Here is a look at multiple facets of the Michael Brantley signing by the Astros.
Contract: 2 Years, $32 million
Contract vs. Expectations – mlbtraderumors.com (which is a compilation of baseball experts’ opinions) expected that Brantley would sign for 3 yrs – $45 million. So the Astros paid $1 million/year more but got Brantley to accept a 2 yr instead of a 3 yr commitment. This article and the poll shows how most folks think the Astros signing of Brantley was superior to the 3 yr/ $50 million signing of Andrew McCutchen by the Phillies, who was also expected to receive a 3 yr/ $45 million contract
- Brantley is a three-time All-star (2014, 2017 and 2018)
- His career numbers are good (.295 BA/.351 OBP/ .781 OPS slash), which are even better in the last 5 seasons (.311/.371/.846)
- One of his better years (2015) he was not an All-Star, but put up a very good .310 BA/.379 OBP/ .859 OPS slash
- In 10 years in the majors, the most Ks in a season he has accumulated are 76 – he has a 10.7% strikeout rate for his career. For reference, Jose Altuve has a career 11% K rates and Alex Bregman has a 15% rate
- While he has never hit more than 20 HRs in a season, he hit 45 doubles in 2014 and 2015 and 36 in 2018
- He plays a position of need – left field. He has played center field part time earlier in his career and has been the DH at times throughout his career.
- He has expressed this off-season that he could play some 1B if required. He has not played 1B in the majors; he played 53 games at 1B in the minors a decade ago.
- He is a left-handed hitter, which is a plus for the right-centric Astros lineup
- He hits righties better than lefties, but he is not hopeless against left-handed pitchers with a decent lifetime .276 BA/ .331 OBP/ .702 OPS slash.
- In his last 5 seasons he has normally been hitting in the 2nd or 3rd spot in the order, but over his career has hit almost everywhere
- He has become a smart base stealer – in his last 5 seasons he has stolen 62 bases and was caught only 6 times.
- There are articles like the following that show how Brantley, though out with injuries, tried to be available to his teammates and coach them during their playoff and World Series runs.
- He will turn 32 in May of 2019 – so he is on the “wrong” side of 30 as it were
- He has had two significant injuries in the recent past. He sustained a serious shoulder injury that required surgery and that cost him almost all of 2016. Then after returning from that injury in 2017 and having a good first half of the season, he sustained a serious ankle injury that cost him most of the balance of 2017.
- It might be thought that he would be blocking Kyle Tucker – one of the top two Astros’ prospects in the system.
- His .160 BA/ .214 OBP / .374 OPS slash line in 7 post-season games is poor, but also screams small sample (plus he was playing hurt in 2017). And he will not have to face the Astros staff as he did in 2018.
The Astros LF position in 2018 was fairly weak: .232 BA (13th in AL), .312 OBP (11th) and .702 OPS (11th). If Brantley is healthy he should provide a big boost up to the Astros lineup in 2019.