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Michael Brantley is one of the toughest players in baseball to strike out.

Dr. Smooth has a surgeon's hands when it comes to managing the strike zone.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Brantley is having by far the best year of his career. He's among the top ten in the league in BA, OBP, SLG, and wRC+; he's 20 of 21 on the base paths, and he's one homer away from a 20/20 season, with a shot at 100 runs scored and 100 runs batted in.

Brantley has hit for far more power than in previous seasons, while maintaining his elite (low) strikeout rate.

Here are this season's MLB leaders in strikeout rate (K%):

  1. Victor Martinez: 6.7%
  2. Jose Altuve: 7.7%
  3. Ben Revere: 7.8%
  4. Michael Brantley: 8.2%
  5. Kurt Suzuki: 8.7%
  6. Norichika Aoki: 9.3%
  7. Erick Aybar: 9.5%
  8. Denard Span: 9.8%
  9. Albert Pujols: 9.9%
  10. Robinson Cano: 10.4%

As you may have noticed, most of those guys are off the slap-hitting variety. Only Martinez, Brantley, Pujols, and Cano have an ISO (isolated power) figure better than .114. (for context, the MLB average for ISO is .136)

Martinez, Altuve, and Brantley are the only qualified hitters in baseball this season with more extra-base hits than strikeouts, and with Brantley being +9 at the moment (61 XBH, 52 K), he stands a very good chance of becoming the first qualified Indians hitter to more XBH than K since Albert Belle and Omar Vizquel both did it in 1996.

Brantley also has 49 walks to go with his 52 strikeouts. He probably won't be able to get his BB total above his K count, but if he does, he'll be the first qualified Indians hitter to finish with more walks since Roberto Alomar in 2001.

Here are this season's MLB leaders in BB/K ratio:

  1. Victor Martinez: 1.55
  2. Jose Bautista: 1.05
  3. Coco Crisp: 0.97
  4. Yangervis Solarte: 0.95
  5. Michael Brantley: 0.94
  6. Ben Zobrist: 0.89
  7. Carlos Santana: 0.88
  8. Robinson Cano: 0.88
  9. Norichika Aoki: 0.87
  10. Matt Carpenter: 0.87

It's difficult to find many good comparisons for Brantley as an offensive player, because his strikeout is so incredibly low, and very few hitters like that also have legitimate pop, and even fewer of those hitters have pop and speed. Only 22 players strikeout less than 12% of the time, and only 9 of those players have an ISO rate above their league's average. Brantley has 20 stolen bases, the other 8 players have an average of 3.5, topped by Cano's 10.

Mike Trout (for the third year) should be the American League, and (for the first time) he probably will be. Michael Brantley would be a fine choice for 2nd or 3rd on the ballot though. Not since Grady Sizemore's peak have we seen a Tribe player putting up a season this strong.