Making the Grade: Ranking Left Fielders in the AL Central

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No. 1: Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

Cleveland’s lone all-star,

Michael Brantley

, takes a cut against the New York Yankees. Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Though Michael Brantley has struggled through back stiffness early in this season, he is still the most prolific outfielder of the bunch. 

Once a player to be named later in the deal that landed the Indians Matt LaPorta, Brantley put together the best season of his career in 2013. He was named to his first All-Star team and earned the Silver Slugger Award, hitting .327/.385./506. Brantley doubled his career high in home runs (20) and posted career bests in seemingly every offensive category.

The seven-year pro tallied 200 hits, including 45 doubles with 97 RBIs. He was among the elite in baseball last season, finishing in the top five of the AL MVP voting as one of few players in the big leagues to hit .300+, club 20+ home runs and steal 20+ bases. He became the 18th Indians player to record 200 hits and the first since Kenny Lofton to reach the milestone in 1996.

Brantley was eligible for arbitration before the 2014 season but, instead of going through yearly arbitration hearings with their franchise cornerstone, the Indians signed Brantley to a four-year extension worth $25 million.

Fortunately for the Tribe, the man commonly referred to as Dr. Smooth will be around for a long time — and, with any luck, he’ll continue to top this list in the division.

Next: Ranking the Shortstops