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Michael Brantley to Astros - Fantasy Impact

Outfielder Michael Brantley inked a two-year, $32 million deal with the Houston Astros, filling a gap in the outfield for the 2017 champions. Brantley had injuries that cut his 2016 and 2017 seasons short, but he came back strong in 2018 to be productive. He also had a .319 batting average and 90 doubles in 2014/2015, showing that he is an impact player when healthy.

After playing 101 games in 2016/2017, Brantley played 143 games in 2018. He posted a .309/.364/.468 slash line last season, topping a .300 batting average for the third time in his 10-year MLB career. He also roped 55 extra-base hits, drove in 76 runs, scored 89, and stole 12 bases in 15 attempts.

A former MVP candidate that dealt with shoulder injuries, can Brantley make an impact in Houston?

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Will Brantley Make The Astros a Top-Five Offense?

After posting a .776 OPS over the last two seasons (418 plate appearances), Brantley was seen as a player that was a serious doubt for 2018. He then played his most games since 2015 (143 games) and topped an .800 OPS for the first time since posting back-to-back .800+ OPS seasons in 2014 and 2015. His 36 doubles gave him his fourth season with 35+ doubles in his career and his 17 home runs were the second highest total of his career. A player with 55 extra-base hit, .300 batting average, and double-digit steal potential is very useful for fantasy owners.

Maintaining a solid line drive rate (his 24.7% rate was the second-best of his career), Brantley also had a career-best 37.1% hard hit ball rate in 2018. He was below his career-average in ground balls (45% vs. 47%) and had a 12.2% soft hit ball rate (the second-best of his career). Most impressively, Brantley had a 90.9% contact rate, 97.3% zone contact rate, and 4% swinging strike rate that all led the league.

A line drive hitter, Cleveland was the 2nd-best stadium for line drives for lefties last season. As for his new home, it actually suppresses line drives, basically allowing a league average of line drives from lefties. Doubles are obviously a big part of Brantley's game as well, and Progressive Field allowed 8% more doubles than league average to for lefties while Minute Maid Park allowed 7% less than league average.

Just to fully confirm that he is downgrading his ballpark, Cleveland helped runs scored for lefties more than any ballpark in 2018 while Houston allowed 2% runs for lefties than league average.

Brantley looks like he is going to slot into the middle of the Astros' lineup and looking like he could make a run to be a top-100 player for 2019. He looks like he can be an OF3 once again, especially in a lineup that could help him top 100 runs scored or 100 RBI for the first time of his career.

There are some issues with his new ballpark, but he is the stereotypical "professional hitter" and will find a way to make an impact. He may not regain his top form from the past, but you could do much worse than Brantley in 2019.

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