 and 2017...πŸ€”

it was an odd night for Michael when he went 0-for-4 in the ChiSox game on September 19. he struggled against starter Dylan Covey, whom he was 6-for-10 lifetime coming into the contest, by going hitless in three at bats. but he did reach base once in the bottom of the 3rd inning. it came with 1 out and no score. Michael took a called strike from the right-hander before he swung and missed to fall behind in the count 0-2. then Michael swung and missed at the next pitch to strike out, yet he went to 1st base on a passed ball by catcher Kevan Smith. that's the first time i've seen that happen since i started meticulously following Michael's at bats six years ago.

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

Michael hit home run #17 on September 20 versus the White Sox. with no outs and the Tribe down, 4-1, in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Michael swung at right-hander James Shields' first pitch and hit a homer to center field!

per Home Run Tracker, Michael hit a 90.4 mph four-seam fastball a distance of 393 feet at 100 mph with a launch angle of 23 degrees. prior to Michael's dinger, Lindor hit a home run, making it the first time the two hit back-to-back long balls since... September 15 lol

he got another hit in the bottom of the 8th inning. his at bat started with Lindor at 3rd base, no outs, and the Indians down, 4-3. facing lefty Aaron Bummer, Michael took a ball, then fouled a pitch towards 1st. the next pitch was a ball, but it turned out to be a wild pitch, allowing Lindor to score. then, on the 2-1 count, Michael hit a line drive single to left field. so, he was essentially robbed of an RBI, but... that's how it goes.

then during Encarnacion's at bat, as ball 1 was thrown, Michael stole 2nd base. he later scored on Cabrera's bases-loaded walk to tie the game.

Michael's third hit of the night came in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs and the game tied at 4. after a 1-2 count from southpaw Hector Santiago, Michael hit a line drive single to left field. the pitch sequence went: ball, called strike, called strike, single. that marked his first three-hit game since August 28!

Michael was in the lineup on September 21 against tough lefty Chris Sale, which i was not happy about because of his career struggles. but he wound up with another multi-hit game, going 2-for-4. he got his first hit in the bottom of the 3rd inning with Gomes at 1st base, 2 outs, and the Tribe down, 1-0. he swung at Sale's first offering and hit a line drive single to center field. that ended an uncharacteristic 0-for-11 skid with runners on base (in 12 plate appearances).

the second hit occurred in the bottom of the 5th inning with Lindor at 2nd base, no outs, and the Indians ahead, 3-1. facing left-hander Bobby Poyner, Michael bunted the first pitch to short and got himself another single! and that single ended an 0-for-7 skid with runners in scoring position (in eight plate appearances) and represented his first hit with RISP since September 1!

Michael also reached base in the bottom of the 7th inning. with 2 outs and the Tribe trailing, 6-4, he was hit by southpaw Drew Pomeranz's first pitch in the right sleeve of his jersey as he turned out of the way. he later scored on a wind-assisted RBI double to left field by Ramirez.

in the afternoon on September 22, the Indians held their annual Season Ticket Holder Appreciation event, when the players sign autographs for the fans. Michael of course was there and made one girl's day!

photos courtesy of @kkapottos on twitter

prior to the game versus the Red Sox, Assenheimer wrote a excerpt in his chroniclet.com article how Michael had the fifth highest batting average (.341) in the AL since August 13.

then during the game, Michael had a big three-hit night, with three singles, his last being the most important. it began in his first at bat in the bottom of the 1st inning with 1 out and no score. facing right-hander Rick Porcello, Michael sent a line drive single to center field on a 2-2 count. the pitch sequence went: foul back, ball, ball, foul back, single.

the second single came when he led off the bottom of the 3rd inning with the Indians up, 2-1. after taking a called strike from Porcello, Michael hit another line drive single, this time to left field. that gave him 51 multi-hit games on the year, which was tied for the 4th most in the AL at that time.

Michael's final hit transpired in the bottom of the 11th inning with the game tied at 4 and the bases loaded. Rajai Davis was at 3rd, Allen was at 2nd, and Lindor was at 1st base. lefty Drew Pomeranz was pitching for the BoSox and after a 1-1 count, Michael hit a fly ball single to left field for a walk-off RBI single!!! that gave Michael two walk-off hits in 2018 as well as six walk-off hits in his career and seven walk-offs in his career! the pitch sequence went: ball, foul upstairs, single.

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter
photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer
photo courtesy of David Maxwell via Getty Images

he once again got mobbed, with Lindor punching him and several guys throwing water and drinks on him in celebration! more details, pictures, and quotes from Michael can be found in the separate blog i wrote: Brantley's 7th Career Walk-off!

on the morning of September 23, an article about Michael's hitting approach and hitting coach, father Mickey Brantley, appeared on cleveland.com. Dennis Manoloff conducted an interview with Michael, though i don't know exactly when, and it went live on this date. here's the Q&A:

when learning to hit, did Michael try to copy his father's swing or one of his teammates? "no. i saw my dad take a lot of good swings, but i never tried to emulate his swing. he hit with very high hands and a very narrow stance. that was his preference. but as baseball evolved, as swing mechanics evolved, they talked about more balance and a different approach. my father and i talked about having my feet in a straight line; having my knuckled lined up; taking a small step; moving my hands back; and swinging. i wasn't trying to pattern myself after him or anyone, though. as i got older and grew as a hitter, those elements basically stayed the same. everything felt natural."

Michael talks to his father on the phone frequently. "we talk every day about hitting, we talk every day about life. it's nice to have somebody you can bounce ideas off. we talk about approach, what he sees in my mechanics, what i need to work on, what's going right in my swing and setup. we're trying for a better swing every day.

"he tells me that i need to swing more, that i take too many pitches. he was a swinger. we have an ongoing debate."

when Michael struggles, what does he identify as the main reason(s)? "it's usually when i get tired and stop moving. hitting is all about timing and rhythm. when you get a little bit tired, your legs don't work as well. you kind of get stuck and you don't shift and move your weight as well as you want. that's the main thing i go back to look at when i get in a bit of a rut."

why does Michael use a small step with his right foot instead of a leg-kick? "i've tried to hit with a leg-kick, and it worked out fine, but it wasn't comfortable for me. everybody has their natural tendencies, and the smaller step was natural for me. i've hit with an open stance; i could do it if i wanted, but it's still not natural -- what made me most comfortable. it's all about comfort in the batter's box."

what are Michael's keys to a good swing? "vision, balance and hands. the best hitters in the game see the ball with two eyes; they are balanced throughout the swing; and they have great eye-hand coordination to get the barrel to the ball consistently."

how did Michael come up with his signature setup, of bouncing the bat off his clavicle before a pitch? "i started that a long time ago, maybe before high school. it was a way to identify where my bat was consistently, over and over. when i bounce, when the bat goes up, i know it is going to start in a similar spot. i know where my hands are, where the barrel is."

and he doesn't have a heavy load on his back leg. "i shift back, i get on my backside, but i like to rotate off it. i don't want to sit and spin or get caught on my backside."

are hips or hands more important? "hips. the hips lead the hands. that's what feel comfortable for me."

does Michael talk hitting with anyone other than his father? "absolutely. i will talk hitting with anybody -- my teammates, my coaches, anybody. i love to talk hitting. the more you talk hitting -- and, just as importantly, the more you listen -- the more you will learn and the better off you will be. you can learn from anybody. at the same time, you need to know what you're listening for."

does Michael rely a lot on scouting reports? "pitchers are too good nowadays not to have an approach, not to have a plan. you can't freelance out there. scouting reports are part of the homework. i pride myself on being very prepared when i go into the box. i watch video on pitchers and look at their tendencies, and remember what they've done against me. but the game situation dictates a lot. if i need to move a runner from second to third in a close game late, i'm focused on doing that, no matter what the pitcher's tendency against me is. i know what i want to do when i get in the box against a certain pitcher. i know what pitch i'm looking for in each count against him, but i also need to be able to adjust if i notice something."

what is Michael's bat company/specifications? "i use Marucci. i switched to that model in 2013. teammate Michael Bourn challenged me to swing a different bat, and i haven't turned back. it's 33 1/2 inches, 31 1/2 or 32 ounces. [Bourn] told me that, with my hand-eye and as much as i put the ball in play, i could do more damage with a bigger barrel. i didn't believe him for a while, but now i do. i had swung a 271 my entire career. now i swing an S3T barrel."

would Michael recognize his swing as a minor leaguer? "yes. at the same time, as i got older and smarter, the swing evolved. in 2009, i was more bent over. in 2010, the same. in '11, '12 and '13, i got a little taller. i didn't make a conscious decision to stand taller. as i got bigger and stronger, i was looking to drive the ball more. your swing evolved, but it's typically going to be in the same realm. nothing will change drastically."

how does Michael feel about launch angle? "i hear about launch angle, but it's not part of my thought process. i'm not big enough and strong enough to hit pop-flies out of the ballpark. that's not for me. i'm a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter. if i try to hit home runs and go out of my swing, i'm not going to be successful."

in addition, before any games, Buster Olney tweeted that, per Elias, Michael's career batting average in the month of September was .326, ranking as the highest career September batting average of any active MLB player with a minimum of 500 plate appearances!

following Michael's 1-for-2 performance in the game on September 25 against the White Sox, Bastian noted in his mlb.com/indians article that Michael's career batting average for September was .325 (205-for-360). that marked the best average among active Major League hitters with at least 300 PA in the month. (he did actually write 300, but based on Olney's above tweet, i'm wondering if JB made a mistake and it's supposed to again be 500 plate appearances...)

Hoynsie posted an article on cleveland.com on September 28 that revealed how Indians outfielders are given baseball card-sized scouting reports before each game. put together by Mark Budzinski, they contain the latest information available about the opposing team's starting lineup and bench, along with a left-handed pitcher side and right-handed pitcher side. the left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder all get different cards. Michael, a veteran, does not use a card, which i can validate because i've never seen him take anything out of his back pocket at any of the games i've gone to. guess he doesn't need help on where to position himself based on who's batting because he's got it all in his head.πŸ˜‰

Michael only went 1-for-4 on September 29 against the Royals, but after he got on base in the top of the 1st inning with a single, he later scored on Encarnacion's sac fly to center. that marked Michael's 14th run in September, a new career high for the month!

photo courtesy of Charlie Riedel via Associated Press

before the last regular season game of 2018 on September 30, an article by Richard Justice appeared on mlb.com/indians. he listed an X factor player from each of the playoff teams and for the Indians, Michael was his selection. "just when it look as if Brantley might never have another healthy, productive season, and that he might miss out on the fun the Indians have had the past three seasons, he has bounced back with one of his best years. his work ethic should not be underestimated as a part of the Indians' 2018 success." yeah, only haters and people who don't follow Michael's career would believe that first part. good grief.

then during the contest against the Royals, Michael was a victim of a bullshit called strike 3 in his first at bat. Lindor was at 1st base in the top of the 1st inning with no score and Michael was facing southpaw Eric Skoglund for the first time in his career. Michael took a called strike being fouling pitch #2 off to the left side. then, as ball 1 was thrown, Lindor stole 2nd base. another ball was thrown before Michael fouled the next four pitches (to the left/1st base side/to the left/behind the plate). Michael didn't move on the 9th pitch of the 2-2 count because it was ball 3. unfortunately, idiot home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called it as strike 3. it clearly was not. take a look:

photo courtesy of @IndiansUmp on twitter

Michael'd been having a tough enough time with runners on base and with runners in scoring position, not to mention his K rate for the month was abnormally high. so to not only get called out on strikes and take the bat out of his hands and not even give him a chance to put the ball in play to see what might happen, but also have another strikeout added to his stats really pissed me off. this was not how i wanted Michael's last regular season game with the Indians to begin but, somehow it seems fitting. after the call, Hammy told radio listeners that Michael looked at Dreckman and wasn't pleased either.

when his day was done, he went 1-for-3 with a hit by pitch (on the right elbow after Lindor hit a home run...), stolen base (2nd), and single. the single came in his final at bat in the top of the 7th inning with 2 outs and the Indians up, 2-1. after a 1-0 count from right-hander Ben Lively, Michael hit a ground ball single to left field. he was then replaced by pinch runner Davis. the hit gave Michael a 9-game hitting streak as well as a 9-game hitting streak on the road! that streak will be active when he starts his 2019 season, regardless of which team he ends up with. if this was his last regular season game ever with the Indians, at least it culminated with a hit.πŸ˜”


In Indians History

on September 15, in his first at bat of the game in the bottom of the 1st inning versus right-handed starter Michael Fulmer and the Detroit Tigers, Michael hit a solo home run to right-center field, his 16th of the season, on a 1-1 count. it was special because prior to his homer, Francisco Lindor led the inning off with a home run, and so the game commenced with back-to-back jacks. according to Jordan Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians, it was the first time the Tribe hit consecutive home runs to start a game since Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis did it on July 8, 2016, against the New York Yankees.

also in this same game, every starting Indians player acquired at least one RBI by the 3rd inning. per Ryan Milowicki, the last time this had occurred was on August 31, 2004 in New York against the Yanks. then by the 5th, all the Tribe starters had at least one hit and one RBI, something no team had done since October 2, 1990 versus the Kansas City Royals Milowicki updated.

from Chris Assenheimer's article on chroniclet.com on September 23, Michael, Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Edwin Encarnacion all had at least 50 RBI at home, making them just the third quartet in franchise history to achieve that feat. it was last accomplished in 1999 by Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, Richie Sexson, and Jim Thome. the first group to do this was Earl Averill, Jeff Heath, Ken Keltner, and Hal Trosky back in 1938.

Greg Allen's walk-off single on September 23 in the bottom of the 11th inning versus the Boston Red Sox gave the Indians consecutive walk-off wins thanks to Michael's walk-off single in the preceding game. that marked the second time this season that the Tribe hit back-to-back walk-offs, having previously done it on August 8 and 9. before that, the last Indians team with one set of two straight walk-offs was the 2016 squad, with one on August 18 and one on August 19, per Joe Noga's article on cleveland.com.


In The Field

when Michael played left field in September, he acquired 35 putouts and 1 assist in 36 total chances, yielding a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

Michael's one assist this month (his sixth and final one of the season) came on September 22 in the game versus the Boston Red Sox. the Indians led, 4-2, in the top of the 8th inning, but the Red Sox had Tzu-Wei Lin at 3rd base and Jackie Bradley, Jr. at 2nd base. Andrew Benintendi came to bat against left-hander Brad Hand with 2 outs and after a 1-2 count, he hit line drive single to left-center field. as Michael ran over towards the ball, both Lin and Bradley, Jr. scored to tie the game. once Michael fielded the ball, he casually threw it in to the 2nd baseman, Jose Ramirez. then Ramirez realized Benintendi was behind him trying to slide into 2nd base and applied the tag (and stepped/fell on him to boot!) to end the inning. and Michael got credited with an assist!πŸ˜€

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

something really funny also happened in this game. apparently Michael forgot how many outs were in the top of the 4th inning after he made a catch for the second out. it was right up against the railing in foul territory in left field and Michael handed the ball to a woman in the front row before turning around and heading back to his spot on the field and realizing what he did. after the top half of the inning was over, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis made fun of him as he arrived back at the dugout, with Lindor laughing, "he's such a nice person." however, Michael contended that "it was a bad ball" and "it had a scuff on it." lol you can hear the ribbing in the twitter video provided by SportsTime Ohio.

Michael was potentially robbed of an additional assist on September 20 in the game versus the Chicago White Sox. the play in question came in the top of the 1st inning with Yoan Moncada at 2nd base, Carlos Sanchez at 1st, 1 out, and no score. Avisail Garcia hit a ground ball RBI single to left field off Josh Tomlin on a 3-1 count. Michael ran in to field it and make his throw, but 3rd baseman Yandy Diaz cut off his throw and took away a play at the plate, allowing the go-ahead run to score. according to the White Sox announcers, unless they were just assuming it, they noted catcher Roberto Perez yelled for Diaz to cut it off. they also disagreed with that call, for the record.


now let's break down the numbers. i am going to document his September #s, the 2nd spot #s, the 6th spot #s, and the PH #s, as well as the left field #s, BOP + left field #s, and overall outfield #s.

September batting average: .341

OBP: .400

SLG: .482

OPS: .882


Michael played in 22 (of 28) games, 14 complete, in September.

he started and played left field in 21 games, completing 14 of those games, appearing in 21 total.

he was subbed out defensively in 4 games after playing a total of 27 innings; 2 games after playing a total of 11 innings (5 innings/6 innings per game) because the Indians were winning a blowout, 1 game after 10 innings because he had played enough, and 1 game after 6 innings because the Indians were losing and he had played enough. 

he was removed as a precaution (right calf contusion) from 1 game after playing 5 innings. 

he was lifted for a PR in 2 games after playing a total of 12 innings; 1 game in the top of the 7th inning because the Indians were winning and 1 game in the top of the 7th inning because it was the final game of the year and he had played enough.

he came in to PH in the top of the 10th inning in 1 game.

he missed 1 game due to a bruised left ankle. 

he got 5 scheduled games off.


Michael bat 2nd in 21 games. 

Michael bat 6th in 1 game.


Michael played left field in 21 games. (14 complete, 4 subbed out: 27 innings, 1 removed as precaution: 5 innings, 2 lifted for PR: 12 innings)

Michael was a PH in 1 game.

Michael played in 14 complete games.



in September, Michael had a total of 95 plate appearances and 85 at bats in 22 games. here is how he fared:

29 hits

6 extra base hits

23 singles

3 doubles

3 home runs

6 RBI

1 sac fly

14 runs

7 walks

2 hit by pitches

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

1 reached on forceout

1 reached on fielding error

1 reached on passed ball (after SO swinging)

3 GIDP

16 strikeouts (12 swinging, 4 looking)

5 first at bat hits

41 total bases

34 left on base


35 putouts

1 assist

172.2 innings, 22 games

(14 complete games)

September batting average: .341 (29-85) (22 games)


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


when Michael bat 2nd in September, he had a total of 94 plate appearances and 84 at bats in 21 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

29 hits

6 extra base hits

23 singles

3 doubles

3 home runs

6 RBI

1 sac fly

14 runs

7 walks

2 hit by pitches

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

1 reached on forceout

1 reached on fielding error

1 reached on passed ball (after SO swinging)

3 GIDP

16 strikeouts (12 swinging, 4 looking)

5 first at bat hits

41 total bases

33 left on base


35 putouts

1 assist

172.2 innings, 21 games

(14 complete games)

September batting average in the 2nd spot: .345 (29-84) (21 games)


when Michael bat 2nd and played left in September, he had a total of 94 plate appearances and 84 at bats in 21 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

29 hits

6 extra base hits

23 singles

3 doubles

3 home runs

6 RBI

1 sac fly

14 runs

7 walks

2 hit by pitches

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

1 reached on forceout

1 reached on fielding error

1 reached on passed ball (after SO swinging)

3 GIDP

16 strikeouts (12 swinging, 4 looking)

5 first at bat hits

41 total bases

33 left on base


35 putouts

1 assist

172.2 innings, 21 games

(14 complete games)

September batting average in the 2nd spot while playing left: .345 (29-84) (21 games)


when Michael bat 6th in September, 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 left on base


1 game

September batting average in the 6th spot: .000 (0-1) (1 game)


when Michael bat 6th and was a PH in September, 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 left on base


1 game

September batting average in the 6th spot as a PH: .000 (0-1) (1 game)


when Michael came in to PH in September, 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 left on base


1 game

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


when Michael played the outfield in September, he had a total of 94 plate appearances and 84 at bats in 21 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

29 hits

6 extra base hits

23 singles

3 doubles

3 home runs

6 RBI

1 sac fly

14 runs

7 walks

2 hit by pitches

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

1 reached on forceout

1 reached on fielding error

1 reached on passed ball (after SO swinging)

3 GIDP

16 strikeouts (12 swinging, 4 looking)

5 first at bat hits

41 total bases

33 left on base


35 putouts

1 assist

172.2 innings, 21 games

(14 complete games)

September batting average while playing the outfield: .345 (29-84) (21 games)


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


when Michael played left field in September, he had a total of 94 plate appearances and 84 at bats in 21 games. breaking down the numbers are as follows:

29 hits

6 extra base hits

23 singles

3 doubles

3 home runs

6 RBI

1 sac fly

14 runs

7 walks

2 hit by pitches

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

1 reached on forceout

1 reached on fielding error

1 reached on passed ball (after SO swinging)

3 GIDP

16 strikeouts (12 swinging, 4 looking)

5 first at bat hits

41 total bases

33 left on base


35 putouts

1 assist

172.2 innings, 21 games

(14 complete games)

September batting average while playing left field: .345 (29-84) (21 games)



September #s while playing left field: 35 putouts, 1 assist, 0 errors, 0 double plays, 1.000 fielding percentage (172.2 innings, 21 games)

September #s while playing the outfield: 35 putouts, 1 assist, 0 errors, 0 double plays, 1.000 fielding percentage (172.2 innings, 21 games)



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

Game 1 of 1/Game 122 of 135, September 1: 2-4, single (first at bat), stolen base (2nd), stolen base (3rd), single, reached on fielding error. AVG: .305
[2nd/LF/CG9] 

Game 2 of 2/Game 123 of 136, September 2: 1-4, double, run. AVG: .304
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game 3 of 3/Game 124 of 137, September 3: 1-4, single. AVG: .304
[2nd/LF/CG9]
Game /4 & /138, September 4: scheduled day off.

Game 4 of 5/Game 125 of 139, September 5: 1-4, single, run. AVG: .303
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game /6 & /140, September 6: didn't take batting practice, out with sore/stiff left foot. he fouled a ball off the top of his foot yesterday in the bottom of the 3rd inning and it stiffened up on the flight to Toronto. he got checked out and is okay, but got the night off to rebound.

September 7: one more night off. Francona was being overprotective, said the foot was fine. injury was actually a bruised left ankle. this was precautionary. he did good work pregame, took batting practice on the field, but Tito elected to keep him off the astroturf.

Game 5 of 7/Game 126 of 141, September 7: 0-1. AVG: .303
[6th/PH] 

^^Michael did not start this game, but came in to pinch hit in the top of the 10th inning.^^

Game 6 of 8/Game 127 of 142, September 8: 2-4, walk (first plate appearance), 2-run home run, run, walk, single. AVG: .304
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game 7 of 9/Game 128 of 143, September 9: 2-4, single (first at bat), single. AVG: .306
[2nd/LF/CG8]

Game 8 of 10/Game 129 of 144, September 10: 2-4, walk (first plate appearance), run, single, double. AVG: .307
[2nd/LF/CG8.2]

Game 9 of 11/Game 130 of 145, September 11: 1-4, single. AVG: .307
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game /12 & /146, September 12: scheduled day off.

Game 10 of 13/Game 131 of 147, September 14: 0-4, reached on forceout. AVG: .305
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game 11 of 14/Game 132 of 148, September 15: 2-3, home run (first at bat), run, walk, run, walk, single, run. AVG: .307
[2nd/LF/GS5]

Game /15 & /149, September 16: scheduled day off (day after clinch).

Game 12 of 16/Game 133 of 150, September 18: 1-4, single. AVG: .306
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game 13 of 17/Game 134 of 151, September 19: 0-4, reached on passed ball after SO swinging. AVG: .304
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game 14 of 18/Game 135 of 152, September 20: 3-6, home run, run, single, stolen base (2nd), run, single. AVG: .306
[2nd/LF/CG11]

Game 15 of 19/Game 136 of 153, September 21: 2-4, single, bunt single, hit by pitch, run. AVG: .308
[2nd/LF/CG9]

Game 16 of 20/Game 137 of 154, September 22: 3-6, single (first at bat), single, RBI single. AVG: .310
[2nd/LF/CG11]

^^Michael hit a walk-off single^^

Game 17 of 21/Game 138 of 155, September 23: 1-5, single, run. AVG: .309
[2nd/LF/GS10]

Game /22 & /156, September 24: scheduled day off.

Game 18 of 23/Game 139 of 157, September 25: 1-2, walk (first plate appearance), double, run. AVG: .309
[2nd/LF/GS5]

^^Michael was removed and subbed out of the game defensively as a precaution before the bottom of the 6th inning after fouling a pitch off his right calf in his at bat in the top of the 4th.^^

Game 19 of 24/Game 140 of 158, September 26: 1-3, walk, run, RBI sac fly, single. AVG: .309
[2nd/LF/GS6] 

^^Michael was lifted for a pinch runner in the top of the 7th inning after hitting a single.^^

Game /25 & /159, September 27: scheduled day off.

Game 20 of 26/Game 141 of 160, September 28: 1-4, single. AVG: .309
[2nd/LF/GS6]

Game 21 of 27/Game 142 of 161, September 29: 1-4, single (first at bat), run. AVG: .309
[2nd/LF/GS6]

Game 22 of 28/Game 143 of 162, September 30: 1-3, hit by pitch, stolen base (2nd), single. AVG: .309
[2nd/LF/GS6] 

^^Michael was lifted for a pinch runner in the top of the 7th inning after hitting a single.^^

~~Michael finishes the year with a 9-game hitting streak, 9-game on-base streak, 9-game hitting streak on the road, and 9-game on-base streak on the road~~




in 2018, Michael had 631 plate appearances and 570 at bats in 143 games (1136.1 innings). in total, he had 176 hits, 55 extra base hits, 121 singles, 36 doubles, 2 triples, 17 home runs (2 grand slams), 76 RBI, 6 sac flies, 89 runs, 48 walks, 5 hit by pitches, 12 stolen bases (11 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd), 3 caught stealing (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd), 7 reached on fielder's choice, 2 reached on forceout, 4 reached on fielding error, 1 reached on throwing error, 1 reached on catcher interference, 1 reached on passed ball, 1 sac bunt, 15 GIDP, 60 strikeouts (46 swinging, 14 looking), 39 first at bat hits, 267 total bases, 204 left on base, 221 putouts, 6 assists, 1 error, and 2 double plays.

2018 season batting average: .309 (176-570)

OBP: .364

SLG: .468

OPS: .832


the season is over now, so that means changes are coming. here's what i'm planning on posting over the next week, including my series of 2018 wrap up blogs:
--Brantley's Second Half 2018 #s
--Brantley's 2018 Game-by-Game Numbers & Notes
--Brantley's 2018 Batting Order Position & LF/PH/DH #s
--Brantley's 2018 Situational #s & Statistics


thanks to the Indians' American League Division Series not beginning until Friday, October 5, i'm hopeful to get all of that posted prior to the series. fingers crossed.🀞

you can also expect me to write a blog for each series that the Tribe plays in. so depending on how far they make it in the postseason, you'll get one or more of the following:
--Brantley's 2018 ALDS #s
--Brantley's 2018 ALCS #s
--Brantley's 2018 World Series #s
--Brantley 2018 Postseason #s (cumulative stats post, only if they play more than 1 round)
--Wrapping Up Brantley's 2018 Season + Postseason (will be posted sometime after the Indians' elimination or World Series win!)

after that comes the sad stuff:
--a blog about whether or not the Indians give Michael a qualifying offer
--a blog about whether or not he accepts it, if needed
--a blog about which team he signs a new contract with
--a goodbye to Brantley blog, if needed

okay, here's the deal. Michael is going to enter into free agency this offseason for the first time in his career. it looks like he's definitely out of here, but maybe not depending on what happens in the postseason. (ie. if the Indians win the World Series, he might be more willing to come back to the Tribe, no matter the cost.) the Indians can extend a qualifying offer to Michael, estimated to be about $18 million this year, five days after the World Series ends. whether they do or don't do that, i will post a blog with the news. if they do offer Michael a QO, he'll have 10 days to accept or decline it. then i would publish another post with his decision, should that scenario arise. it's a long shot, and i'm not naive enough to get my hopes up even a little bit.

so there's my plan as of right now. looks like i'll be providing a lot content in the upcoming weeks. if you want to ensure that you don't miss any of it, i recommend joining my subscription list. you can sign up to receive notifications when new stuff goes live by entering your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar on the upper right-hand side of this page.πŸ“§

keep following and checking out my twitter @clevelandgirl23 for Brantley news and live tweets of his playoff plate appearances. and while the regular season may be over, my #CelebratingMichaelBrantley series will go on every Monday as long as the Tribe is still playing in the playoffs! i saved a few gems/memorable moments from Michael's career as an Indian to post, don't worry! you can find everything i've celebrated thus far by searching the hashtag and looking back through the thread. leave comments and your favorite memories of Michael's time with Cleveland if you like, too!πŸŽ‰

lastly, who do you think will win the ALDS, the Houston Astros or Cleveland, and in how many games? leave your predictions in a comment below!
feel free to guess what Michael's ALDS batting average will be, how many HR he'll hit, and how many RBI he'll acquire, too!πŸ’­

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