Brantley, who will be 32 in May, had been a prodigious, if somewhat injured, hitter of late. From 2011-15 (2988 PAs) Brantley hit .297/.354/.436, good enough for a 120 OPS+ and a wRC+ of 118. His 15.7 fWAR ranked 18th among qualified outfielders in that time span. Injuries held him to a total of 101 games over 2016-17 but, mostly fully healthy in 2018, he put up a .309/.364/.468 (123 OPS+, 124 wRC+) in 143 games in 2018.
Brantley also does not strike out often - 60 strikeouts in 631 PAs in 2018, or 9.5% of the time. Among 140 qualified hitters in 2018, only Andrelton Simmons had a lower K%. So Brantley is a (hopefully) fully-recovered lefty hitter that does not strike out much, who hits for average and has some pop. I think that will work for the Astros' lineup, which now features four of the 20-lowest projected strikeout rates for 2019. And he doesn't have to listen to Tyler Bauer spend hours in the clubhouse talking about what a better player Bauer is than everyone else on his team. Double Win.
Michael Brantley swung at 1008 pitches last season and only missed 111 times. His 11% whiff rate was 3rd lowest in @mlb. Alex Bregman was 7th lowest.— Daren Willman (@darenw) December 18, 2018
*Jake Kaplan noted that the Astros' OPS against RHPs in 2018 was .733, 13th in MLB. So Brantley should, uh, help that out a little:
Brantley, career vs RHP (3058 PAs): .304/.361/.456.
Brantley, 2018 vs RHP (461 PAs): .321/.380/.509.
*Jeff Sullivan's recap of the move in FanGraphs is straight up Baseball Porn. And it's worth expanding on what Sullivan mentions: does the addition of Brantley make a Kyle Tucker-for-J.T. Realmuto swap easier to swallow, or does it just impact Josh Reddick or Tony Kemp? WHO IS TO SAY?
Is Luhnow a genius or what, what an absolute steal with Brantley. This guy is gonna go off in 2019! @astros— Forrest Whitley (@ForrestWhitley) December 18, 2018
*Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale is reporting that Houston is still in on Nelson Cruz though, to be fair, that's exactly what I'd say if I was Cruz's agent in an effort to drive up his price tag.
*Remember when CC Sabathia cost himself $500,000 by missing an innings incentive because he got tossed for throwing a retaliation pitch? The Yankees paid up.
*Czech out this great story from Jenny Dial Creech about my dude Vincenzo and the Alief Elsik Boys Soccer team.
*The Unsolved Murder of an Unusual Billionaire.
*A Musical Selection: