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Cleveland Indians top the American League in left field, because of Michael Brantley

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We wrap up the position review with a look at maybe the best position the Tribe had last year, left field.

Dr. Smooth doing his thing
Dr. Smooth doing his thing
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Previous entries in this series:

Left field looked very solid heading for the Indians heading into 2014. Michael Brantley had a pretty good 2013 (105 OPS+) and was entering what is often viewed as the the nexus of a player's career, his age 27 season. Some improvement was likely, but man, did he ever breakout in a big way.

He should have played 90% of the teams games in left, but with Michael Bourn making two different visits to the DL, Brantley did play quite a bit in center as well. He did finish with 106 starts in left. The scary part is that Mike Aviles had the second most starts with 17. (Yes, 17.) Ryan Raburn and Chris Dickerson each started 14, Zach Walters and J.B. Shuck had 3 each, David Murphy and Nick Swisher had 2 each and Nyjer Morgan started 1.

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wRC+

Brantley

458

333

391

513

904

160

Aviles

78

229

260

357

617

75

Dickerson

53

298

365

468

833

142

Raburn

52

196

192

294

486

31

Walters

14

167

286

417

702

104

Shuck

13

154

154

154

308

-20

Murphy

8

286

250

286

536

40

Swisher

7

000

000

000

000

-100

Morgan

4

750

750

1500

2250

567

Holt

-

-

-

-

-

-

That 904 OPS and 160 wRC+ is very impressive. Both figures finished just a skosh behind Carlos Santana and his 1B stats. Dickerson performed very well while playing left as did Morgan in his extremely small sample size. The rest of the players out there pretty much sucked. And Raburn had that one "sparkling" moment in left during Corey Kluber's bid for a perfect game.

Here is the rest of the AL Central:

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wRC+

Indians

299

349

463

813

133

Tigers

304

348

459

807

125

Royals

357

343

413

757

115

Twins

238

331

332

663

91

White Sox

225

297

344

641

79

The Tribe grade out best in the divisions on the strength of Brantley's great season. But as you can see, the rest of the riff raff dropped the team's left field OPS almost 100 points and just shy of 30 points in wRC+. The Indians also graded out as the top AL team in wRC+, with the Orioles second. The Tigers finished fifth overall on the strength of reclamation project J.D. Martinez. The Royals and Alex Gordon finished seventh, the Twins tenth, and the combination of Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Vicieido for the White Sox dragged them down to thirteenth.

The Tribe left fielders finished in the top 5 for homers, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases, and also led the league in doubles with 41. They also finished with the fewest strikeouts.

Fangraphs WAR time ...

Batting

Baserunning

Fielding

Offense

Defense

WAR

Brantley

30.1

6.2

-5.7

36.3

-10.5

4.5

Aviles

-2.2

0.7

-4.8

-1.5

-5.7

-0.5

Dickerson

2.4

0.4

-1.7

2.8

-2.4

0.2

Raburn

-4.0

-0.3

-0.1

-4.3

-0.7

-0.4

Walters

0.1

0.0

-0.3

0.1

-0.5

0.0

Shuck

-1.7

-0.1

-0.6

-1.8

-0.8

-0.2

Murphy

-0.5

0.0

-0.8

-0.6

-0.8

-0.1

Swisher

-1.7

0.0

-0.2

-1.7

-0.3

-0.2

Morgan

2.1

0.0

-0.6

2.1

-0.6

0.2

Holt

-

-

-

-

-

-

Brantley's Batting and Offense components led the Indians position numbers, which did help boost him to third in MVP voting. That Fielding score though dragged down that WAR score to just 4.5, which while surpasses Santana at first, but falls just 0.1 behind Gomes at catcher. The rest of the players out there did not amount to much, netting a -1.0 WAR.

Onto the AL Central totals:

Batting

Baserunning

Fielding

Offense

Defense

WAR

Royals

11.0

5.8

25.5

16.8

17.5

6.2

Indians

24.6

6.9

-14.7

31.4

-22.3

3.4

Tigers

19.0

3.2

-7.4

22.2

-15.0

3.2

White Sox

-15.3

-1.4

-1.9

-16.8

-9.3

-0.6

Twins

-6.9

1.9

-19.1

-4.9

-26.4

-1.1

If anyone is surprised by this table, you haven't been paying attention to the defensive prowess by Alex Gordon over the past few seasons. He won his fourth straight Gold Glove and the defensively metrics love him even more than that. His fielding easily made up the hitting gap to the Indians. The interesting stat here is that the Indians finally finished ahead of the Royals on the basepaths and led the AL. The Indians also led the Batting, so obviously they led the league in Offense. There were only four teams with negative WAR, with the White Sox and Twins two of them.

I would love to call for Brantley to meet or best his superb 2014, but I just can't do it. I expect just a bit of a regression, so instead of that 160 wRC+, I'll call for around 130, and hope he beats it. Brantley is signed through 2017 with a very affordable $11M option for 2018.