Stats & Info: Michael Brantley

Brantley's pull power thriving in 2014

May, 20, 2014
May 20
Michael Brantley seems unaffected by the Cleveland Indians' struggles this season.

Brantley hit a walk-off home run for the Indians on Monday as they defeated the Tigers 5-4 in 10 innings.

It was Brantley’s first career walk-off hit, and the Indians’ first walk-off home run of the season. The Indians led MLB with six walk-off home runs last season.
Michael Brantley
Brantley’s on-base percentage (.365), slugging percentage (.522) and OPS (.886) would all be career-highs. The home run was Brantley’s ninth of the year, one shy of his career high of 10 set last season.

There is reason to believe his power streak may not be sustainable, as he has homered on 19 percent of his fly balls this season, nearly four times his career average of five percent.

However last season, Brantley hit 50 percent of his fly balls to the opposite field; this year that number is down to 35 percent.

That is significant because Brantley has never hit a home run to the opposite field in his career. All but one of his career home runs have been pulled.

Brantley was 2 for 4 Monday, with both hits coming on pitches on the inner half of the plate. Eight of Brantley’s nine home runs this season have come on pitches on the inner half, and his 1.216 OPS on such pitches is second-best in the majors.

It’s no surprise Brantley’s big hit came at home. He is hitting .348 with six HR and a 1.010 OPS at home, which is fourth best in the AL.

Those numbers are even better in May, as he is hitting .409 with a 1.253 OPS in 11 home games this month.

Key to success: Contact king
Brantley has also been one of the toughest players to strike out this season. Only nine percent of his plate appearances have ended in a strikeout, the seventh-best rate in the league.

Brantley has missed on just 11 percent of his swings, the 10th-best rate in the majors. He is one of 14 players in MLB this season to have more walks (17) than strikeouts (16).

AP Photo/Chris O'MearaSale has the lowest ERA among left-handed pitchers this season.
The best left-handed pitcher of 2012 takes the mound at Dodger Stadium on Friday night. Clayton Kershaw will also be pitching.

Chris Sale leads the American League with a 2.05 ERA and .188 Opp BA, and is tied for the league lead with eight wins. This from a pitcher who hadn’t started a major-league game before 2012. Sale’s on-field transition to the rotation has been seamless (though the Chicago White Sox wavered in their decision last month).

In his past five starts, Sale is 5-0 with a 0.98 ERA, and he’s yet to allow more than three earned runs in a game this season. He’s looking to be the first White Sox southpaw to win six straight starts in a season since Wilson Alvarez in 1994.

Sale’s done it by leaning heavily on his slider, particularly as an out pitch. With two strikes, he throws 43 percent sliders. Sale’s 47 strikeouts on the slider rank fourth in the majors.

Having bested C.J. Wilson last month, Sale now faces Kershaw, the current standard bearer for southpaws. As intriguing as the matchup is, Kershaw probably has another player on his mind.

Adam Dunn has both the most home runs (three) and most RBI (seven) of any batter against Kershaw, as well as the highest batting average (.636) among those who have faced him at least 10 times.

Nationals and Yankees Collide
The Yankees and Nationals are set to square off this weekend, with both teams entering the series on a six-game winning streak.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is just the third matchup in major-league history between first-place teams that had each won their previous six (or more) games. The others were May 7, 1976 (Dodgers 11 straight vs Phillies six straight) and May 1, 1985 (Blue Jays six straight vs Angels six straight).

Michael Brantley’s Streak
Michael Brantley has hit safely in 21 straight games, the longest hit streak of the season, and the longest by an Indians batter since Casey Blake’s 26-game streak in 2007. It’s also the longest hit streak by an Indians centerfielder since Larry Doby’s 21-game streak in 1951.

Brantley also had a 19-game hit streak back in 2010. Only Brantley and Pablo Sandoval have had multiple 19-game hit streaks over the past three seasons. As we approach Father’s Day, it’s worth noting that his father, Mickey, once had a 13-game hit streak.