After winning the World Series beating the Philadelphia Phillies last year in six games, the Houston Astros have had issues putting together that chemistry from last year. With a 16-15 record and a two-game losing streak as of May 5th, the easy observation is that ineptitude on the offensive end is leading to losses.
Houston Astros Bats Have Disappeared
The team is at the bottom of the Major Leagues in slugging percentage hovering around .370. To put this in perspective, the only teams with worse percentages are last place teams in the Oakland A’s, the Kansas City Royals and the Washington Nationals.
But help is coming in MLBbro, Michael Brantley who is currently tearing up his rehab assignment with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. Based on this tweet here, the Astros might have to fight to get him back…
— Sugar Land Space Cowboys (@SLSpaceCowboys) May 3, 2023
Brantley has been impressive in his first action in ten months after undergoing arthroscopic labral repair on his right shoulder that kept him out of the Houston lineup since June 26th.
In six games with the Space Cowboys, our MLBbro had a batting average of .333.
Astros general manager Dana Brown provided some insight on his timeline that Brantley could return to the parent club and possibly be in the lineup by Monday when Houston starts the Anaheim series.
The ultimate goal for our MLBbro is getting back to the Astros…but at 100 percent.
“I want to be healthy, I want to be able to contribute at a high level once I go back,” said Brantley. “There is a lot of hard work from a lot of good people to get me to this point and I am appreciative of being here and even having this opportunity, and all is going well so far.”
“The Professional” should hit the ground running upon return. Brantley stated recently that the competition in the minor leagues has gotten tougher since he came up the ranks years ago.
Houston @astros LF Michael Brantley, in Abq this week on a minor league rehab assignment playing against the @ABQTopes, says minor leaguers have it a little bit better today than he remembers when he was coming up… pic.twitter.com/EhOPe0sRD2
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) May 5, 2023
If Michael Brantley does return for the Anaheim series, then what?
Where will Michael Brantley fit in when he returns and more importantly…the future?
Our MLBbro has a shining reputation of being a professional hitter thanks to a disciplined eye at the plate and solid mechanics to make consistent contact. With that in mind, look for Brantley to fill the designated hitter spot when he returns. His career performance shows that Michael should be fine in the short term.
- Brantley has topped the .300 mark in five of his last eight seasons.
- He’s never struck out more than 60 times in any season of his career.
- His OPS+ (On base Plus Slugging Plus) is at least 19 percent above league average the last five seasons.
Michael Brantley made a positive contribution to the Astros offense before the team shut him down. His numbers were still solid ( .288/.370/.416 with an OPS of .785). Numbers like these along with veteran leadership in the locker room will suit the Astros just fine in the short term.
But what about the long term?
Could Michael Brantley be moving to first base ?
Throughout his career, Michael Brantley has been a defensive anchor in the outfield. But could a return from shoulder surgery prompt a move to the infield? According to MLBbro manager Dusty Baker, Brantley could be moving to first base when he gets his rhythm back.
Dusty Baker on Michael Brantley working at first base during his rehab assignment: “We talked to him about that, yeah. We worked Michael out at first base during spring training.” pic.twitter.com/8Uad1VPqDN
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 29, 2023
Brantley has been seen working out at first base working on footwork and throwing mechanics. Even though our MLBbro hasn’t played first base in the minors in 2007, it’s all about the team and how he can help via MLB.com.
“We’ll see how it goes, Brantley said. “At the same time, it’s a team-first approach always. I’ve always been like that. If I can help the team out in any way, I’ll be available. It’s a lot of hard work. I’m learning a lot very quickly, but it’s all been going smoothly so far.”
“I’m just trying to learn and do the best of my ability and get the footwork down, make accurate throws, find new arm slots,” Brantley said. “It’s an adjustment period, but it’s kind of fun. I always enjoy taking ground balls. I get to do it a little more often.
With this season just starting basically 30 games in, the Astros see the season as a marathon and not a sprint. The team wants to see our MLBbro settled in for the postseason where he really can help the team repeat as champions.
The postseason is the end game for Michael Brantley’s rehab and position change.
When the Astros discussed their long term plans this season for Brantley, his postseason performance in 2020 was on the minds of many. Michael Brantley showed up and showed out with a .319 batting average with at least one RBI in seven of the 13 games he participated in. One of those games he deposited two homers with three RBI.
But for any postseason talk to commence, the Astros have to start generating offense, which is where Brantley helps. To start this season, there have been ten Astros players with at least 50 plate appearances. Out of those ten, only Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker have OBPs of .340 or better. After signing a one-year deal last December, here’s hoping that Michael Brantley returns to reward the Astros loyalty despite surgery last season.