Houston Astros 2020 Year in Review: Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley, who is now a free agent, had an excellent year for the Houston Astros.
The Houston Astros are hit with a tough situation dealing with luxury tax space, and whether they can bring back George Springer along with Michael Brantley. In his 12th season, Brantley showed he still has it and would be a great option to bring back if Springer moves on.
The 33-year-old resurrected himself in his final years with the Cleveland Indians and his new beginnings in Houston. “Uncle Mike” has made four All-Star teams along with a third-place finish in MVP voting in 2014, but injuries have slowed his power over the years. As an Astro, we saw a very healthy and productive Brantley.
In a shortened season, statistics are very inflated even with only 60 games. Yet, the numbers showed that even an aging Brantley will show out. In 46 games this season, Brantley hit .300/.364/.476. As an everyday player ranging from DH to left field, he was doing it all, but like many other Astros in 2020, he fell to injury.
From August 15-22, Brantley was on the IL with right quad discomfort. Many of these injuries can really be blamed on there being no Spring Training. Without the proper amount of time to ramp up, players will fall like dominoes to injury throughout the season.
With no Yordan Alvarez, we saw a lot more of Kyle Tucker in left field and Brantley at the DH spot. Yet, in 19 games in left field, Uncle Mike excelled with a fielding percentage of 1.000.
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The hot bat of Brantley carried into the postseason. In a short series in Minnesota, he was raking, hitting .286/.444/.429. As the everyday three-hole hitter, Brantley stayed hot into the ALDS and ALCS with numbers of .368/.368/.737 and .346/.452/.462 respectively.
Even when Dusty Baker moved him into the two-hole in the ALCS, Uncle Mike was still producing runs. His WPA (win probability added for offensive player) was increasing each series (.02/.24/.25). The jump is crazy for guy of his age. Baker dug deep into analytical matchups for these series so we saw Brantley fluctuate from DH to LF much like the regular season.
Brantley is now a free agent, but it doesn’t seem like he is the first thought of the Astros. While Houston’s front office works with Springer, we can only hope that Uncle Mike doesn’t sign somewhere else. He has proven a lot in Houston, which seems to be a recurring thing these past years with the reincarnation of Charlie Morton and Justin Verlander’s careers.
Brantley is a very clean cut, non-flashy guy who any team would want in their outfield, a guy who shakes off human errors and makes up for it in the next at bat. I think the Astros should do all they can to bring him back, but it is smart to not buy big into an aging player.