How Michael Brantley — MLB’s best free-agent bargain — could swing the World Series

Some days, Michael Brantley thought the injuries were going to get the better of him, that they would zap what were supposed to be the prime years of his major league career. Brantley was the next big thing, the next blossoming star at the plate for the Cleveland Indians. His 2014 season, which featured an All-Star appearance, a Silver Slugger award and a third-place MVP finish, cemented that status.

One awkward dive for a fly ball put a potentially bright future up in the air.

Brantley had another strong season in 2015 but injured his right shoulder trying to make a diving catch that September. When rest and rehab didn’t do the trick, Brantley underwent surgery in November. His spring training was delayed a bit, but he got into 11 games in late April and early May before hitting another roadblock. Something still wasn’t right, and by August everyone recognized the reality: A second surgery was needed to address issues with the shoulder and biceps, further clouding Brantley’s nike nfl jerseys wholesale

And for the first time since the injury, Brantley looks like a star again, at least through the first two months of the season, hitting .326/.374/.561 with 10 homers and 14 doubles in 48 games. And his .325 BABIP, consistent with his career average, suggests Brantley isn’t just the beneficiary of a lucky stretch.2

What pulled everything together on the field, as the injury slowly healed, was the years and years of routine upon which Brantley had built his success. The routine evolved as he evolved through his major league career. Before every game for the past six seasons, regardless of whether his name is in the lineup, Brantley has gone through the same steps to prepare his mind.
As his routines helped things come back together on the field, Brantley, 32, said that wouldn’t have happened without everything that held him together off of it. When things felt as if they were falling apart, it was the little things, like the breakfast and coffee made by Brantley’s wife, Melissa, that got him through the nfl jerseys china nike

“There were some dark days in there, rehabbing in the cold and things weren’t always going well. I stayed in Cleveland all offseason, worked out there, went in during the weekends on my own because I was so committed,” Brantley said. “Having a wife that was supporting me, having a family that was supporting me to do this, it meant the world to me for the dark days where you didn’t want to get up and do it. You look at the kids and you’re doing it for them. That’s the extra motivation.”

After he was fully recovered physically, Brantley had to make another adjustment this year when he left the team he had been with since his major league debut and joined Houston, signing a two-year, $32 million deal this offseason.

“It’s an adjustment period when you first switch to a new team after being with Cleveland for a long time,” Brantley said. “They welcomed me here with open arms. The coaching staff has been great to me. They made me feel comfortable here really quick.”

Beyond his left-handed bat, Brantley brought another veteran presence to the Houston clubhouse. From afar, many on the Astros admired Brantley’s ability to always take a good at-bat. But the players and coaches quickly realized Brantley brought just as much to the team off the field.