If the season was only seven weeks long, Aaron Judge would be the American League’s Most Valuable Player. He rolled the dice and if things continue to go his way, he will be baseball’s highest-paid player by season’s end.
For the second time this season, he takes the top spot on our #HighFive List.
Aaron Judge has his Yankees off to their best start since 1998 when they went on to win 114 games and swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
Judge, whose 14 home runs lead the Majors, takes the top spot on our #HighFive list once again and deservedly so. He is leading baseball’s best team in average, on-base percentage, runs, hits and OPS while only trailing fellow MLBbro and #HighFive member Giancarlo Stanton for the team lead in RBI.
“It’s fun with this team,” Judge told reporters after his 4-for-5 with two home run performance on Tuesday. “We want to play two games a night if we could.”
That was Judge’s third career four-hit game. He now has his average sitting at .306 with 30 runs batted in and an OPS of 1.049 to go along with those 14 homers.
His Yankees will welcome Tim Anderson and the White Sox into the Bronx for a three-game series this weekend.
2. Hunter Greene
I have seen plenty of heartbreaking moments in baseball over my twenty plus years on Earth, but there are not many I can think of other than the look on Greene’s face after his team allowed no hits and still found a way to take the loss Sunday against Pittsburgh.
No pitcher in the Majors has thrown more pitches in a game than Greene’s 118 on Sunday. If it had not been for a few untimely walks, he may have had a chance to throw a few more.
He struck out a career-high nine batters in the game, but also gave up a career-high five free passes to Pirate hitters, including two in the 8th that led to him being taken out just five outs away from history.
Changing The Culture | The Broken Red Machine Wastes Hunter Greene’s Electric No-Hit Stuff
“It would have been great to have a different result,” said Greene in this postgame interview. “But it is what it is. This is my team, ride or die with them.”
The Reds are in rebuild mode this season, but one positive I can take away from Greene’s outing was the fact that manager David Bell actually gave him a chance to build strength and confidence for starts farther down the line in his career. Typically, we see young pitchers held back and catered too when they first enter the league, but Greene was ramping up for the day he officially becomes an ace.
On the season, Greene now has a 1-6 record with 44 strikeouts and a 6.21 ERA. His next start will be Saturday in Toronto where he will take on the Blue Jays.
3. Giancarlo Stanton
No visiting player had hit a home run over the new left-field wall in Baltimore’s Camden Yards. That was until Stanton stepped into the box and launched one in the 4th inning of Thursday’s game.
People have been waiting for Stanton to fall off from his hot streak that began last season and has carried into 2022.
He, along with Judge, are Major League Baseball’s current leaders in average exit velocity and both are in the top 6 when it comes to hard-hit percentage.
A little over a week ago, Stanton had a stretch where he homered five times in five games. Through his last seven games, Stanton is 12-for-26 with a .462 (emphasis on the .462!) batting average with 13 RBI, a 1.000 slugging percentage, four home runs, a .548 on base percentage all while drawing five walks in the process.
4. Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley has set the tone for the Astros’ lineup during their current hot streak as he leads the team in batting average and on base percentage this season.
Brantley is batting .321 over his last seven games with five RBI, a .504 on base percentage and one home run, which came during Houston’s Monday night massacre of the Boston Red Sox.
His three-run home run was one of five dingers the Astros hit in an inning, making them just the eighth team in Major League history to accomplish the feat.
Michael Brantley “The Professional” Leads Astros Bat Attack Back To Top Of AL West
This weekend, Brantley’s Astros return to H-Town for the Silver Boot Series against Marcus Semien and the Texas Rangers. If all goes according to the plan, the lefty will matchup against Taylor Hearn Sunday afternoon.
5. Jazz Chislohm Jr.
Euro-stepper Jazz Chisholm Jr. is doing everything humanly possible to be the face that represents the Marlins franchise.
Swag, charisma, skill – the “Bahamian Blur” has brought it all to Loan Depot Park, and now he is putting up the numbers at the plate to make his case.
Chisholm currently leads the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, runs scored, hits, triples, stolen bases, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on base plus slugging percentage.
Those are “main event” type numbers that we rarely see a player put up for his team, but we have known since last season Chislohm is different. If he stays on this wave, he has a chance at taking the crown for best second baseman in baseball.
Over his last seven games, Chisholm is batting .286 with two home runs and four RBI. This weekend, he’ll have a chance to take on the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
The Astros hit five second inning home runs in a Monday night “Boston Massacre” of the Red Sox, highlighted by a three-run homer courtesy of Michael Brantley – who continues to be the best hitter you hear the least about.
Michael “The Professional” Brantley Is Conducting Business As Usual
Manager Dusty Baker has his Houston Astros absolutely rolling. Entering Wednesday, Houston had won eight of their last 10 games. The stretch included the manager’s historic 2,011th victory Tuesday night when they became the eighth team in Major League history to hit five home runs in an inning. The biggest was a three-run shot coming off the bat of Michael “The Professional” Brantley.
The Astros hot streak coincides with Brantley collecting 11 hits – seven consecutive – in his last 12 games.
During that seven-game stretch, Brantley is 9-for-27 for a .333 batting average, an on-base percentage above .450, five walks, five RBI, a home run and six runs scored.
This new-age Astros lineup is filled with some of the best young talent in the Majors, coming into this season following the experience of playing in last year’s World Series.
Yordan Alverez, Jeremy Pena and Kyle Tucker are among the younger faces accounting for a significant majority of the Astros offense this season, yet currently the veteran Brantley still stands atop of the team lead in average and sits second in on base percentage.
Brantley, like Baker, still has not gotten the opportunity to hoist the World Series trophy in his career, but the five time All-Star has steadily put up championship-level numbers at the plate since 2019.
Over these last three seasons, Brantley has never had his batting average below .300. Brantley celebrated his 35th birthday on the 15th of May, finishing his game that day against the Nationals 1-for-5.
Thursday, Brantley and the Astros will be in Space City for a weekend series against Taylor Hearn, Marcus Seimien and the Texas Rangers.
These early season American League West matchups are tone setters for the rest of the year in what I think will be one of the more competitive divisions in the Majors.
Each team besides the Athletics – whose Moneyball philosophy has them looking like a shell of their former selves – made additions and improvement to their rosters in hopes of snatching the division championship from Houston who has taken the crown four times in the last five years.
Even with the Angels having the two of the best players in the game’s history, the Rangers adding a home run record breaker and the Mariners adding last year’s American League Cy Young winner, I still give Brantley and his Astros the upper hand in the division if he can be the straw that stirs this new core’s drink.
Michael Brantley is picking up where he left off last season. The 14-year veteran has been a spark for the Houston Astros at the plate since he joined the team. His consistency and mechanical mastery at the dish earned him the nickname, “The Professional.”
And this season, he’s still showing why he’s one of the best hitters in the game.
Through 24 games, Brantley is leading the team in batting average (.278) and hits (27). A big reason the Astros wanted to go after Brantley after the 2018 season was because of his ability to hit. Our MLBbro has not disappointed at all and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down at the plate.
This season, Brantley has had numerous clutch hits, just like he has throughout his career.
On May 7, the Astros trailed the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the eighth inning. With the game on the line, Brantley was calm, cool, and collected as he hit a triple to score Jose Altuve and tie the game.
Brantley would later come in to score to give the Astros the lead and secure the win. He was pleased with how his team fought in that game against the Tigers.
“Tip your cap, but at the same time, this lineup’s always going to fight to the end,” Brantley told the Houston Chronicle. “We got a great group of guys that work hard to grind out at-bats and put up good at-bats over and over and over. So it’s not necessarily how you draw it up, but we’ll take the win.”
“I just think we’re playing as a team,” he said. “Our pitching staff is carrying us, but we’re actually getting some good knocks and some big hits at the times that we need it for this win streak.”
The confidence that this brother has at the plate is amazing. He’s that player that you always want in your lineup because you know he’s going to make the most of his at-bats each and every time he steps in that box.
His presence in the lineup affects the entire team in a positive way. If the Astros find themselves struggling at the plate, Brantley is the guy that can change the whole dynamic of the offense.
This season, he has eight multi-hit games and was recently riding a four-game hitting streak.
Houston is a team that can make some noise going into the postseason and Brantley does not shy away from the big stage.
The numbers speak for themselves when talking about how good of a hitter Brantley is. When his career is over, he will always be considered as one of the top hitters in the game.
And a big reason why he’s the best of the best is the work he puts in during the offseason. Let’s be real, one of the hardest things to do in baseball is hit a ball.
You never know what pitch is coming or how hard it is going to come at you.
But Brantley makes it look easy out there and he’s going to continue to have success this season at the plate because he’s a professional hitter.
Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley is the true definition of a hard worker. And that is why he continues to be a success on the field in his 14th season. The five-time All-Star is in his fourth season with the Astros and has quickly become a fan favorite.
The 34-year-old looks to be in good physical condition and has not lost a step out there. Through seven games this season, he’s hitting just .241 with two RBI and two runs scored, but his track record indicates that he’s sure to pick it up.
Last season, Brantley had one of the best seasons of his career as he helped the Astros to a World Series appearance. He finished the 2021 regular season with a .311 batting average with eight home runs and 47 RBI. During the postseason, he posted a .319 batting average with nine RBI. Brantley will look to continue to have that success at the plate this season.
This man is well respected amongst his teammates and opponents. In an article from the Houston Chronicle, Brantley’s teammates talked about the type of player he is and how he continues to impact the game.
“Professional is something that I think maybe gets thrown around a little bit haphazardly in this business, and while we’re all professionals, I think Mike epitomizes what being a professional baseball player is all about,” catcher Jason Castro said.
“I always knew he was a very good hitter just from playing against him. But when you see the way he goes about his work and he’s very methodical about everything he’s doing and trying to feel on a daily basis, it’s probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen.”
Watching Brantley hit is a sight to see and the way he’s able to make adjustments at the plate is remarkable.
“Facing him, I hated it. Love/hate. You know you’re always going to get an unbelievably professional at-bat, and that is the best compliment I can give. He knows what he’s doing, I know what I’m doing, and it’s going to be a battle. He never gives in. It’s a lot of fun but frustrating as hell. Over the years, I loved to hate him,” Justin Verlander said.
“Being his teammate, I think he’s remarkably even-keeled and does a great job of helping those around him be even-keeled. Which seems easy. But in this game, it’s one of the most difficult things you could do, especially as a hitter, because it’s so hard to be successful. It’s a game of failure for them. He’s imparted some of that in me as well, just whether it’s through the way you think about things or your routine or the attention to detail. All of those little things matter, and he does and teaches all of those things extremely well.”
The Astros have a special and talented player in Brantley. Having the .298 career hitter in the middle of the Astros order makes them one of the more offensively-efficient teams in baseball. The Professional continues to show why he’s one of the best hitters in the game today.
ATLANTA– After another ice cold showing from the Houston Astros offense on Saturday night, we all began to ponder out loud if Dusty’s chance at a World Series had once again slipped through his hands.
Dusty didn’t offer any excuses for the situation, but instead reiterated the faith he has in his ballclub. That faith was rewarded Sunday night, as the Astros defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-5 to force this series back to Houston for Game 6.
The Braves jumped out to a four-run, first inning lead thanks to a two-out grand slam by Adam Duvall. But unlike Saturday, the Astros were able to respond early and often.
“I was trying to figure out a way how we can chip away and get back in that game,” Baker told Ken Rosenthal on FOX TV after the victory. “But mostly, trying to figure out how to keep it at four.”
The Braves would add one additional run, but once Dusty went to his bullpen, Atlanta was held scoreless for 6 ⅔ innings.
Feeble Bats Wake Up
But there were still runs to score, and the Astros hadn’t been able to do much in that department since Game 2. Now when looking to explain such a drastic shift in offensive output, you need to look no further than the lineup.
With his team on the brink of elimination, Dusty dropped third baseman Alex Bregman to seventh and ran with his hottest six hitters at the top of the lineup. Armed with a new batting order, the Astros were able to do something we haven’t seen from them since they dismantled the Boston Red Sox last round; score runs in bunches.
The Astros scored two in the second and third, three in the fifth and two more insurance runs to end Atlanta’s postseason home win streak at eight games.
“Carlos swung the bat great, we got a big double outta Bregman and so I’m just glad we get to take it back to Houston,” said an excited Baker.
“That was our goal today, to get it back to Houston and it’s just one game at a time now.”
The way both managers handle the bullpen will be important in the final two games of this series. The key to an Astros win, however, lies in the bats. The Astros core players — from Altuve to Correa to Brantley — have to pound their way to the title, which won’t be an easy task.
CLICK HERE To Watch MLBbro.com’s World Series Preview with Malik Wright, Dante Miles & David Grubb