Astros Player of the Day: Michael Brantley

Feb 17, 2023; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Michael Brantley (23) looks on during a spring training workout at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Astros Player of the Day: Michael Brantley

Welcome to Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight, Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout spring training.

Today’s Astros Player of the Day is outfielder Michael Brantley.

With the Astros trailing the World Series two games to one, Brantley sensed doubt amongst his teammates, many of which had come up short in the Fall Classic the year before and in 2021, so he stood up and addressed them.

The Astros won that night in Philadelphia and won the next two games to secure the franchise’s second championship. Brantley didn’t play that night or in the World Series. In fact, he didn’t play after June 26, but his impact on the team was felt by everyone.

Brantley is back in Houston after a signing a one-year, $13 million deal over the winter, but it’s unclear when he’ll be available to play following right shoulder surgery in August. As of March 23, he has yet to play in a spring training game, so a stint on the injured list at the start of the season seems likely.

A five-time All-Star, Brantley will turn 36 in May, and he started to show signs of decline even before the shoulder injury ended his 2022 season. In 64 games, he posted a .288/.370/.416 slash line for a .785 OPS, his lowest since joining the Astros in 2019 and his lowest since 2013, if you take out the 11 games he played in 2016 before being shutdown to undergo his first shoulder surgery.

Some of Brantley’s power drop is by design. His strikeout rate the last two seasons is better than half of the rest of baseball’s, and instead of focusing on hitting the ball in the air to the pull side, he’s a line-to-line, line drive hitter.

Astros manager Dusty Baker made it clear this spring that Brantley will reclaim the second spot in the Astros lineup whenever he is healthy enough to rejoin the team. At this stage of his career, he won’t lead the league in homers, and he won’t be a threat on the bases, but the team will be able to count on Brantley to put up professional at-bats that lead to him reaching base at a high clip in front of the boppers hitting behind him.

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