The Cleveland Indians have been following Michael Brantley’s healing process closely, but is he the only answer in left field?
The Cleveland Indians have been following Michael Brantley’s healing process like the North Star, and Brantley seems to be painted as the only answer to the left field question. There is no doubt that a healthy Brantley in the outfield and the lineup would make for an ironclad team. With that said, the Indians glided into the World Series without Brantley, against almost everyone in the galaxy’s predictions.
There is a conspiracy that Brantley will not be healthy enough for spring training. Think about it—the Indians are staying as airtight as possible in giving any real updates on their best left fielder. They have done their best to knock down rumors, but have stayed relatively mum in revealing concrete information and dates. Trying to hide information about Brantley says more than giving specifics.
Brantley started with no-contact swings through the holidays, and Chris Antonetti confirmed, “He’s continuing to progress. As each day goes by, we’ll hopefully continue to get more and more information and continue to see him make more progress.” Antonetti also said that Brantley is “working through his tolerance,” meaning there is still healing to be done by spring training in February.
Rajai Davis moved to the Oakland Athletics, but left field will still be an asset with the players they do have. There’s Brandon Guyer, Abraham Almonte, and Jose Ramirez, who are each more than capable to handle left field.
Guyer was average during the regular season between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland, but had a great postseason, posting a .333 BA and .889 OPS. When permitted to play this past season, Almonte was known for his 20 doubles.
Utilityman Ramirez is a close understudy to Brantley’s regular performance. He held a competitive 1.52 range factor and .986 fielding percentage, the closest to Brantley’s 1.86 and .991 in 2015. Ramirez batted .312/.363/.462 in 2016, where his batting average landed seventh in the AL. His 46 doubles last year also ranked second only to David Ortiz’s 48.
So, Brantley may be an important piece to the outfield, but the Indians have it covered if he isn’t ready for opening day. If the Tribe made it to the World Series without him last year, they can certainly handle spring training and April without him this year.