Andrew Miller’s Iffy Future

Andrew Miller has two articles linked on his page. One directs to a RotoGraphs piece written by the Talented Mr. Bendix and clicking the other will lead to a detailed look at the tallest rotations. This is not what most people had presumably predicted would headline on Miller’s page back when the Tigers selected him sixth overall in 2006. The first place Tigers pulled the draft equivalent of a heist by popping the North Carolina ace over signability concerns. Miller provided plenty of reasons to be excited. For one, being a tall lefty with a live fastball and plus breaking pitch naturally gains you status amongst the baseball folk. He inhaled strikeouts and exhaled weakly hit grounders.

18 months later, the Tigers traded Miller to the Florida Marlins to acquire Miguel Cabrera. Since then, Miller settled on the brink of irrelevancy. The most notable thing about his off-season is being placed in the Arizona Fall League to work on his altered delivery (as detailed by Keith Law) and whether he’ll make the Marlins’ rotation out of spring. Since joining the Marlins he’s struck out a little over seven per nine while walking nearly five. He’s a groundballer, which allows for some leniency on the walks, but still, that’s not a great ratio. It’s also worth noting that a high BABIP has lead to a below average strand rate.

Over the last two seasons he’s appeared in 49 games for the Marlins while totaling a little shy of 190 innings. If that doesn’t seem like a lot of time that’s because it’s not. The biggest knocks on him right now are inconsistent control and health; a combination that usually leads to frustration and a transition to the bullpen. Miller actually finished last season in the pen while the Marlins rolled with a six-man rotation. Pitchers with high strikeout and walk rates are generally more successful after transitioning to relief, so writing Miller off based on his previous relief work is laughable with the current sample size.

Normally options wouldn’t come into play with 2006 draftees. Even if the player reached the Majors in 2008, they would still have at least one option remaining. Because of a clause in Miller’s contract which dictated he be promoted to the Majors at the end of his first professional season, he burned one of those options almost immediately. The Tigers then optioned Miller to the minors to begin 2007. That’s two seasons, two options used. The Marlins did not option Miller in 2008, but did send him to the minors in July 2009, which normally would mean Miller could not be sent to the minors without passing through waivers. However, since he does not have five professional seasons yet, the Marlins will hold a fourth option year.

That gives Florida the ability to send Miller down to New Orleans where he can continue to work on his new delivery and wait on the inevitable Anibal Sanchez injury. Such a predicament all but guarantees Miller will remain a starter. However, if the injury and inconsistency bugs continue to harvest on his ability, it could be inevitable that Miller winds up in the bullpen.

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9 Responses to “Andrew Miller’s Iffy Future”

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  1. panicstreak says:

    In relation to the Cabrera trade, obviously its terribly lopsided in favor of the Tigers. Miller/Maybin are still ways away from making any impact. Epic fail by Marlins scouting dept? Major heist by Dombrowski or combination of both?

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily say it was terribly lopsided in favor of the Tigers, certainly its worked out better than expected though. Cabrera has performed basically equal to his contract is paying him and Willis has not pitched even remotely well.

      Maybin still has upside, and even if he doesn’t develop an above average bat his defense and position is enough to make him a 2-3 WAR player.

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      • adohaj says:

        It seems lopsided to me. A player Like Miguel doesn’t come around that often. Remember he is only 26. He may still have 10 years of his extremely consistent production left.

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      • Michael says:

        Trading Cabrera was a necessity; the Marlins were not going to be able to resign him. So while he is 26 and could still contribute ten or so more years down the road, the only value he held for the Marlins was for the next two seasons. If you conservatively guessed a 4-win player in each of those years, you’d get maybe $30M in surplus value.

        Judging Maybin and Miller (and even Willis really) after the fact isn’t fair to the organizations who had to make the deal before knowing the results. If Maybin develops into a 3-win player for his next six seasons, he’ll make back those two seasons of value Cabrera would have provided in 2008 and 2009 for the Marlins.

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    • Zack says:

      I dont think you can say it either way. You cant look back and say oh Prosect A, B, and C were busts so Detriot pulled a fast one. At the time the prospects were highly rated by everyone, and Florida got alot of potential back for a guy they couldnt resign; unfortunately that potential hasnt traslated into results yet.

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    • Travis L says:

      Remember that you can really only compare the trade to Cabrera’s one year production with detroit, before his big contract extension. And while he is one of the “special” talents in the game, the Tigers are paying him as such, which means it’s not really a “deal” (he’s just a hell of a player).

      But his current production should be evaluated to his contract, not in terms of the original trade.

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  2. hjghassell says:

    I don’t see said links on his page. A better link would be appreciated.

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  3. Circlechange11 says:

    It’s also still possible that Miller puts it together as a starter. I’m going to guess that prep and colle ball were a breeze for him, and his first real struggles on a baseball field occurred at the ML level. He still has time to figure it out. He still has all the things you cannot teach … and some time to learn the things that can be taught.

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  4. Deborah says:

    Andrew Miller is a special pitcher. He has soooooh much talent and it is being wasted in the minor leagues. You only learn by doing, so they should let him learn by doing in the majors. There are pitchers with the marlins who really suck and who can’t compete with his talent. They should give Andrew another chance to prove himself or they may just lose him to another team that are bitter rivals to the marlins.

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