Andrew Miller and The Art of the Dumpster Dive

Facing one of the worst offenses in baseball last night, Andrew Miller yielded 10 baserunners, became the first pitcher to give up a home run to Orlando Hudson all season, and walked away with a no-decision, despite facing an unimpressive mound opponent and pitching for a clearly superior team.

He also pitched out of trouble multiple times, pitched backwards when he needed to, and induced nine whiffs out of 89 pitches. For a pitcher making his first big league start of the year following an 8.54 ERA last season, three runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings ain’t half bad. Clay Buchholz‘s stint on the disabled list might not hurt much at all.

A closer look at Miller’s outing shows more good signs than bad, 4.72 FIP notwithstanding. He punched out six Padres, and threw 65% of his pitches for strikes (a tick better than league average). He threw 1-0 change-ups and 2-1 sliders. Though he surrendered seven hits, the first two were of the infield variety, the third a roller by Chase Headley that barely scooted through the hole on the left side.

Miller was at his best in the 4th. Jesus Guzman led off the inning by clubbing a triple to dead center (Jacoby Ellsbury might have had a play on the ball, but he misjudged it at first, which may have caused him to rush his leap against the wall). Miller then got Hudson to pop out, struck out Cameron Maybin (the other main attraction who went to the Marlins in the Miguel CabreraDontrelle Willis deal), and got Anthony Rizzo to fly out to end the inning. The Guzman triple, Hudson homer, and the Rizzo double that chased Miller in the 6th fooled nobody. But if this is what the Red Sox should come to expect from their 5th starter, they’re in even better shape than we thought.

That Miller is even on Boston’s roster is an intriguing development. The #6 overall pick in the 2006 draft, he came out of North Carolina as a rare baseball commodity: an accomplished lefty with a fastball that could touch the high-90s. He struggled with command in Detroit, then struggled some more with the Marlins. But as polished as his employers might have deemed him to be, few pitchers have any business pitching in the major leagues the same year they get drafted, Miller included. Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised that Miller found his greatest success at Triple-A Pawtucket this season (including a 22-to-1 K/BB rate in his final three starts there). It may have simply taken him five years to overcome getting jerked around from the majors to the minors and back, without getting a chance to properly refine his stuff.

In fact, perhaps the most encouraging sign from last night was Miller rediscovering some (albeit not all) of that lost velocity. Per Brooks Baseball, Miller’s four-seam fastball sat around 93, his two-seamer around 94. Though it’s only one start, that’s an encouraging bump from the 91 he averaged in three years with the Marlins. Miller never had enough command of his slider and change-up to succeed while throwing in the low 90s. Two or three ticks higher, and he just might. And seven combined whiffs on the slider and change-up last night offer a glimpse of what could happen if those pitches improve from early-career levels as well.

You don’t give up on talent like Miller’s, and the Red Sox did well to throw a minor league deal at a talented pitcher who could help them address what looked like one of the team’s biggest weaknesses earlier in the season: the back of the rotation. The second-best team in the AL faced a similar problem after Cliff Lee spurned them, Andy Pettitte opted to retire, and Phil Hughes turned into a pumpkin (at least temporarily). The Red Sox could point to Miller’s relative youth and pedigree in scooping him up; what the Yankees did in grabbing Bartolo Colon was dumpster-diving of the highest degree. It’s also proved to be one of the best off-season moves by any team.

High-revenue clubs like the Yankees and Red Sox will extend their share of non-roster spring training invites and minor league contract offers, same as any other team. But being willing to give such players a legitimate chance at a roster spot, much less a prominent role, is another matter altogether. Granted, the Yanks and Sox typically have more talented rosters and thus fewer jobs to hand out. But you wonder how much stigma a team might face when it gets its hands a little too dirty — ‘You have a $200 million payroll, and we’re paying to watch this guy?’ — that type of scenario.

It’s encouraging, then, to see New York and Boston management look past those sentiments and start to sweat the small stuff. When J.P. Ricciardi acquired Jose Bautista from the Pirates for a player to be named later in 2008, he didn’t have high expectations. “This guy isn’t like Mike Schmidt,” the Jays then-GM told the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin. “He’s not going to come out and hit 40 home runs.” Ditto for the Rays and Carlos Pena. Tampa Bay actually cut the big first baseman during spring training of 2007; they only called him back because projected starting first baseman Greg Norton got hurt that same day.

Obviously, neither team knew what they had. But having the freedom to try new players due to flawed rosters and smaller payrolls made those success stories possible.

In the cases of Miller and Colon, necessity was the mother of invention: No matter how much money a team has, finding 12 good pitchers to fill a staff will always be a formidable task. If the Yankees and Red Sox focus their dumpster-diving attention mostly on finding cheap, capable arms, so be it. As long as they keep doing it. Just because you can afford filet mignon doesn’t mean you should ignore the occasional cheap, greasy, delicious burger.



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Jonah Keri is the author of The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First -- now a National Bestseller! Follow Jonah on Twitter @JonahKeri, and check out his awesome podcast.


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Chris
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Chris
5 years 1 month ago

It must be said that these guys are pitching for the two teams where run support is never a concern. I doubt these guys would be as successful on many other teams in the league.

Derek
Guest
Derek
5 years 1 month ago

One could say the opposite that they would be more successful on other teams because they play in a harder division.

filihok
Guest
5 years 1 month ago

One could say that since they are on the two best teams in that division, the difficulty of playing in that division is somewhat mitigated.

Ryan Vogelsong
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Ryan Vogelsong
5 years 1 month ago

What about me? I should be at the top of any list of 2011 dumpster-baubles.

AndyS
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AndyS
5 years 1 month ago

I feel like this article is hailing this as a success already, even though we’ve only seen one MLB start from him. One with a 4.72 FIP, as you cite.

Why should we be excited that he pitched well in Pawtucket? He’s always been good in the minors, outside of 2010.

Right now, Miller has shown nothing. He’s just shown that he’s Miller. You say you don’t give up on talent like Andrew Miller’s? There’s a time to give up for every player. If not…

You don’t give up on talent like Andy Marte.

Reverend Black
Guest
Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“Why should we be excited that he pitched well in Pawtucket? He’s always been good in the minors, outside of 2010.”

The last time Miller pitched regularly in the minors at all was ~70 innings in 2007 split between A and AA. He threw ~18 sub-AAA innings in 2008 and 20 innings in 2009 (only 11 of which were at AAA).

So one answer to your question is that Miller this year in Pawtucket was pitching to the greatest success at the highest level of his career – ever. For literally any other high-ceiling pitching prospect, that progress is unarguably exciting.

It’s not unreasonable to be extra-skeptical of Miller in light of his history. But given the return of his stuff, the progress he’s made limiting walks, and the brand new overall success just mentioned, it’s also not at all unreasonable to be excited.

sirvlciv
Member
sirvlciv
5 years 1 month ago

Um, when the Yankees signed Colon, it was as a middle reliever and 6th (or 7th) starter on the depth chart. They didn’t sign him to be the #2 pitcher on the staff.

I think that qualifies as ‘dumpster diving’, and only ludicrous Yankee-hating would make one say otherwise.

sirvlciv
Member
sirvlciv
5 years 1 month ago

dangit, meant to reply to Antonio Bananas.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 13 days ago

Really? He was to add pitching depth, because they had NONE. It’s not dumpster diving. It’s a necessity. Dumpster diving isn’t a necessity.

NMS
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NMS
5 years 1 month ago

“In fact, perhaps the most encouraging sign from last night was Miller rediscovering some (albeit not all) of that lost velocity. Per Brooks Baseball, Miller’s four-seam fastball sat around 93, his two-seamer around 94. Though it’s only one start, that’s an encouraging bump from the 91 he averaged in three years with the Marlins.”

Coming out of college people talked about Miller like he was a 96 mph lefty, which – as far as his college days goes – wasn’t accurate at all. He was capable of going that high with the 4-seamer every now and then but it wasn’t a regular feature of his. He wasn’t something he even seemed to try to do all that often. He was much more comfortable generating weak contact with the low-90s two-seamer and using the movement on that pitch and his slider to get Ks. He has never been a guy that tried to get Ks by dialing up some velo on his fastball. Further, most college starters throw a few mph slower as pros than they did in college due to 2 less days of rest between starts and the increased wear and tear of pro ball.
Another reason folks think of him as a 96 mph guy is that his first few big league games came out of the pen with the Tigers. I remember him touching 96 in those outings, but it is common for a guy to throw harder from the pen than the rotation. Excitement about being in the big leagues so soon might have also caused him to overthrow a little bit to light up the gun in his first few games.

So, while getting the velo back up from the 91 he showed with the Marlins is a good sign (I have heard reports of the Marlins tinkering with his mechanics to help his command, only to ruin his command and velo), it is unrealistic to think that there is more velocity in Miller waiting to be rediscovered. If the velocity numbers from last night are accurate then Miller DOES have his velocity back and what Sox fans should be looking for isn’t any extra velocity but better command in the zone.. which might lead to fewer pitches like the ones that Rizzo and Hudson crushed.

You note that “Though he surrendered seven hits, the first two were of the infield variety, the third a roller by Chase Headley that barely scooted through the hole on the left side.” If you’re a Sox fan this has to be encouraging. This is the kind of stuff Miller does when he is pitching well. He generates dribblers and weak contact. If the D turns more of those into outs, he could thrive

Troy
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Troy
5 years 1 month ago

Will be really interesting to see what happens to Miller when the Sox have to make a roster move.

Will Miller be the one to go? If so, he will have to be DFA’d because he is out of options. In most cases, it might be worth a claim on a guy like him.

However, he has that contract stipulation that guarantees him $3M in 2012 if a team does claim him. Might be worth a chance to pay that kind of money for a one year deal if you are a team with some cash. He is about two weeks away from getting super-two status for this year so he is probably looking at north of $1.5M in 2012 anyways.

joe
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joe
5 years 1 month ago

3 runs in 5.2 IP ain’t half bad….. until you consider who he faced….

30th in runs
29th in OBP
29th in Avg
30th in SLG

10 baserunners and 3 runs in 5.2IP against that team is pretty bad….This team has broken the 3run barrier a grand total of 6 other times in the month of June.

joe
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joe
5 years 1 month ago

oops… sorry not meant as a reply…. weird things happen when you refresh sometimes.

Greg
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Greg
5 years 1 month ago

They’re 15th in wOBA on the year when away from Petco Park.

To use your own measures, when playing away from home they’re:
12th in Runs
5th in Avg
9th in OBP
17th in SLG

They’re quite clearly an average to above average offensive team that just happens to play in the most extreme pitchers park in the majors. And guess what? They weren’t playing at home.

pft
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pft
5 years 1 month ago

I believe MLB did not approve the contract with that option and it was removed.

Red Sox will not send him through waivers and let the Yankees jump on him.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

WHAT’S MOST AMAZING IS HE’S DOING THIS IN THE AL EAST!!!!! In any other division in baseball he’d be throwing shutouts every night. What an amazing division. If I had to rank all teams 1-5, 4 of the top 5 would be AL East teams, and then the Phillies. How awesome is Miller? He’ll win a Cy Young someday, if not today. It’s unbelievable that they let anyone else even play baseball on TV except for the AL East. Miller is so good, I mean yea his ERA was almost 5 against one of the shittiest offensive teams in baseball. Yes he is 26 so he’s not likely to get much better. Yes his career ERA is 5.82 and his FIP doesn’t really suggest he’ll do better. But DAMNIT the Red Sox are the smartest team in baseball. In fact, the top 5 smartest teams in baseball are 4 AL East teams and the Phillies.

What a crock of shit. If I want to see someone fellate the Red Sox for something that’s not at all impressive, and really something teams do all the time, teams with less financial flexibility when they mess up, I’ll watch ESPN.

Stone Pony
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Stone Pony
5 years 1 month ago

Well said sir.

Bill
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Bill
5 years 1 month ago

The AL East has 4 of the top 11 teams in WAR. And 3 of them have been great for awhile. I know you’re a little sensy because the team you root for is probably mired in mediocrity, but that doesn’t mean the truth isn’t the truth.

Noom
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Noom
5 years 1 month ago

This post is actually going to be the new entry for “Jealousy” in Webster’s next edition.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

I’m not jealous of AL East teams. I just think the amount of exposure they get is unhealthy. It’s not good for baseball, and it’s annoying. I don’t care that they’re good. I really don’t. Also, stop using WAR as a be all end all stat. It’s a great tool. Use it as a great tool.

Boomer
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Boomer
5 years 1 month ago

Actually, I think we all see who’s the tool here.

Reverend Black
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Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“his ERA was almost 5 against one of the shittiest offensive teams in baseball … he is 26 so he’s not likely to get much better … his career ERA is 5.82”

Flawless analysis.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

love the sarcasm. However, you’re actually right. An awful offensive team hit well off him. He is 26 and most pitchers don’t get a whole lot better (especially relatively speaking when compared to their age 18-25 years) after that.

Why don’t you look up some pitchers who at 26 had career ERAs over 5. Then tell me that most of them got better and turned it around. You can even limit it to guys who were former top 100 prospects I don’t care. Andrew Miller is not a good find.

Reverend Black
Guest
Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“Why don’t you look up some pitchers who at 26 had career ERAs over 5. Then tell me that most of them got better and turned it around.”

How many of them were denied the opportunity to develop their skills against low-level competition in the minors, though? Miller is really a very unique case. There have been plenty of pitchers with his talent that have failed, but Miller was put in the Show his rookie year and given only 70 minor league innings (topping out at AA) before being trotted out against big league hitting again in 2007.

He didn’t pitch more than a few innings in the minors again until 2010, after he had been thoroughly ruined by competition he couldn’t handle.

Does the fact that he wasn’t able to handle MLB pitching as a young, underdeveloped prospect mean he’ll never be able to handle MLB pitching? I don’t think we’d say that about any other top arm if he had been rushed to the majors and crushed — Jurrjens (for example) included.

ddriver80
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ddriver80
5 years 1 month ago

love the sarcasm. However, you’re actually right. An awful offensive team hit well off him. He is 26 and most pitchers don’t get a whole lot better (especially relatively speaking when compared to their age 18-25 years) after that.

Jo Jo Reyes is showing it this year as a decently touted prospect (not Miller levels though)

And both are lefties.

Lefties generally take to around 26 or 27 to fully develop usually. Its not strange at all.

Sultan of Schwing
Guest
Sultan of Schwing
5 years 1 month ago

But apparently, he’s a good guy, banana man, just like Colon. These are good baseball stories regardless of what team/league they happen in.

How can you not pull for both these pitchers? That’s just cold.

Darryl Philbin
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Darryl Philbin
5 years 1 month ago

Oh well said, Antonio Bananas, it’s not like the AL East is known for having two teams that are consistently among the best, if not the best, in baseball, and another young exciting team that succeeds on strategies applauded by fangraphs. And given those facts it makes so little sense that there would be approximately one article every three or four days that at least tangentially connects to an AL East.

So Jonah, stop writing about the exciting things the best team in baseball (Red Sox), most prestigious franchise ever (Yankees), team that is now at the cutting edge of sabermetrics (Rays), team that has the best player in baseball right now (Jays), and team that is loaded with young and exciting prospects (Orioles). I would much rather read about Ronny Cedeno’s emergence as a 0.4 WAR player or tonight’s exhilarating Livan Hernandez-Doug Fister matchup.

futurecfo
Member
5 years 1 month ago

Woah woah you had me until the Livan Hernandez joke. If you want a story about an under-appreciated pitcher… But seriously, you got the rest right; FanGraphs writes about the AL East because there is a lot of talent to write about. Also, Charlie Blackmon plays for the Rockies, so Carson single-handedly keeps everything balanced.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

“you don’t give up on a talent like Miller” really? Didn’t that study show that like 80% of top 100 pitching prospects fail? So really, yea you do. I don’t care that he’s the guy scouts grow a big rubbery one over, being “tall, left handed, hard thrower”. If I had a nickel for every “tall, projectable flame thrower” I heard about, I could pay scientists to genetically recreate Greg Maddux. Get over it, “tall, left handed, flame thrower” just means “if he stops throwing hard, he’s pretty worthless”. Give me a guy who’s coachable, with smarts and decent stuff over a tall guy who throws hard any day of the week. You act like Miller is Strasburg, but he’s not even Prior. He’s Andrew Miller. Tall, hard throwing, lefty.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

I remember when the Braves traded renteria to the Tigers for Jurrjens. A lot of people I knew wanted them to try for Miller somehow instead. I thought it was smart of Atlanta to go after the kid with a high pitching IQ. I remember Cox saying he was a poor man’s maddux, working the sides, and changing speeds, cruising along at 89 then popping it at 93. I was satisfied with the trade, because you rarely hear of the flame throwers panning out.

5 years later, you guys are making excuses as to why Jurrjens isn’t very good and why Miller will somehow realize his potential. It’s funny to me.

Pat
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Pat
5 years 1 month ago

You make a few interesting points, but it still must be said:

U Mad Bro?

Reverend Black
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Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“I was satisfied with the trade, because you rarely hear of the flame throwers panning out. ”

Flawless analysis.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
My echo and bunnymen
5 years 1 month ago

““I was satisfied with the trade, because you rarely hear of the flame throwers panning out. ”

Flawless analysis.”

Flawless analysis

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

Reverend Black, why don’t you go more in depth. Seriously, think of how many top pitching prospects are loved based on “they throw hard” and think of how many actually pan out. this is an article praising a 26 year old who has never pitched well and didn’t even pitch well in the game mentioned against one of the worst offensive teams in the game. It’s a stupid article. Not as a putdown, but as an abjective. It’s stupid to say anything positive about him. Who cares that the throws hard, is tall, and is left handed. He’s not effective.

Reverend Black
Guest
Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“Seriously, think of how many top pitching prospects are loved based on “they throw hard” and think of how many actually pan out.”

Even if the hype surrounding Miller amounted only to “he throws hard”, by itself that wouldn’t be a reason to like him less than a player (Jurrjens) who throws less hard. But Miller wasn’t selected 6th overall just because he threw hard.

Do you have any data that suggests hard throwing top prospects are less likely to succeed than non-hard throwing ones? I don’t know of any. (I’m not trying to make this about Jurrjens, a guy I have always liked.)

Mcneildon
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Mcneildon
5 years 1 month ago

Antonio Bananas,
I think the biggest obstacle you face, on this website, to people legitimately engaging you in discourse is that you come across as being confrontational and angry. In other words, you seem to be the kind of person who uses the term “haters.” (I doubt that you actually say that.) Before anybody even disagrees with your viewpoint, you spew vitriol towards straw men. I’m honestly not trying to zing you, or whatever. I’ve seen your posts on other threads and you always seem to be pissed at generalized opponents of your opinion.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

Yea, I kind of am an angry person on here. I usually come on here at the end of the day. Stressed out and usually something irritates me. I should come here after I workout when I get it all worked out of me. I’ll try to be more pleasant.

Reverend Black
Guest
Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“Didn’t that study show that like 80% of top 100 pitching prospects fail? So really, yea you do.”

If 80% failed and top pitching were abundant, it might make sense to give up on talent like Miller. But top pitching is instead extremely scarce (because, as the 80% figure illustrates, the required skillset is very rare). Accordingly, you should not give up on talent like Miller.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

Even when he’s 26? When he doesn’t show any signs of being better? When you could better allocate your resources to players just as good as him but are years younger? If Miller was 22, 23, like a Drabek and struggling, okay. Stick with him. However, he’s 26. So not only is he likely in that 80% of pitchers that fail, but he’s not even really a “prospect” anymore. He’s done. He’s not a good find.

What’s going to happen? is he going to be 32, still tall, still left handed, throws hard every couple months and people go “NOW HE’S REALIZING HIS POTENTIAL!!!!!”? May as well I guess. I mean, throwing hard and being tall and left handed is more important than actually, you know, pitching well.

Reverend Black
Guest
Reverend Black
5 years 1 month ago

“Even when he’s 26? When he doesn’t show any signs of being better? ”

Yes, even when he’s 26 – assuming it only costs you a spot in the minors. There’s obviously a limit on what you should give up in lieu of giving up on him, but I don’t think Boston went anywhere near those limits. He cost them a C- relief prospect and some cash. Since then, Miller has shown plenty of signs that he’s getting better.

You can say he’s not really a prospect, but when you review his developmental path, he kind of is. It isn’t as if he was groomed like most prospects, came up, and has failed since then. His development was subverted by being thrown out against competition he couldn’t handle. He never had a safe place to develop – he was always facing the best hitters on the planet.

Given some time now at a lower level, he’s made some changes and shown some growth. There’s no guarantee that he’ll be a good pitcher in the Bigs now, but there’s reason to think he could be. And it’s a risk worth taking.

Bill
Guest
Bill
5 years 1 month ago

“It must be said that these guys are pitching for the two teams where run support is never a concern. I doubt these guys would be as successful on many other teams in the league.”

Unless you’re defining “success” by Win-Loss record, no.

Tammer
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Tammer
5 years 1 month ago

I love how “Antonio Bananas” throws the Phillies in there, it just shows how transparent he is. Nobody thinks the Phillies are a “smart” team, they’re just really good and they win a lot. Sounds like you just hate hearing about successful teams. Let me guess, you root for a moderately succesful team that doesn’t get as much hype as Boston/NY/Philly (mainly because they don’t deserve it, but in your mind because of some nebulous “bias” that doesn’t really exist).

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

My Philly part was that it what the media always talks about. AL East, and Phillies. You hear a lot of their fans talking about how great their teams are. It was sarcasm. I think the Phillies are actually incredibly stupid. So much money locked up in players over 30.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

I don’t care about hype. I just want coverage. “they don’t deserve it” actually, thinking teams like the Giants and Rangers don’t “deserve” coverage is why the NFL outdraws the World Series in the ratings. No one gives a shit about teams they don’t know about.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
5 years 1 month ago

Coverage of MLB teams could be spread around a bit more (in general, not aimed at Fangraphs).

Better and more popular teams get more in-depth coverage. It is what it is.

It is unrealistic to say the Phillies are “stupid”. They have been one of the best teams in baseball for a number of years now, and have the best record in baseball right now. That sort of record of success generally doesn’t imply stupidity.

I agree that the Phils may well have to pay the piper in a year or two, as the (highly paid) core continues to age, simultaneously. They have challenges ahead. I am intensely curious to see how they cope with them. (I’m a Phils fan)

They may have traded “future” for “present”. That’s different than being “stupid”.

BTW… I poked around for about 5 minutes…

Earl Wilson was a pitcher with an ERA above 5 at age 26, and he went on to have a very nice career.

Mike Scott was close. His ERA was in the high 4’s at age 27. He had a nice career too.

This year, Charlie Morton is doing it.

So, it does happen sometimes. Probably happens more often than you think. Pitchers are flaky!

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

I think the Phillies built an incredible core, which brought them success. In a market as big as Philly, success at a high levell means a huge boost in revenue, which means you can go out and buy 3/5 of your rotation. The core that won the World Series wasn’t built by Amaro, the core that brought in the money so he could buy Oswalt, Lee, and Halladay. Amaro tied up a bunch of that money he didn’t really bring in. I feel like right now Amaro is like a sorority girl out of the house for the first time with daddy’s money and him not close to make sure he’s not stupid with it. He’s buying all sorts of things that are sparkly and fun now. It won’t last though, and unless he does a really good job with undervalued players, they’ll be the Cubs.

Tammer
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Tammer
5 years 1 month ago

HA, Braves fan was my first guess. Sorry your team makes really dumb moves dude, they manage to get by on scouting so I wouldn’t worry too much.

I bet you liked the Rick Ankiel trade too because of his “baseball IQ!”

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

No. I thought the trade was pretty meaningless.

Bill
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Bill
5 years 1 month ago

Fact: The people who complain about East-Coast bias are the same people who use phrases like “pitching IQ.”

Let me guess, you also don’t believe the AL is superior to the NL.

Sultan of Schwing
Guest
Sultan of Schwing
5 years 1 month ago

Fact: Many people who complain about East Coast bias are people who are sick and tired about articles like: 1) Gardner is elite 2) Miller is a great find. Mostly because, umm, they’re not. And if those two players played anywhere else, you wouldn’t hear a peep about them, which would be appropriate.

Addressing Keri’s work: I’ll believe that Florida gave up on Miller for no good reason when I see it. Miller has been hot for 4 games, that’s all. He’ll revert. As nice a story as it would be, he’s not going to correct his control issues in a matter of 4 games.

futurecfo
Member
5 years 1 month ago

In regards to the Brett Gardner article, I think the point was to show how unappreciated he is in NYC. I will grant you that he is not the Second Coming, but objectively he is a fast, high OBP leadoff- type hitter. He gets next to no press up in New York and is relatively obscure (ie lost his job to Andruw Jones). As for Miller, I agree; its WAY too early to be drawing any conclusions as to his success.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

fact, “pitching IQ” is a real thing. don’t be stupid. If it wasn’t, roy halladay wouldn’t be so good.

You have ANY idea how dumb it sounds when stats guys act like these aren’t real people? that “he throws hard and is tall, that makes him good” is pretty stupid. These are real people believe it or not.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

the AL may or may not be superior to the NL. you can’t really say for sure except for in years when the w/l gap is huge. Otherwise we’re usually talking about like a .555% for the AL over the course of a dozen games. That’d be like watching one NFL game between two teams, one beats the other 21-17 and saying they’re definately better. it’s not a large enough sample size and it’s usually not enough to say for sure.

Do some real analysis. See if the amount of wins the AL has more than the NL is actually significant. Don’t forget to factor in that it’s not always team number 1 in the AL vs team number 1 in the NL. Nor can you really do that because they don’t have the same number of teams.

Fact: People who don’t believe there is an east coast bias and think that Andrew Miller is good even though there is no evidence supporting it and think that Bret Gardner is an elite player, when using just about 700 ab as evidence and using evidence that’s heavily based on a debatable metric like defensive WAR also like to smell their own farts.

Greg
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Greg
5 years 1 month ago

Your posts are a joke. They’re riddled with straw man arguments, have several inaccurate statements tossed in and you contradict yourself at every turn.

I haven’t seen anyone say Andrew Miller is good. What he is, is a bit of a lottery ticket. He more than just “throws hard” as he also has great movement on his fastball and has plus secondary pitches. Regardless, for this to be a successful dumpster dive, all he has to be is a competent back of the rotation pitcher, nothing more.

Anyways, his problem stems from control issues and that’s a common problem for taller, longer limbed pitchers to have when they’re still young. Randy Johnson for example never got over that problem until he was precisely Miller’s age (and before someone criticizes bringing up Johnson, I’m in no way saying Miller will be Johnson even if he gets over the control issues, just that he’s a high profile example of a tall lanky guy struggling with control to start his career).

There are plenty other pitchers who’ve struggled up until Miller’s age as well. One recent example is Cliff Lee. In his age 25/26 season, his first full season in the majors, he posted a walk rate over 4 per 9 innings and an ERA of 5.43 (4.97 FIP, 4.71 xFIP). He never became truly dominant until his age 29/30 season in 2008.

As to your comment about Top 100 pitchers washing out at a high rate, you realize the pitchers in the back part of that list wash out at a much higher rate than the others right? He was the 10th best pitcher the only year he was eligible for those lists. Find me numbers for lets say the top 20 players, discounting players who wash out due to injuries (since he hasn’t been seriously injured to this point) and then maybe your numbers will have some meaning.

As far as his numbers this year, you realize you’re looking at one start right? You criticize looking at a year and a half of Gardner and then cite rate statistics for 5.2 innings of Andrew Miller. Also rather amusingly, you were willing to go past ERA to cite FIP for his one start, but didn’t bother to list his 3.64 xFIP for the start. Probably because it doesn’t mean much after one start, just like his ERA and FIP?

And finally, we have interleague. So apparently there are only a dozen games played each year in interleauge? Even though there are 30 teams each playing multiple interleague series? Across the leauge, there’s almost as large a sample size of interleague games as there is for a teams full season of games.

Greg
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Greg
5 years 1 month ago

****edit: He was the 10th best “Player” the only year he was eligible for prospect rankings****

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

Greg, yea it’s one start this year, but his whole career he’s been pretty bad.

If we’re gonna talk about how smart the Red Sox are, why don’t we talk about that amazing deal they got with John Lackey. Whoo hoo those are some smart fellas in the Red Sox front office.

A Reply
Guest
A Reply
5 years 1 month ago

I saw the game last night.

Miller’s problem is that his fastball command wasn’t great. He did show good velocity, however and good secondary pitches. Plus in the past, his fastball command has been much worse.

It seems to me that Miller’s ultimate destination is the bullpen. In the pen, Miller’s stuff will play up over short stints and his command doesn’t have to be as sharp. As a starter he’s a little fringy, but won’t kill you there.

He’s certainly worth Dustin Richardson,

I seriously don’t understand all of the negative comments in the thread.

aj
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aj
5 years 1 month ago

Every time a good ex prospect has a really good few games/month fangraphs generally does a story on him. Typically these guys had the talent and some flaw knocked them down and its a good story that they are doing well even if its just for a little. Rick ankiel had one earlier in the year OMG OMG HE JUST GETS COVERAGE SINCE HES A EASTCOASTER eeer wait.

uhh the post on gardner said hes elite over the past season and the half of this one. Looking at the list how can you say he hasnt been over that period of time? Even if he played for the royals with that war total he would be in the conversation of the elite players in baseball.

The east coast bias thing is pretty evident in all sports also, dont throw out the omg football doesnt have it. People constantly whine about all the cowboys and eastcoast team coverage in football as well.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 1 month ago

On the other hand, it’s kind of refreshing that teams weren’t lining up to throw a multiyear deal at a 6’7 lefty just because well, he’s 6’7 and a lefty.

Miller still has time. My questions with these guys revolve around their desire and ability to overcome failure. It’s gotta be a kick in the teeth to struggle for the first time at the ML level.

Bill
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Bill
5 years 1 month ago

“thinking teams like the Giants and Rangers don’t “deserve” coverage is why the NFL outdraws the World Series in the ratings. No one gives a shit about teams they don’t know about.”

Right, because the Philly/NY World Series came close to matching the NFL. Oops, I guess I just demolished that argument.

“You have ANY idea how dumb it sounds when stats guys act like these aren’t real people? that “he throws hard and is tall, that makes him good” is pretty stupid. These are real people believe it or not.”

Good lord, you’re all over the place. What do stats have to do with falling in love with hard throwers? Isn’t the latter something scouts (who simpletons like you would presumably place in opposition to “stat guys”) are accused of?

“Also, stop using WAR as a be all end all stat. It’s a great tool. Use it as a great tool.”

You don’t even know what you mean by this, do you. Please explain to me the difference between using it as a “be all end all” and a “tool”. I have an idea: when it confirms Antonio Bananas’ beliefs, it’s a great tool, and when it contradicts them, it’s flawed and not to be used as a be all end all.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
5 years 1 month ago

“the AL may or may not be superior to the NL. you can’t really say for sure except for in years when the w/l gap is huge. Otherwise we’re usually talking about like a .555% for the AL over the course of a dozen games. That’d be like watching one NFL game between two teams, one beats the other 21-17 and saying they’re definately better. it’s not a large enough sample size and it’s usually not enough to say for sure.”

Wow, it must suck to have a brain that works like this.

Okay, let’s take this slowly:

First you imply that we should look at individual years separately when comparing AL/NL. Then you make some incoherent claim about small sample size being bad. Well guess what, looking at years separately instead of saying, “Hey, what’s the AL record vs NL over the last 5 years?” is called taking the SMALLER SAMPLE SIZE.

Over the LARGER sample, the AL destroys the NL. I’m actually stunned you didn’t bring up the World Series argument, which you probably think is totally valid.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
5 years 1 month ago

No, using the world series and the all star game arguments are dumb ideas. The fact that each team doesn’t play everyone, the fact that the AL and NL have different amounts of teams, the fact that it’s not best record vs best record, worst record vs worst record. The fact that it’s such a few amount of games, all add up to it being pretty inconclusive. If you use your same logic in a company to change machinery, you’d get fired because it’s not conclusive enough to say for sure. Do some variance testing to see if it’s actually significant. Most years it isn’t.

joe
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joe
5 years 1 month ago

3 runs in 5.2 IP ain’t half bad….. until you consider who he faced….

30th in runs
29th in OBP
29th in Avg
30th in SLG

10 baserunners and 3 runs in 5.2IP against that team is pretty bad….This team has broken the 3run barrier a grand total of 6 other times in the month of June.

Bill
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Bill
5 years 1 month ago

Do people realize that saying he was bad is putting just as much faith in the sample size of one game as saying that he was good?

joe
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joe
5 years 1 month ago

or factoring in his minor league and previous performances?

Just a thought….

Jack Klompus
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Jack Klompus
5 years 1 month ago

Bah! What East Coast bias they have here at fangraphs. Antonio Bananas is right on the money to be so indignant about this article. I mean where is the article about Enerio Del Rosario’s 1.1 scoreless IP tonight, or how about Matt Treanor going yard last night, or did you guys see Josh Outman ring up Ronny Paulino the other night, incredible! Where are those guys write-ups? Huh, Jonah? Where’s the article about those guys, the real heroes who don’t play in the AL East, or should I say, AL Least?

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
5 years 1 month ago

For those bashing Miller’s struggles to date, why let the fact he threw less than 150 innings in the upper minors prior to this season get in the way? As far as showing nothing, small sample size in order, but he’d been fantastic in his last 4-5 starts in Triple-A. New organization, new coaching, and success using a three pitch mix that includes a 90’s plus fastball from a left-handed pitcher does make him worth working with. At worst, he should be a useful left-handed arm in the pen, at best, being able to use a three pitch mix he’s able to get through lineups multiple times. Low-risk moves that offer high reward possibilities should be lauded. Even if it doesn’t succeed, it’s worth a shot. You can’t teach a guy to be left-handed and throw hard, but you can try and teach them to repeat their mechanics. And if you want to question his pitching IQ, well I’d expect it to be relatively low, he didn’t have the time to hone his skills in the minors! He went from being able to overpower lesser hitters, to having to figure out how to mix his pitches, change eye levels, move the ball in and out, etc. against players at the highest level.

gnomez
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gnomez
5 years 1 month ago

You can’t write an article about dumpster diving without mentioning Dave Duncan.

RC
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RC
5 years 1 month ago

“It may have simply taken him five years to overcome getting jerked around from the majors to the minors and back, without getting a chance to properly refine his stuff.”

It seems like more and more, Fangraphs ignores what actually happened.

The drastic change in Miller’s control came after Boston changed his warm-up routine. He was walking guys early in his starts-they now have him pitching a simulated inning right before game time.

joe
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joe
5 years 1 month ago

Is his BB/9 improved or a function of a .235 BABIP in the minors…. does his BB% show the same gains or is he simply facing fewer batters per inning than when he was with the Marlins?

While his K/BB ratio certainly looks better (with the sample size caveats)… is it improved control or simply an improvement in his strikeout rate?

Given his BABIP’s have been all over the place it’s not so straightforward to simply look at per 9 rate stats and compare them

Slats
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Slats
5 years 1 month ago

And through all of this he was one out away from a quality start.

Shaking my head.

Brian
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Brian
5 years 1 month ago

“Pitching backwards”? That might be the problem… batters are usually at home plate.

pft
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pft
5 years 1 month ago

Can’t judge a pitcher on a handful of minor league starts and 1 start against the MLB worst offensive team.

Miller put together a decent string in 2009 with the Marlins too. The question is can he do it consistently. I think he can at least be as consistent as Daisuke (LOL)

Right now Wakefield is getting the job done and when Buchholz gets back, Miller goes to the pen and waits for Wake to have his annual injury (which is to be expected at 44)..

Socrates
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Socrates
5 years 1 month ago

I vaguely remember there being a clause in Miller’s contract that he had to be called up. If that is correct, while Detroit has some of that responsibility for giving in to that clause, I would hardly call it being jerked around.

In any case I cannot understand the Marlin’s handling of either Miller or Maybin. It has really been disappointing.

Pedey Fan
Member
Pedey Fan
5 years 14 days ago

The Sox don’t need Miller to realize his potential… they just want a meh backup starter til Lester and Buccholz get back

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