David Grubb goes first to third, highlighting Cleveland Indians rookie first baseman and MLBbro Bobby Bradley, who is scorching the ball and could make a major impact on the AL Central division race with his power bat.
Michael Brantley isn’t a power hitter. He isn’t a base stealer.
But what he is, is a professional hitter.
And right now, he’s in orbit.
The Houston Astros have gone 4-2 over their last six games, taking road series from the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. Houston scored 45 runs in those games, and while the entire Astros offense has been blasting off, Brantley has been in another stratosphere with it.
The 34-year old veteran outfielder is on pace to have his best season since 2017 and has a solid chance of being named to the American League All-Star team for the fourth time in five seasons when lineups are announced.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 2, 2021
Brantley’s .337 average leads Houston and is second only to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. among American League hitters.
In five games in the month of June, he’s had three games with at least three hits, and two four-hit performances, producing a .600 average. His OPS is an astronomical 1.502, with five of his 12 hits going for extra bases.
Michael Brantley 4-5, three doubles, four RBIs, scored two runs. pic.twitter.com/CJSVkyDUsD
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 13, 2021
Through 46 games, the exact number he played last season, Brantley has already bettered nearly every statistic he posted in 2020. Houston manager Dusty Baker has done a fantastic job of providing enough rest for Brantley to remain impactful, even without being available every day.
At times, Injuries have been as much a part of Brantley’s career as has his steady hitting. It’s part of why he was available in 2018 after 10 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, where he was an All-Star in 2017 and hit .295.
Brantley returned from the 10-day injured list on June 8 after dealing with tightness in his hamstring and has been able to pick up right where he left off.
When healthy, Brantley has been one of the most consistent hitters in all of baseball this season. He’s hit safely in 35 of 46 games and has yet to go consecutive games without a hit. In fact he has more multi-hit games (16) than hitless ones (11).
Michael Brantley is beyond underrated pic.twitter.com/10rqAvN5MZ
— Dillard Barnhart (@BarnHasSpoken) June 10, 2021
Brantley trails only Cedric Mullins in percentage of games with at least one hit and has the highest percentage of multi-hit games among the top five hitters in the American League.
He’s also in the top ten in OBP and top 20 in slugging and OPS.
He’s proven that with six seasons with at least 150 hits, and his career .298 batting average puts him alongside such greats as Cecil Cooper, Jim Rice, Barry Bonds, and Mookie Betts in the record book.
As Houston continues its pursuit of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West standings, consistency is key; and there is no one on the Astros roster any more consistent than Michael Brantley.
Court is in session.
There is no question that Aaron Judge is the heart and soul of the New York Yankees’ offense.
He leads the Yankees in batting average (.293), hits (61), extra base hits (23), home runs (15), runs scored (34), and runs batted in (35).
Judge is one of only four players currently doing so in the majors; along with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Avisail Garcia, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
He’s putting up numbers that should keep him in the conversation for Most Valuable Player in the American League.
That is if the Yankees can start playing up to their own expectations.
After snapping a four-game losing streak with consecutive wins over the Minnesota Twins, New York has a tenuous hold on third place in the AL East. The Yankees are closer to the fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays than they are to the number two Boston Red Sox, and they trail the Tampa Bay Rays by 5.5 games.
Aaron Judge solo home run puts the Yankees on the board in the top of the first! pic.twitter.com/NmzQHzXKFv
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) June 10, 2021
Their offense has been one of the biggest disappointments in baseball. Only the Detroit Tigers have scored fewer runs in the American League than New York’s 240. The Yankees are almost completely dependent on the long ball to generate runs, and no player illustrates that dependency more than Judge.
This season, New York is 9-3 when Judge’s gavel sends one into the seats. In the other 44 games, he’s played without hitting a Bronx Bomb, the Yankees are 21-23.
Across those games the pitching has been relatively steady. The Pinstripes are allowing 3.25 runs per game when Judge homers and 3.96 when he doesn’t.
However, when court is in recess, the Yankees’ offense is too.
In the 12 games in which Aaron Judge has hit home runs (he has three multi-homer games this season), New York has outscored its opponents 70-39; averaging better than 5.8 runs per contest.
Aaron Judge with another casual home run with 115+ MPH exit velo 🔥pic.twitter.com/tw4reVGDkm
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 28, 2021
That output drops to just 3.4 runs per in every other game; a decrease of nearly 42 percent.
“The Judge Effect” isn’t new. It’s been consistent over his career. Since the 2017 season, when Judge hit a career-high 52 home runs, the Yankees have a .735 (86-31) winning percentage when he goes yard. In all other games he’s played, it’s a respectable .538 (181-155).
FIVE straight games with a home run for Aaron Judge 😱
— ESPN (@espn) August 3, 2020
Still winning, but not the type of record that holds up when the rest of the lineup has to carry the load.
This year, the discrepancy is more pronounced than ever with the Yankees winning percentage showing a difference of .273 between home run and non-home run games.
Not counting last season’s pandemic-shortened schedule, it is by far the largest gap in his career. The next widest was during that 2017 campaign (.179).
That 2017 team finished 91-71 before losing the AL Championship Series in seven games.
The Yankees haven’t gotten that close to the World Series since.
They won’t get there again this season, it seems, unless Judge can start to replicate his breakout, rookie year stats. That’s how badly the Yankees need him right now.
That means Judge has to stay healthy, and he has to get some protection and production from his teammates. At least Giancarlo Stanton has gotten hot of late, slamming three homers in two games including this blast on Thursday night. But the bullpen couldn’t hold
Straight mashing! Stanton goes yard for the Yankees. https://t.co/SWXI8tY5iR
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) June 11, 2021
If not, Judge and the Yankees will be heading back to their chambers without championship number 28 once again.
There are several MLBbros that deserve to be voted into the 2021 All-Star Game. David Grubb gives us the skinny on these Black Knights and their accomplishments to date.
Bobby Bradley has come out swinging for the Cleveland Indians.
The first baseman’s season debut was overshadowed by the brilliance of Cedric Mullins this past weekend, as Cleveland dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles, but it was still impressive.
In five at-bats over two games, Bradley went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs, and three runs scored.
Bobby Bradley – Cleveland Indians (1) 2-run. pic.twitter.com/HfCELGsxaw
— MLB HR Tracker (@hr_mlb) June 6, 2021
Bradley, known as “The Assassin,” entered 2021 as the 18th-ranked prospect in the Indians’ system, and the sixth-ranked prospect among all first baseman due to his incredible power.
As a minor leaguer, from 2015-2019 Bradley sent 139 baseballs into the stands, averaging nearly 28 per season. The biggest impediment on his path to the bigs has been his lack of plate discipline. Over nearly 2500 at-bats, he managed only a .251 average and struck out 814 times.
By the end of spring training, he was hitting .303 and an OPS of .951. After joining the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, his inconsistency returned. His average dropped to .196 in 109 plate appearances.
But, that power though.
He still managed to crush nine home runs for the Clippers, like this shot right before he was called up.
Columbus Clippers (1B) Bobby Bradley collected 4 hits tonight in a double header vs Indianapolis including a double & his 9th HR (Video) of the season.@b_bradley_44 #Assassin #Indians #OurCLE pic.twitter.com/pLwRnmbh8y
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) June 5, 2021
In five at-bats Bradley nearly matched the season production of Jake Bauers, who had been at first for 43 games and 100 ABs. Bauers had just two home runs, three doubles, six RBIs, and scored seven times.
So it was hard for Indians fans to not immediately be excited about adding more offense to a team chasing the loaded Chicago White Sox in the American League Central standings.
Bobby Bradley 4-5 with 2 2Bs and a HR already. He's done more in 5 ABs than Jake Bauers had done in weeks of painful to watch ABs.
— JR (@jimtron1987) June 6, 2021
Cleveland manager Terry Francona welcomed any offensive production on a day when his team got trounced 18-5. The Indians have been awful at the plate all season. Their 231 runs are third-worst in the American League, and only the Seattle Mariners (.208) are batting worse than Cleveland’s .221 team average.
“That was really good to see,” said Francona. “Again, we’re dying to get some production from our lineup and to get him off to a good start I think is important. Hopefully, he feels really good about himself.”
But not too good. This has been the season of the pitcher. Strikeouts and no-hitters are getting racked up at record numbers. Bradley has been waiting for his moment to prove himself, and he should get every opportunity to show that he’s ready for the main stage. Even if he does struggle occasionally, the Indians don’t have any other option than to let Bradley work through it.
“I feel like there’s actually less pressure now in my case,” he said after Sunday’s defeat. “With all the moves that happened, now they’re looking at me and I get to settle in and play my game.”
His defense has to get better, and teams will challenge him to see if Bradley can maintain the steady approach he took over the weekend, but Bobby Bradley seems up to the challenge. His first trip to the bigs lasted only 15 games, back in 2019.
He batted .178 with four RBIs, barely getting a chance to taste his cup of coffee, let alone enjoy it.
He did do this.
BOBBY BRADLEY WITH A 2 RUN BLAST pic.twitter.com/iY59jwZKcv
— Milly Rock (@33Milner) June 6, 2021
That 457-foot towering blast against the Minnesota Twins showed off the ability to crush the ball with Giancarlo Stanton-like power, as the ball jumped off his bat at a staggering 113.5 mph.
Bradley plans to stick this time around by playing his game and not taking any of this for granted.
“All the starry-eyed moments are gone,” he said. “Like being around all the guys you watched on TV. Now I’m just another one of the guys and I just get to go out and have fun.”
And if Bobby Bradley is having fun, that means pitchers won’t be.