Every-Thing Sports

Bill O'Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins: WTF?!?

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Texans fans have gone through enough lately. The come from ahead playoff loss to the Chiefs was enough. Yet this fan base has been nothing but loyal and supportive through it all. Despite their loyalty, It seems as if the Texans don't give a damn about what the fans think, as long as they're footing the bill. Not only did the fans weather the storm of that debacle in Kansas City, but they were rewarded with Bill O'Brien getting more power! And what does this dumbass do? He trades the best wide receiver in Texans' history!

What did they get in return

Simple answer: not a thing that's worth a damn. The actual answer: running back David Johnson, a 2nd round pick, and a swap of 4th round picks. Johnson hasn't been a real factor in the last three seasons. The 2nd rounder and 4th round swap should've included a 1st rounder, if not more. To get so little in return was like rubbing salt in the wound while pouring alcohol on it, then wrapping it in sand paper.

Stunting Deshaun Watson's growth

Having a receiver like Hopkins is a quarterback's best friend. He's relaible because he runs immaculate routes and catches anything remotely close to his catch radius. He may not have the blazing speed, but he will win most one on one battles for the ball. The only thing fans can hope for is for the team to take a receiver in the draft that can fulfill some of the Grand Canyon-sized void Hopkins leaves behind. Without a 1st rounder, that will be tough. Watson no longer has his security blanket, which will hurt his growth because he no longer has that one guy he can rely on to make the tough catch in a critical time.

O'Brien's history of buffonery

Getting what he got for Hopkins feeds the narrative of him being a dumbass as a GM. Extending Whitney Mercilus, Ka'imi Fairbairn, Nick Martin, and Bennardrick McKinney were all boneheaded moves for one reason or another. Trading Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney, and Duane Brown for quarter waters, half-smoked cigarettes, and leftover wing dinners adds uel to the dumpster fire that he's been as a personnel guy. O'Briwen is the type of GM that would not fill up his gas tank during hurricane season, only to run out of gas trying to leave the city, then get flooded in his vehicle because he get stuck in a high water area because he tried to drive through it. He's woefully inept at many of the hats he wears, yet the McNairs seem to be okay as long as the bottom line is in the black instead of the red.

Only one thing stops this madness

More and more I'm hearing Texans' fans say they're fed up. Whether they show it when it counts is another thing. The only way this type of behavoir is deemed unacceptable is if it starts to hurt the bottom line. When the team starts to lsoe money, the McNairs will finally listen. I was told by a very trusted source that only six to eight teams every year actively pursue winning a title. The others are solely out to make a profit. Should they happen to win, that's just an added bonus. The Texans are proving to be one of those profiteers.

There are moments in which a sports fan won't forget where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news. When Mark McGuire hit 62. The time Deion Sanders played in a World series and NFL game on the same day. How about the time Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive? Or the day we all found out Kobe Bryant had passed away? Some memories are fond. Others are painful. But the common thread is a memory you won't forget. For the next couple years, Texans fans have to hold out hope that this egotistical idiot knows what he's doing. They must rely on a guy who's head is so far up his own ass, his ears are clogged poop so he can't hear the logic others are trying to reason with him. All he sees and smells is his own crap so he's fully convinced it's the only way to go. Hopefully one day these fans are treated to a respectable franchise instead of a laughingstock. Unfortunately, that day seems so far off, our kids may not even get to enjoy it.

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The numbers show a concerning trend. Composite image by Brandon Strange

Michael Brantley signed a two-year, $30M deal with the Houston Astros prior to 2019 to little fanfare. The then 32 year-old was coming off of yet another injury riddled season with the Cleveland Indians, and the signing was seen as a safe gamble (if there is such a thing). Brantley would produce if healthy, but would he ever be healthy?

Brantley went on to have two of the healthiest seasons of his career, putting up big numbers for the Astros. Across two seasons, Brantley slashed .309/.370/.497 with a 134 wRC+. The Astros got the best version of Brantley, who had slashed .295/.351/.430 with a 114 wRC+ during his tenure with the Indians.

Brantley is set to hit the market once again, and the Astros face a couple of questions. One, is Brantley worth bringing back? Two, is Brantley worth a qualifying offer?

Hard Hit % - 37.3%

Barrel % - 4.9%

K % - 15%

BB % - 9.1%

Chase % - 20.1%

(All numbers from 2020)

Brantley's greatest skill is controlling the strike zone. He forces pitchers to come to him, and he's only getting better at it. His chase % was the best of his career, and it was 6% better than his 26% mark in 2019. Brantley was t-19th in MLB in chase % with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Yasmani Grandal. Brantley combines this enviable level of plate discipline with another enviable trait: he doesn't swing and miss. His 16.4% whiff % was in the 93rd percentile of MLB. By comparison, Acuña and Grandal were in the 29th and 26th percentiles respectively. Those two don't chase often because they keyhole one spot that they know they can drive. Brantley forces pitchers to come in the zone similar to those two, but he usually doesn't swing and miss when the pitchers do come to him.

However, there are some alarming trends for a hitter now well onto the wrong side of 30.

His 15% K% was the highest it's been since 2011, when he was a 24-year-old in his first full big league season. It was a 4.6% increase in K% over last season. Brantley's 16% whiff % is far and away the worst it's been in his career, and it's 5.6% worse than it was in 2019. That 5.6% is the difference between swinging-and-missing the second least in MLB and swinging-and-missing the 11th least. That's a steep drop over one season. Remember, Brantley chased pitches outside the zone the least he ever had in his career. That increase in whiff % mostly came on strikes. His contact % on strikes dropped 4.8% from 2019.

A big indicator of age is the inability to catch up with the fastball. Brantley's 13.2% whiff rate against fastballs in 2020 was the worst it's been in his career. The second worst? 7.5% back in 2011. On the surface, Brantley performed fine on fastballs in 2020. He batted .295 with a .438 SLG against them. But it gets a little uglier just one level deeper. Brantley's xBA on fastballs was .242. His xSLG was .410.

Compared to his 2019 performance against fastballs, it was quite the downturn. Brantley batted .320 against fastballs in 2019 with a .311 xBA. He slugged .501 with a xSLG of .506. Lastly, Brantley had an 89.3 average exit velocity on fastballs in 2019 compared to 87.4 in 2020. The downturn in fastball productivity is alarming.

Brantley performed great against breaking balls and offspeed pitches in 2020, but once pitchers realize that he can't stay on the fastball like he used to, Brantley will be setup for failure, not success.

Brantley doesn't run well either. His average sprint speed of 26.2 ft/s was in the 34th percentile in MLB. Brantley did perform well defensively by nearly every metric, but he was in the 39th percentile in outfielder jump. He really can't afford a downturn defensively, and with Yordan Alvarez returning as the full time DH next season, they won't have the ability to give Brantley the occasional day off his legs at DH

The qualifying offer has been set at $18.9M for the 2020 offseason. Considering Houston's lack of draft picks due to their punishment for technological sign-stealing, recouping some of that draft capital would be helpful for the club. $18.9M would represent a $3.9M raise for Brantley, which is exactly the price of not being able to bring back Brad Peacock.

It's unlikely that Brantley will regress so quickly that he'll be unplayable in 2021. He will likely be a productive ballplayer. Considering that the Astros can afford to pay the raise in salary if he accepts the qualifying offer, it is worth giving it to him. If he declines the QO, however, it isn't worth giving him a multi-year deal. There are too many signs of regression, and anything more than one year is a risk. If Brantley demands a multi-year deal, the Astros should let him walk and take the draft pick compensation.

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