Cleveland Indians Michael Brantley Injury Update

Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley underwent shoulder surgery in November and is out five to six months. When will he be ready for the 2016 season?

The Cleveland Indians haven’t had good luck recently. The offense and pitching staff looked good throughout the season, but wasn’t enough to make it back to the playoffs. The team finished 81-80 and third in the American League Central. The injury to outfielder Michael Brantley adds to the list. When will the breakout star be ready for the 2016 season?

It’s been a gradual climb into fantasy prominence for Brantley. He hit 16 home runs, 139 RBI and .274 with stole 39 bases in his first 363 games. He hit 10/73/.284 with 17 steals in 2013 and 20/97/.327 with 23 steals in a career-high 156 games in 2014. As a result, he was a highly sought after outfielder, drafted eighth among them with a third-round ADP. 

Michael Brantley’s 2015 season was a bit of a drop off compared to the year before. He finished as the 15th-best outfielder and No. 41 overall on the Player Rater after playing in just 137 games. He hit 15 home runs, 84 RBI and .310 with 15 steals. He tied his career-high in doubles (45), had a career-high 60 walks and struck out just 51 times.

He is one of the most patient hitters in the league. His 1.18 BB/K ratio ranked No. 1 and his O-Swing percentage of 24.9 ranked 17th among all qualified hitters according to Fangraphs. His ground ball rate has been dropping while his fly ball rate rose over the last four seasons. It was 46.1 and 28.2 in 2014 and 45.8 and 31.7 in 2015, respectively.

Michael Brantley underwent shoulder surgery on Nov. 9 to repair the injury he suffered on Sept. 22. He was removed from the game and made just two more starts before being shut down. Indians head athletic trainer James Quinlan told reporters that Brantley won’t begin swinging a bat for four months. That would put the timetable around March. It’ll be five months before entering rehab games and six months before being ready for major-league play. So you will likely not see Brantley on an MLB field until May.

The most recent update from Jan. 29 looks good for his 2016 start date. A report from Dec. 7 said he may not be ready until June, but that was debunked. He’s been participating in all drills other than hitting, which is the next hurdle. The tentative time for his return between late April and early May. We will have a better timetable during Spring Training.

Michael Brantley is just entering his prime and someone the Indians could build around for years. He has shown some power and speed, with three straight 10 HR/10 SB seasons. He spent most of the 2015 season heading in front of Carlos Santana, arguably the Indians best power hitter. Brantley will still be a top outfield pick, but with his return date uncertain, his ADP fluctuates. Once we have a clearer picture, he will move either up or down on draft boards.

Projections: 130 hits, 11 home runs, 60 RBI, 10 steals, .300 average

Draft: Round 11