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HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 24: Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros hits a three run home run in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners during Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on July 24, 2020 in Houston, Texas. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Michael Brantley is off to a hot start this season, but can he keep it going and finish with a (prorated) repeat of his 2019 campaign?

After playing just 101 games over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Michael Brantley had a solid and healthy 2018 for the Cleveland Indians (.

309, 17 home runs 76 RBI, .832 OPS over 61 plate appearances). He signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Houston Astros after the season.

Lost in shuffle of the Astros’ sign stealing scandal is what Brantley did last season. He posted a .311/.372/.503 slash-line, as he set a career high with 22 home runs, with a career-best 40 doubles and 90 RBI. The .311 average was fourth in the American League, and he was also top-10 in hits (179; third) and doubles.

Entering Friday’s action, Brantley is off to a hot start in 2020. He has a hit in all six games thus far, with multiple hits four times and in three of the last four. Overall he’s hitting .435 (10-for-23) with an 1.196 OPS, one home run, three doubles, six RBI and five runs scored.

Can Michael Brantley keep it going?

Before and after injuries threw his career off, if only to offer better samples, Brantley has combined a solid walk rate with a low strikeout rate. Along with good plate discipline he makes a ton of contact, in the 90 percent range every year (via FanGraphs). Even with a heavier ground ball tilt than is ideal (45.3 percent in 2019), Brantley’s contact is typically not “soft” contact (just 13.3 percent last year).

More balls in play provides more opportunities for hits. But Brantley’s BABIP has never been so elevated (.325 last year, per FanGraphs) that a .300 average would be vulnerable to a correction in fortune.

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The 60-game sprint that will be the 2020 MLB season means raw stats will look different than any other season (in other words, lower). Specific to Brantley, he won’t be hitting 22 homers, driving in 90 or hitting 40 doubles in the truncated season.

But if we use his 148 games from last year, here’s how Brantley’s numbers would have prorated over 60 games.

9 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, 16 doubles

Allow for a missed game or two, and the raw numbers above don’t change much. Here’s how the projections from Brantley’s FanGraphs page look.

ZiPS (46 games): .302/.361/.470 slash, 6 home runs, 26 RBI, 26 runs scored
Steamer (45 games): .289/.349/.464 slash, 6 home runs, 28 RBI, 26 runs scored 

Through six games, Brantley’s current 60-game pace would be 10 home runs, 36 RBI, 30 runs scored and 18 doubles. That is very close to how his 2019 numbers would have looked over 60 games, which shows sustainability.

Brantley won’t finish the season with a .435 batting average or get on-base half the time, even if this is the ultimate “never say never” season with such a short set of games. But a .300 average, with an OBP in the .360-.370 range and a slugging percentage between .450 and .500 look like easy marks, to go with 8-10 home runs, 35-40 RBI, 30-40 runs scored and 15-20 doubles. In fantasy baseball terms, assuming we get through a full 60 games or something close, Brantley might be a top-10-12 outfielder when it’s all said and done.

So can Brantley repeat his 2019 campaign this year? The evidence suggests the answer is yes, even though the counting stats will of course be prorated. But this is a long-standing sustainable skill set and batted ball profile, with health the only thing that has derailed it in terms of bigger sample sizes to evaluate.

Next: 3 Kansas City Royals who could make leap in 2020

News Source: fansided.com

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Father of Michael Brown Jr. attends Breonna Taylor protest in Louisville, Kentucky

The father of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, was among the 200 people who gathered in Kentucky on Saturday in Breonna Taylor's memory, CBS Louisville affiliate WLKY-TV reports. Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot dead by officers during a drug raid inside her home in March.

The group gathered near a mural depicting Taylor with the goal of holding police accountable.

"The message is arrest the cops responsible for killing Breonna Taylor," said Tamika Mallory of Until Freedom, an out-of-state activist group behind Saturday's event. "I think we all know we have a responsibility to be out here for Breonna Taylor but not just for her, this is for our own lives. This is for our children and generations to come."

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Sunday also marked the sixth anniversary of Michael Brown's death. His father, Michael Brown Sr., addressed the crowd, saying, "When you go through something like that so traumatic, it's hard to find a balance. The only thing you want is justice."

"I'm very grateful to be here and memorialize Breonna Taylor," he added.

Michael Brown Sr. seen at a Breonna Taylor protest on Saturday, August 8, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. His son was killed six years ago by police in Ferguson, Missouri. CBS affiliate WLKY-TV

On March 13, police entered Taylor's home with a no-knock warrant. The officers fatally shot Taylor while looking for illegal drugs, which were never found. Officials have claimed that they only shot at Taylor after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them first. 

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Taylor's family has claimed that Walker shot at the officers because they did not announce themselves when they entered the home, and he thought they were trying to break in. 

Only one of the three officers involved in Taylor's death has been fired. None of the officers have been charged. Taylor's family filed a lawsuit against the officers in May, accusing them of wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence.

The lawsuit, obtained by CBS News, alleges that Officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson and Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly — who are named as defendants — arrived at the home in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles.

The family's lawsuit alleges "the officers then entered Breonna's home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers. The Defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life." Taylor was struck eight times.

In wake of the 26-year-old's death, Oprah Winfrey launched a billboard campaign across Louisville demanding justice. In addition, the September cover of Winfrey's magazine will feature a portrait of Taylor.

Breonna Taylor seen in an undated photo. Handout

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