Michael Brantley had a breakout season in 2014, hitting .327 with 20 HR, 97 RBI, 94 Runs, and 23 Stolen Bases. This is not out of the ordinary for players to break out at the 27-year-old mark, but how likely is it that this is the new norm for Michael Brantley?
Players have up and down years all the time, but how do you know when the stats are indicative of great - or even greater - things to come in fantasy baseball?
HITS: One factor we see with Michael Brantley is that, aside from the standard 5x5 stats, he was also second in all of baseball with 200 Hits (only Jose Altuve had more base hits with 225).
(LACK OF) STRIKEOUTS: We all listened to our Little League coaches telling us to "make contact" and "put the ball in play." In today's game, however, strikeouts are more and more acceptable to both players and coaches... but not to Michael Brantley.
This tells us that Michael Brantley is progressing to be a great fantasy producer across the board. Of course, his value to the Cleveland Indians is ultimately more valuable, but let's talk about the predictors we see in his stats from a fantasy baseball perspective.
The fact that Brantley puts the ball in play is typically indicative that he will continue to produce, fantasy-wise. While we don't think he'll ever lead the league in home runs, he will continue to hit between 15-30 home runs every year. He'll also maintain decent speed until his early 30s, at least, and he'll keep his batting average around the .290-.310 mark, most likely.
The relative constant in Brantley's stats from 2011-2014 is that he puts the ball in play. He doesn't walk much, but he also doesn't strike out much. We're not gonna go and compare the guy to Tony Gwynn or Wade Boggs just yet, but that may be because he has more power. Likewise, with his extra power, we're also not going to compare him to a guy like Vladimir Guerrero who swings at (and hits) everything in the same area code, but we think Michael Brantley is somewhere in between the high-average slap hitters and a power-hitter like Vlad Guerrero.