Andrew Miller may have been the unluckiest pitcher in baseball in 2008.
Miller posted a 5.87 ERA in 107 innings, and eventually earned a ticket back to triple-A. However, Miller’s BABIP was .346 – fourth highest of all pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. His LOB% was 59.9% – second highest of all pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. While BABIP and LOB% are correlated – if you give up more hits on balls in play, you’re less likely to strand runners on base – it’s not an exact correlation. For example, Miller’s LOB% was lower than the three pitchers who posted a worse BABIP this year.
The combination of Miller’s awful BABIP and awful LOB% will probably make this next statement not terribly surprising, but interesting nonetheless:
Andrew Miller had the largest discrepancy between his FIP and ERA of any pitcher in baseball who pitched at least 100 innings.
Miller’s FIP was 4.00, while his ERA was 5.87. There is no logical reason why Andrew Miller’s FIP should “overrate” him – more likely, Miller simply experienced a large confluence of random variation, leading him to give up many more runs than he “should” have.
Miller’s 89/57 K/BB ratio was less than desirable, but the high amount of strikeouts does bode rather well for him. He induced a decent number of ground balls – 45.9%, to be exact – but his track record suggests that this number may go up, thereby reducing the number of homers he allows.
I am not suggesting that Andrew Miller is going to morph into a fantasy ace next season. However, his 5.87 ERA is probably going to completely scare away many people. You, the astute fantasy player, will understand that Miller suffered from a tremendous amount of bad luck last year and is likely to see his ERA fall simply due to regression. A guy who strikes out 7.5 batters per nine and has an ERA around 4.20 is valuable, especially if he can be had very late in drafts. Furthermore, Miller has even more upside beyond that (although it’s rather unlikely that he’ll reach it in 09).
Andrew Miller is no ace (at least not yet), but he’s a heck of a lot better than his 2008 number suggest.
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