Astros: Michael Brantley is a dark horse MVP candidate
Three consecutive sweeps, 10 straight wins, offensive and rotational dominance have all been major headlines for the Houston Astros over the past two weeks. While sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in shutout fashion, the Astros ran up six runs on a former farm hand of their’s: Thomas Eshelman, who was traded in a package for Ken Giles.
To make it worse for Baltimore, minor-league journeyman Mickey Jannis finally made his major-league debut at 33-years-old against the best offense in baseball. The knuckle-baller surrendered seven runs.
All of the starters reached base via a hit for a second time this series. Along with Jose Urquidy fanning six through seven shutout innings, Michael Brantley deserves the most chatter, as he is making a case to bring home his first MVP.
At 34-years-old, Michael Brantley continues to show why many call him a “professional hitter.”
The award that every team wants comes at the end of October/early November, and while All-Star games and MVPs aren’t on the agenda of many fans, Brantley has been explosive since he returned from the injured list. The left-hander is splitting time with Yordan Alvarez in the field recently, because Brantley does enough running on the base paths according to manager Dusty Baker.
There is a lot of ground to cover at Comerica Park, where the Astros start a four-game series on Thursday, so it makes sense to rest Brantley now. He was replaced mid-game on Wednesday as well, and with four games ahead, Chas McCormick starting in left field sounds ideal for one game.
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Over his last seven games, Brantley is slashing .444/.500/.704 with one home run and nine RBI, and to make it better, this isn’t something new. While on the IL, he did miss a good chunk off games that could count against him in All-Star selections or MVP votes, but he is hitting at a .356/.402/.523 clip over 55 games played.
The two names that come to mind out of the American League for the award are Shohei Ohtani and Vlad Guerrero Jr., who are two faces of the league. Ohtani is doing it in the box and in the box as many know, while Guerrero is slashing .340/.442/.664 in 72 games. There is competition for the award, but there is also a lot off baseball left. The end goal is a World Series, so the MVP could easily fall into Brantley’s lap at this rate.
Alex Bregman is expected to miss “two or three weeks or more” according to Baker, but Abraham Toro and Robel Garcia are filling his void nicely. Kyle Tucker replaced Kent Emanuel (60-day IL) on the 40-man roster as expected. Garrett Stubbs was optioned, as a corresponding move.
The Astros are back on the field on Thursday at 6:10 p.m. against the Detroit Tigers with Luis Garcia on the mound against right-hander Luis Urena.