Dusty Baker is proving to be the Master Technician in this ALCS. The veteran manager and baseball lifer has given the middle finger to the metrics (letting his pitchers rock out) and relied on his decades of knowledge in leading the Houston Astros to a commanding 3-2 series lead over the Boston Red Sox.
According to reports, Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley resumed baseball activities on Sunday for the first time since being placed on the 10-day injury list for knee soreness, retroactive to September 11.
After watching him swing the bat and get in some glove work, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker spoke to the media on Sunday and gave an informative declaration for the 2021 all-star opt-out. Baker told Mark Berman of Fox 26 that Brantley is coming along pretty good.
— Brandon L. Carr (@Carrpediem21) September 20, 2021
He said, “We miss Brantley. The other guys have been doing a good job, but we miss Michael Brantley. He is a quality player, (a) quality defensive player who adds balance to our lineup with another lefty because you know we are right-handed strong right now. You don’t know how much you miss a guy until he is gone.”
Brantley traveled to Anaheim for a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels yesterday. Although the timetable for his return isn’t exact, the earliest he could be activated is Wednesday, September 22.
The 34-year-old has a long history of injuries dating back to his days in Cleveland; Before this stint, he spent 15 days on the IL earlier this season with some hamstring discomfort. Besides that, with the Astros, he’s been relatively healthy.
Brantley is still hunting the American League batting crown with a little over 10 games remaining as he is ranked second in votes behind Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
To qualify for the batting title, a player must make at least 502 at-bats. The big-league outfielder posted an average of .315 at the plate with an on-base percentage of .367 and a .441 slugging percentage in 493 plate appearances.
Baker indicated to the Houston Chronicle that Brantley’s return would come into play when he regains his pro form as Sunday was the first time, he swung a bat since he sustained the initial injury.
Baker implied, “It is a matter of communication when you talk to (Brantley). At this point in your career, you know yourself, and you know what it feels like to have your act together. Some guys get it quickly, and some guys, it takes a long time. Some guys never lose it. That is rare. So, we will see.”
In an era that places emphasis on slugging percentage, exit velocity and several other metrics meant to enhance run production, there are many who question the importance of a high batting average.
Despite these recent naysayers, MLBbros like Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley and Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson continue to show the value of having a batting champion in the lineup.
On Friday, both Brantley and Anderson, along with fellow MLBbro Cedric Mullins, held three of the top five spots for batting average in the American League.
By Saturday it was a completely different story.
With less than 20 games to go, will any of the bros be able to catch Starling Marte for the batting crown?
Cedric Mullins has been killing all season in a Baltimore Orioles lineup that doesn’t afford him much protection. He’s on his way to a 30-30 season despite playing on a team void of superstar talent.
While winning the crown would be dope, this late season stretch represents more than a batting title for Anderson and Brantley.
Both of their teams are in first place and with each team’s magic number under 20, the only scoreboard watching necessary will involve each other.
The Tampa Bay Rays currently hold a 5-game lead in the American League, which means at this point the Astros and White Sox are battling for second.
The Astros are 5-2 against the White Sox this season, so in order to secure that second spot, the White Sox will need to make up some ground on Houston.
Unfortunately for Chicago, Anderson has been mostly unavailable in September. After racking up 10 hits, 5 RBI and hitting an impressive .323 over his last 7 games played, Anderson was placed on the IL with what has been described as hamstring soreness.
Anderson’s presence has been missed at the top of the lineup, as the team has struggled to score runs against quality opponents at times.
Over their last five games as of Saturday, the White Sox have hit just .250 (9-for-36) with runners in scoring position.
Even with his team struggling to score and his average sliding in the ranks, Anderson remains focused on the main goal; a deep run in October.
“We know what the ultimate goal is,”Anderson said when asked about his impending return.
“We’re trying to get healthy and come back as quickly as I can, but also be 100 percent and be smart about it and know when to go.”
Anderson’s batting average has stalled at .302 and his return to action is still up in the air.
Astros outfielder Michael Brantley has continued to age like fine wine. And while his power numbers have dropped, the hits have kept on coming.
As of Saturday, Brantley held the 5th highest batting average in the American League at .316.
Over his last 7 games, the five-time All Star has hit .323 while racking up 10 hits and only striking out once in 31 plate appearances for the Stros.
If Brantley keeps his current pace, this will be the first time since 2017 that he racked up 150 hits in a season and did not pass the 15 homerun mark.
Despite his lack of power, Brantley’s ability to get on base will be a major boost for the Astros as they look to exercise the demons of their trash can banging past.
Rob Parker celebrates the seven MLBbros that made the 2021 MLB All-Star squad: Michael Brantley, Aaron Judge, Cedric Mullins, Mookie Betts, Tim Anderson, Taijuan Walker and Marcus Semien.
Three of the best hitters in baseball will be representing MLBbro Nation after being selected as All-Star Reserves Sunday. Michael Brantley, Cedric CM Storm Mullins and Mookie Betts are making the trip to the Mile High City after being voted on by their fellow coaches and peers.
Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the lone Bro representing the National League All-Star team. Although his numbers aren’t the eye-popping MVP caliber we have gotten used to seeing from him, he is still the best Bro in the game. Betts missed time after being hit in the arm with a pitch but has been finding more success at the plate lately. He has 10 home runs, 31 RBI, a .247 Batting Average and is fifth in the National League with 21 doubles.
Mookie Betts is once again doing things just to show us he can pic.twitter.com/gdmtFYEHU5
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) June 29, 2021
Betts has been getting on base and scoring runs, which sounds simple but is one of the most underrated skills in the sport: If you do not score, you cannot win. He’s scored 49 runs and has a .358 On Base Percentage.
Mookie Betts: Home Run
Max Muncy: Home Run
— Today in MLB (@Todayin_MLB) June 29, 2021
“The Professional” swung the hottest bat in baseball during the month of June and makes his fifth All-Star game. After spending time on the Injured List, he clawed his way to the top of the Majors in batting average after hitting .410 with 15 RBI, eight doubles and 34 hits for the month. That puts him at .340 for the year, which after Sunday has him .1 ahead of the Reds’ Nick Castellanos, who appears to be his biggest threat to the batting championship.
Michael Brantley makes the All-Star Team for the fifth time: “It’s an honor. It’s always appreciated. You never do it by yourself.” pic.twitter.com/3KTkTb7Nft
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) July 4, 2021
Cedric “CM” Storm Mullins is the best story in baseball, and it is great to see him get the proper recognition he deserves after being selected as an All-Star. He is the lone member of the Orioles to make the All-Star team and is the first Baltimore outfielder to make the team since Adam Jones in 2015.
Mullins became the hit leader in the American League with 101 after going 2-2 in Sunday’s game against the Angeles, including a go-ahead RBI pinch-hit single and then following that with a go-ahead solo home run in the 9th.
CEDRIC MULLINS WHO SHOULD BE STARTING FOR THE AL ALL STAR TEAM WITH A GO-AHEAD BOMB IN THE 9TH pic.twitter.com/0lyEMeFj6S
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) July 4, 2021
Mullins’ 3.7 WAR ranks in the top 15 in all of baseball and his .932 OPS is the highest among American League outfielders, as are his 15 stolen bases.
Mullins is batting .318 with 15 home runs, 32 RBI and has scored 47 runs this season. It is possible that he moves into a starting role as Mike Trout is expecting to miss the game with injury.
Betts, Brantley and Mullins will join Aaron Judge and Marcus Semien to make five total MLBBros in the All-Star game, which is one more total than in 2019.
The game will take place in Denver on June 13th on FOX.