When the initial AL All Star voting poll was released to the press, Cleveland fans and renowned baseball critics alike noticed a large snub in the Outfielders category. That snub goes by the name of Michael Brantley, or as Cleveland knows him, Dr. Smooth. Brantley has been silently tearing up his competition in the batter’s box and on the field, and after realizing he didn’t make the top ten, voters quickly gathered together (I like to believe in huge crowds in several big arenas around the world) and feverishly voted till they couldn’t move. The hard work paid off as Michael prepares for what will likely be the first of many all star appearances in his young career.
Originally considered a throw-in as a part of the blockbuster CC Sabathia trade, Brantley quickly made his way up to the majors with Cleveland. His first few years were defined by his contact hitting, speed, and sound fielding. Nobody but the baseball gods up above could have seen Brantley’s breakout season coming to this effect. A .328 average with an already career high 14 homeruns and 60 RBI’s has vaulted him into the top ten of almost every offensive category, not to forget his meager 30 strikeouts compared to 29 walks. Brantley also has 10 stolen bases without being caught, a .920 OPS, and is tied for the league lead in outfield assists with 10.
Though his statistics are certainly MVP worthy at the halfway point, the 44-45 record likely won’t garner him much recognition, especially with the messiah of baseball having another prolific season for the Angels in Los Angeles. This may be Mike Trout‘s year to take home his first MVP accolade, which will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40 by the end of his career. If there is somehow a second half collapse by Mike Trout or the Los Angeles Angels as a whole, the MVP race could be up for grabs. The Indians will have to pick it up as a team and Dr. Smooth will have to continue his stellar play if he has any hope of winning the coveted award. Consider Brantley in the likeness of Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson last year. In a year that was dominated by Miguel Cabrera (of course), Trout, and Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis; Donaldson somehow stole his fair share of votes in the final standings. One thing is for sure; Michael Brantley has arrived and is primed to stay in the upper echelon of major league baseball for years to come.