The Blue Jays have continued their frenzied free-agent strike, agreeing to a three-year contract with outfielder/designated hitter
Brantley follows his former Astros teammate, George Springer, to Toronto on the heels of the Jays’ agreements with right-handers Kirby Yates and Tyler Chatwood. It’s a dramatic crescendo after months of the Jays being linked to virtually every free agent on the market — one that gives Toronto one of the deepest lineups not just in the American League but in all of Major League Baseball.
While Springer was rightly heralded as the top bat on the offseason market, Brantley has a legitimate claim to being the second-best hitter available. The former seventh-round pick has displayed elite bat-to-ball skills and hit for a high average since his Major League debut back in 2009, but since a breakout showing with Cleveland in 2014, Brantley has more quietly ranked among the game’s elite bats, hitting a combined .311/.371/.481 in more than 3100 plate appearances over that stretch. In that time, Brantley’s 131 wRC+ — indicating he’s been 31 percent better than an average hitter after adjusting for park and league — ranks 29th among 398 qualified hitters. (Springer’s 134, in fact, sits just five spots higher.)
Not only has Brantley been among the best overall hitters in the game during that seven-year stretch — he’s also been one of the most difficult to strike out. Only four players have a lower strikeout percentage than Brantley’s 10.1 dating back to 2014. Springer himself has dropped his strikeout rate considerably, punching out at a career-low 17.1 percent in 2020. The Jays’ newest pairing, then, not only brings plenty of power to the table but also will further improve upon a 22.4 percent strikeout rate that was the 11th-lowest in MLB.
More to come.