OAKLAND -- Paradoxically, what's pleased Indians manager Manny Acta most about Michael Brantley in the No. 5 hole is that Brantley hasn't become a No. 5 hitter.
"We knew he wasn't going to change his swing," Acta said. "He's a very smart kid, very fundamentally sound, mature beyond his age. He knows not only how to handle himself but he has baseball knowledge. He comes from a baseball background. He's a coach's dream."
Brantley, the son of former Major Leaguer Mickey Brantley, was thrust into the No. 5 spot because of injuries to middle-of-the-order hitters like Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore. Brantley is not a prototypical No. 5 hitter because he doesn't hit home runs, but someone has to hit there, so Acta reasoned that Brantley could handle the role without trying to make himself a power hitter.
Brantley is hitting .294 with a .343 on-base percentage. He's been one of the Indians' most consistent offensive players all season.
"He's done a tremendous job in the middle of of our order, but I don't see Michael being a middle-of-the-order hitter," Acta said.
Acta said, ideally, Brantley would hit at the top or the bottom of an order. Acta added that Brantley is not simply some slap hitter, though. He pointed out that he has 34 doubles.
"People always relate power to home runs, but if you can hit 40 doubles in a season, it's not bad," Acta said. "He's not doing it by chopping the ball over the third baseman's head. He's hitting the ball in the gap."