Important Life Questions And Brad Miller

Life is hard. It comes with a lot of tough decisions and a lot of tough questions that don’t have easy answers. We are humans, and we will make mistakes, and we should forgive ourselves for those. I’ve been dealing with a lot of this philosophical life stuff recently, and it’s been difficult.

I’m talking, of course, about Brad Miller, and it seems I’m not alone, as the baseball community remains puzzled by an important visceral question: is Brad Miller any good?

We ask this because evidence points in different directions and agreement appears beyond our grasp. Miller is still owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues and 3.5 percent of ESPN leagues, even though he ranks 32nd in shortstop fantasy value so far.

His numbers are, well, just look: .179 average, 5 HR, 3 SB, 23 R, 17 RBI

Daphne & Celeste would probably take issue with calling those ugly, because that’s too feeble a word for it. He’s been terrible. His strikeout rate has spiked, his BABIP has tanked thanks to a drop in line drive rate and an uptick in infield flies, his power is down, he’s rarely on base to steal, he’s swinging at more bad pitches and making less contact on them and he’s now primarily hitting at the bottom of the order after opening the year in the two-hole.

We were somewhat worried about his cold start back in mid-April, and the biggest worry in his profile was a poor concept of the strike zone, which has continued. The following shows his swing rates compared to 2013:

millerheatmap

What’s more, he’s continued to struggle whiffing on hard stuff, though at least he’s hit fastballs hard enough to make pitchers think twice:

Miller FB% FB Whiff/Swing FB SLG SL% SL Whiff/Swing SL SLG
2013 36.00% 16.67% 0.253 11.68% 31.46% 0.469
2014 30.20% 24.65% 0.462 13.49% 45.45% 0.290

The fact that he’s struggling, though, isn’t what’s interesting about Miller. It’s the “okay, what next” part that is intriguing.

To wit, Miller’s rest of season wOBA, per Steamer projections, has the largest gap from his year-to-date wOBA of any shortstop with 150 plate appearances to this point and 150 projected from here on out. That is, Steamer doesn’t project bigger regression for any other shortstop, which makes sense considering he’s posted the worst qualified wOBA at .248.

Projections systems tend to do very well for rest of season performance, so maybe we should trust Miller moving forward. Jeff Sullivan asked that question on Monday, polling readers on a number of names who have ROS projections well off their current performance. (For the record, Miller is projected for a .313 ROS wOBA by Steamer and .304 by ZiPS.)

The results were somewhat striking: 67 percent thought the projections were accurate, and only 33 percent thought they were too high.

Miller had a .323 wOBA last season, so two-thirds of the voters believe Miller will perform closer to his 2013 level than his current 2014 level the rest of the way. That’s important, because from his late-June call-up onward last season, Miller ranked 10th at the position in fantasy value. His Steamer ROS projection shows eight homers, seven steals and a .253 average the rest of the way, which would have him in the same ballpark, give or take a few spots.

I am far less enthusiastic, despite the optimism I had for him earlier in the year. He seems to have lost any semblance of the discipline that made him so attractive in the minors, and while you own a skill once you display it, I’ve divested myself until the discipline profile begins to improve. He’s looked better in June – average, even, but the line drives still aren’t there while the infield flies and strikeouts are.

I realize that the projections are correct more often than not, and thinking we know better is a poor long-term strategy. But there are exceptions, and I’d tend to think players early in the development curve show up as exceptions with greater frequency, especially when their discipline has fallen off a cliff.

I guess what I’m asking is for your help answering one of life’s great questions: is Brad Miller any good?




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Blake Murphy is a news editor at The Score, and is a freelance sportswriter covering baseball, basketball, hockey and more. Think Bo Jackson, without the being good at every sport part. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.


15 Responses to “Important Life Questions And Brad Miller”

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  1. @DCameronFG says:

    Best SS in the AL. Disagree and I’ll block you. Also, Ackley>Strasburg, bitches.

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  2. I’m staying away despite decent projections, in part because even those numbers aren’t that much better than available FAs in standard 10-12 teamers. I’ll take my chances with someone like Owings/Simmons/Crawford.

    On a separate note: that swing chart vs RHP would make for a hell of a Rorschach test.

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  3. Chicago Mark says:

    Is it me or has many/most Seattle prospects failed recently? Forgive me King Felix. I don’t follow close enough. But is their AAA team in the PCL? Are expectations higher because of the inflated numbers? This just seems like another failure from this organisation. I’m not buying.

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    • Emcee Peepants says:

      This is an older article, but it looks closely at the PCL and inflated stats:

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/prospect-pulse/2008/266220.html

      The gist is that there are some ridiculous parks in the PCL but the Rainiers’ Park, had a Park Factor of 79, making it the worst hitter’s park in the PCL (arguably, one other park had fewer runs scored).

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    • joser says:

      “Recently”? The Mariners haven’t really developed a position player prospect since Griffey and ARod. They’ve had some that they gave away to be developed by other teams (Shin Soo Choo, Adam Jones, maybe Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena if you squint a little), but the best thing that happened to those guys was that they got out of the system before it permanently broke them the way it broke every prospect Seattle drafted or traded for. (Kyle Seager must feel the target on his back every night)

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  4. ImDownWithOBP says:

    I drafted Miller in my twelve team mixed H2H as my starting MI, and needless to say, that MI spot has been a black hole all year. Last week I went shopping on the waiver wire and Miller was among the final three candidates I found to fill the spot. My decision came down to Miller, Chris Owings, and Roughned Odor. I eliminated Miller for the same reasons you mention above: namely his absolute lack of any discipline at plate. There is really nothing in his profile this year that indicates a turn around is coming. That said, I still like him long term, as he has enough of a minor league track record of good plate discipline to indicate that he will be able to bring those skills to the majors eventually. But for now, no thanks Brad Miller.

    I eliminated Owings, because he is now being platooned, and I went with Odor. This is a high variance choice, but I am currently sitting in 2nd, so I think I can afford to gamble on his power/speed upside.

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  5. Thufir says:

    will be very interesting to see what happens with Chris Taylor.

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  6. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Jesus Christ, it’s honestly impressive how thoroughly the Mariners ruin every decent hitter they get.

    I’m just astonished that Seager has somehow escaped intact.

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  7. Stephen says:

    Can we do the same thing for Jason Castro?

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  8. Alex says:

    I’m just glad people are still concerned about the guy. Makes me sad how poorly his season has gone, given how much I loved him last year. I’m OK with this season being a lost one, especially if I can get him for $1 in next year’s draft (after I overpaid this year when he became a trendy sleeper after his spring training performance). This is all contingent on if he actually returns to form and figures out where the strike zone is, of course…

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  9. GFuzz says:

    I was high on him and finally dropped him, so queue the dramatic turn around. He even homered in his first AB this week.

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  10. Wobatus says:

    Nothing in his minor league or college track record suggests he’d have such K problems, but of course he never stayed anywhere in the minors long enough for holes to be exploited, and they have much better scouting and pitching in the majors. I know that is stating the obvious. But it seems more like he somehow got off his approach.

    Regardless, in tiny samples, for June he’s at .275/.333/.451 for a 113 wRC+. Still a 25%+ k rate. Last 30 days .254/.329/.388, with a slightly lower K rate. That seems more in line with the doable and his career numbers. Also matches up with Steamer ROS projection of .254/.315/.389. Batting 9th, with Taylor maybe coming later (at least for at bats against lefties), he isn’t going to be a star rest of way probably, but serviceable in fantasy as depth.

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  11. I Like Baseball Sports says:

    For a SS, he’s been really good for a month, now, and has been raking over the last two weeks. Does that change things a bit? Honest question. Trying to decide if I should pick him up.

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    • Wobatus says:

      Another homer last night. The hole was so deep the season line doesn’t look great but 15 homers in his career now of 144 games. He’s had a very good June. Now it’s Xander Bogaerts in free fall.

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