Looking at the 2013-2014 seasons of Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig (.925 OPS) and the 2014 season of Chicago White Sox 1B Jose Abreu (leading the AL in HR, 31- RBI- 86, SLG- .610 and OPS- .971), you can make a case that Cuba has produced two of the new MLB offensive stars. Guys like Andrew McCutchen and Paul Goldschmidt represent what would be my top six in top offensive players in all of MLB. Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Robinson Cano of the Mariners, Troy Tulowitski of the Rockies and David Ortiz of the Red Sox would complete my list of the top ten position players in all of MLB right now. Obviously, this is subject to discussion. However, with the emergence of Brantley, where would he rank among the best in all of baseball?
Coming over from Cuba leaves doubt over whether Puig and Abreu are for real because according to MLB, they were unknowns before coming to the USA. But I pose the question about Brantley, the second generation OF who was obtained by the Indians from the Milwaukee Brewers in the mid season trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers, as to how much of a time frame is given before a player like him is considered one of the best in all of baseball. The numbers of this season ranks him as such, but is he not given enough clout because this is the first season he has performed as a top player. His 2013 season was very good, but his performance was on no way on the same level of his performance this season. Perhaps this is the reason he is not spoken about among the top players in the game.
In 2013, Brantley hit .284, 10, 73 in 151 games, but finished with just 26 2Bs and a .728 OPS. After debuting in 2009 and playing 72 games in 2010 followed by 114 in 2011, 2014 is Brantley's 3rd full MLB season. Brantley's 2014 performance will raise the expectations of his 2015 and beyond. Fantasy owners will judge his 2014 numbers and if they believe in them, will use Brantley as a franchise type player. Based on his 2014 numbers, he has become the Indians franchise player, surpassing the likes of Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. The Indians are struggling to remain at .500, but are there because of what Brantley has done. He certainly has to back up his breakout season to get the reputation of a top overall MLB player, but he deserves credit for what he has done this season.
Like I mentioned before, Michael's father Mickey (Michael Charles Sr.) Brantley played 4 seasons in the big leagues for the Seattle Mariners from 1986-1989, having a breakout season in 1987. He hit .302, 15, 54 with a .842 OPS in 94 games that season. In 1988, he played in a career high 149 games, hitting .263, 15, 56, but his OPS dropped to .642. After a disappointing start to the 1989 season, he was sent to the minors where he would finish his professional career playing in AAA for the Mariners, Brewers, Reds, Astros and Giants organizations. He would finish his professional career with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Pacific League.
Michael Jr. was one of four players traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Indians in the deal that brought Sabathia to the Brewers for the pennant chase. OF Matt LaPorta was the top prospect dealt by the Brewers, but he never panned out. The other two players in the deal are no longer in baseball.