Brad Miller!

Dave · July 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m sold.

No, he’s not going to keep this up, since as I type this, he has a 138 wRC+, which is six points higher than Ken Griffey Jr’s career mark of 132. 44 plate appearances don’t tell you anything about anyone, really. Remember how awesome Vernon Wells and Yuniesky Betancourt were back in April? Miller could still have a serious flaw that we just haven’t seen yet. Dustin Ackley is a constant reminder of that. Jumping to conclusions based on a few weeks of performance is simply not a good idea.

But, yeah, Brad Miller. He’s not really doing anything in Seattle that he didn’t do in the minors. He’s drawing walks, making enough contact, and hitting line drives. He’s slugging .487 without yet hitting his first Major League home run. He runs really well, and is going to add value on the bases. His defense hasn’t even been bad, much less horrifyingly unplayable.

If we were going to pick nits, the strikeout rate could be problematic in the long term, especially against left-handed pitchers. Guys who strike out a decent amount generally need to hit for power to offset the reduced number of balls in play, and Miller’s probably not going to be a big time power guy. There aren’t a ton of players who strike out 20% of the time, hit few home runs, and are still productive hitters. Miller’s faced almost entirely right-handed pitching so far, and he could be susceptible to posting some significant platoon splits, which would bring down his overall offensive numbers as a full-time player.

But as long as Miller can stick at shortstop, he doesn’t have to be a great hitter. An average hitter is a pretty spectacular shortstop as long as he can defend the position, and there are plenty of reasons to think that Miller could easily be that kind of average hitter while playing the position. If he pulls a Kyle Seager or Nick Franklin and hits for more power than you’d expect from his frame, being an above average hitter isn’t out of the question. He certainly hits the ball hard enough to envision a lot of doubles, and maybe some of those will eventually turn into home runs.

We’re dealing with less than two weeks of baseball games, so there’s still plenty of time for the Brad Miller experiment to go terribly wrong in the second half. And it might. Baseball is weird that way. But he hasn’t given us any reason to think a total collapse is likely, and he’s shown more than enough to think that he could be the long term answer at shortstop for the organization.

Justin Smoak‘s latest power surge and Raul Ibanez‘s hilarious age defying season have gotten more headlines, but replacing Brendan Ryan with Brad Miller is one of the primary reasons this offense has looked pretty good over the last few weeks. As I write this, Miller’s wOBA is 130 points higher than Ryan’s, which is basically the equivalent of replacing Justin Smoak with Miguel Cabrera. He’s going to regress, and he might even regress a lot, but Brad Miller is showing enough that I think the Mariners can plan on him starting at shortstop on Opening Day next year.

He might play himself out of that job with more exposure to big league pitching, or the defensive problems from his minor league days might reappear, but right now, Brad Miller looks like a real franchise building block.


50 Responses to “Brad Miller!”

  1. IwearMsHats on July 9th, 2013 10:23 pm

    Hell yeah!

  2. Slats on July 9th, 2013 10:26 pm

    I am dreaming of playoffs next season.

  3. Slats on July 9th, 2013 10:27 pm

    Miller shall be known as Crazy Legs.

  4. Sports on a Shtick on July 9th, 2013 10:35 pm

    Looking forward to Miller & Franklin becoming a Seattle institution up the middle.

    Plus you gotta love Brad’s old school style.

  5. gopilots70 on July 9th, 2013 10:59 pm

    “….which is basically the equivalent of replacing Justin Smoak with Miguel Cabrera.”

    Love that line…looking good!!

  6. Westside guy on July 9th, 2013 11:14 pm

    Crazy Legs sure runs with abandon on the bases!

    Watching Miller, Franklin, Saunders, and Ackley on the basepaths has been fun recently. I was just going to say “the young guys” rather than name them individually, but there’s another young guy who’s probably the slowest runner on the team. Well, most of them are fast anyway!

  7. _David_ on July 9th, 2013 11:25 pm

    I remember fondly the talk of him being a big reach in the draft. I remember he had some kind of issue with his swing. Is that still there/real?

  8. bookbook on July 9th, 2013 11:51 pm

    I haven’t heard Dave so enthusiastic about a Mariner since Ackley came up in 2011!

    On the other hand, if he strikes out a bunch against left-handed batters, that could be a real problem, especially in the AL.

  9. fcb on July 10th, 2013 1:14 am

    I’n my eight or so years reading this blog every day, one universal truth has stood out: The Dave Cameron Prospect Stamp of Approval is a kiss of death. Watch him post a sub .600 OPS for the rest of the year. Dave just HAD to make this post, didn’t he?

  10. jephdood on July 10th, 2013 1:19 am

    Blake Beavan!


  11. Rusty on July 10th, 2013 4:47 am

    Wow! That was quick.

  12. Rusty on July 10th, 2013 4:55 am

    Someone needs to tell Jesus Montero that the future of this team has left the station and that he better jump aboard quickly or risk being left behind for good.

  13. PackBob on July 10th, 2013 6:55 am

    The second wave of prospects has sure looked more promising than the first wave. Seager is the exception, but he wasn’t considered one of the first wave’s top prospects. Both Miller and Franklin exude energy and enthusiasm, which may help them overcome obstacles and any of Wedge’s getting into their heads with how much pressure rookies are under.

    I like Miller’s and Franklin’s base running probably as much as anything else they are doing. After all the chugging choo-choos the M’s imported, its refreshing to see players that can run.

  14. eddie on July 10th, 2013 7:24 am

    Brad Miller sounds like a guy other teams have, you know, Atlanta Braves shortstop, perennial all star, Brad Miller.

    You gotta love the way he runs, it’s exhilarating! Like Ichiro in his prime sorta. You get Miller running, then Franklin and Seager it’s like a track meet. With Morales (shot put) and Ibanez (discus) and Smoak (javelin).

  15. Rick L on July 10th, 2013 7:32 am

    He has the second highest OPS on the team (.831 after Raul’s 8.53)

  16. don52656 on July 10th, 2013 7:46 am

    Bravo, Dave, and I totally agree with the premise of your post. Despite the loss last night, it is so nice to see 7 of the 9 in the lineup being possible parts of the Mariner future instead of place-holders. It’s also exciting think that we may have 3-4 more of the current wave of prospects to go (Hultzen, Paxton, Walker, Romero). If the past couple of weeks are a prelude of things to come, the Mariners will be a handful in August/September, and next year might be the most fun we’ve had as fans in over a decade.

    So, my biggest question is whether the recent surge of hitting from Mr. Smoak is a sign of real change or just a short-sample hot streak. It sure appears to me that he is becoming a legitimate hitter but that could be wishful thinking on my part. Just how long would it take for an analyst to conclude that it’s not wishful thinking, and that Smoak is a late bloomer?

  17. 300ZXNA on July 10th, 2013 8:04 am

    Awesome to see some true hope in the organization! If Hultzen and Walker can break camp next year with the club, and if Zunino can take the next step, this team might start to look mighty intriguing . . .

  18. nwade on July 10th, 2013 8:11 am

    Dave – You’re going to ruin your status as an agitator and ne’er-do-well if you write positive pieces like this! I’m just sayin’…

    (and hell yeah, am I being happily surprised by both Franklin and Miller. *Guarded* optimism, all ’round!)

  19. eponymous coward on July 10th, 2013 8:12 am

    Awesome to see some true hope in the organization! If Hultzen and Walker can break camp next year with the club, and if Zunino can take the next step, this team might start to look mighty intriguing . . .

    This team is still a team with zero, nil, none, bupkis, nada outfielders under long term contract under 30 who’ve shown any long-term ability to be consistently average MLB performers (which is not an incredibly high bar- I don’t think any organization been as incompetent at developing OFers to produce in their organization as the M’s have been over the past 20 years). The closest we have is Saunders, who’s had a grand total of one season where he was OK, and has a lifetime OPS of .650, lifetime WAR of 2 in about 3 MLB seasons.

    We’re a ways out from being good still, even if the middle infield defensive skill positions are starting to improve nicely. This is still going to be a slog for a while.

  20. 300ZXNA on July 10th, 2013 8:22 am

    “We’re a ways out from being good still, even if the middle infield defensive skill positions are starting to improve nicely. This is still going to be a slog for a while.”

    I agree that the median timeframe is still a ways out, but at least we can now entertain the thought of ‘if it all goes right’.

    The team will have some money in FA and a few appropriate signings might shore up the OF for next season. Of course, these signings would be orchestrated by the same people who brought us Bay/Morse/Ibanez in the OF, so that puts a damper on the idea, but the fact remains that some optimism feels great right now.

  21. terry on July 10th, 2013 8:23 am

    Justin Smoak’s last 352 PA’s:

    .289/.384/.462; OPS=.846; wOBA=.373; UZR= roughly neutral

    It’s kind of praise worthy.

  22. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 8:29 am

    You gotta love the way he runs, it’s exhilarating! Like Ichiro in his prime sorta.

    He is fun to watch – but he’s nothing like Ichiro. Ichiro was always in absolute control. Miller runs as if some girl’s shotgun-wielding father is right behind him.

  23. opiate82 on July 10th, 2013 10:49 am

    How many hot-streaks does Smoak have to go on before ya’ll stop drinking the Kool-Aid?

    This has all happened before and it will all happen again…

  24. Choo on July 10th, 2013 10:52 am

    Been impressed with Miller’s glove so far, flashing quick hands on a couple of hops that jumped up on him. Doesn’t look like he has mastered total control of his body yet, but that could be a mirage – a byproduct of his lanky build and speed – similar to the way he runs. Reminds me a bit of Hunter Pence in that regard.

    As for the quality baserunning from Miller/Franklin, it’s reminiscent of the Yount/Molitor combo. Unfair comparison at the plate, but the youthful versions Yount/Molitor were two of the best baserunners of their era.

  25. dnc on July 10th, 2013 11:21 am

    opiate82, 352 PA’s is basically a half season’s worth, and has featured some valleys as well as peaks. I’m not sure a hot streak is a fair assessment. I suppose you could argue it’s two hot streak sandwiched around a cold spell, but 352 PA’s is 352 PA’s.

    I’m not at all sold this is the new Smoak, but I’m not ready to write him off like I was last year at this time either.

  26. eponymous coward on July 10th, 2013 11:44 am

    I agree that the median timeframe is still a ways out, but at least we can now entertain the thought of ‘if it all goes right’.

    You can always entertain that thought. If Ackley had bounced back to 2011, Gutierrez to 2009 and stayed healthy, Montero taken a nice step forward as a hitter, Ramirez not gotten injured, this would probably be a .500ish ballclub.

    I’m not at all sold this is the new Smoak, but I’m not ready to write him off like I was last year at this time either.

    I don’t think cherry-picking 352 of his PAs makes a lot of sense.

    Smoak’s Casey Kotchman without speed or defense; in other words, not a lot of power, some walks, some hitting, injury problems. The total package is a below-average MLB 1B.

    It’s quite possible for a below-average 1B to have good, even All-Star-caliber seasons, because if we imagine Smoak as a 1-1.5 WAR 1B as a full time player, that doesn’t mean every season he has will be 1-1.5 WAR. Some seasons could be 0, some could be 2.5, and so on.

    Is Smoak useless? No. Is he a significant improvement on Mike Carp as a player? No (they are close to the same kind of player). Should the M’s forgo the opportunity to improve their talent at 1B if they can? No- the M’s didn’t keep Carp around when they brought in Kendry Morales, so if, say, Montero starts hitting in the minors like he knows what he’s doing, I wouldn’t be irrationally attached to Smoak, either.

  27. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 12:05 pm

    “Miller runs as if some girl’s shotgun-wielding father is right behind him”

    Now THAT is good stuff Westy!

    Hey, you have to admit that there is a definite buzz around the franchise watching the kids play (sometimes quite well). They will surely need some FA’s to bolster their adolescent journey through next season. It should be more fun than watching this year’s M’s for sure.

  28. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Between Smoak, Morales, Ibanez and Morse…..don’t two of these have to go? At least one, right? Never mind what we do with Bay.

    I know we have to lead the league in DH/1B players. I know it’s probably dreaming that Z gets it right for next year. We can still hope.

  29. groundzero55 on July 10th, 2013 12:16 pm

    Does anyone have a list, or a link to one, of the free agents that will be potentially available next offseason? Time to start rosterbating.

  30. shortbus on July 10th, 2013 12:23 pm

    The impact of Miller + Improved Smoak can be seen by going to Fangraphs’ Teams page, filtering for the last 14 days and sorting on wRC+. Spoiler alert: the M’s are on top. They’re in second (behind those pesky Red Sox) when sorting by wOBA.

    Like Dave said that probably won’t continue. Ibanez isn’t going to hit a home run in 27% of his PA’s all season (is he??) and Smoak and Miller will come down to earth a bit. But this team is better than it was when Ryan and Ackley were our double play combo.

    Side note: Ackley seems to actually be hitting the ball harder since returning. I still have some hope for the guy. Especially if he can play decent outfield and second base…he can be a part of a good team.

  31. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 1:14 pm

    Here are many of the free agents available next season. I have sifted out the chaf (and former Mariner throwaways) from the wheat.


    Jose Molina
    A.J. Pierzynski
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    Kurt Suzuki

    First basemen

    Todd Helton
    Xavier Nady
    Mike Napoli
    Paul Konerko
    James Loney
    Kendrys Morales
    Mike Morse
    Kevin Youkilis

    Second basemen

    Chase Utley
    Ben Zobrist


    Alexi Casilla
    Jhonny Peralta
    Brendan Ryan

    Third basemen

    Brandon Inge
    Mark Reynolds
    Kevin Youkilis


    Jason Bay
    Raul Ibanez
    Jason Kubel
    Mike Morse
    Ryan Raburn
    Delmon Young
    Rick Ankiel
    Coco Crisp
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Curtis Granderson
    Franklin Gutierrez
    Chris Young
    Shin-Soo Choo
    Nelson Cruz
    David DeJesus
    Jeff Francoeur
    Hunter Pence

    Designated hitters

    Lance Berkman
    Jason Giambi
    Travis Hafner
    Raul Ibanez
    Kendrys Morales
    Michael Young


    A.J. Burnett
    Chris Capuano
    Chris Carpenter
    Bruce Chen
    Bartolo Colon
    Aaron Cook
    Jon Garland
    Matt Garza
    Aaron Harang
    Dan Haren
    Phil Hughes
    Scott Kazmir
    Tim Lincecum
    Paul Maholm
    Shaun Marcum
    Jason Marquis
    Roy Oswalt
    Mike Pelfrey
    Ervin Santana
    Johan Santana
    Joe Saunders
    Jason Vargas

    Manny Acosta
    Matt Albers
    Joba Chamberlain
    Chad Gaudin
    Mark Lowe
    Eric O’Flaherty
    Darren Oliver
    Manny Parra
    Oliver Perez

  32. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 1:15 pm
  33. MrZDevotee on July 10th, 2013 1:36 pm

    Zunino has impressed me, too. Not in that he has excelled, but in that he has held his own, even without a lot of offense.

    We don’t have to talk about “what were giving up” by having him be the guy behind the plate, like we’ve had to say with the last 6-8 guys back there.

    He’s in over his head, but he isn’t sinking.

    This bodes well for him moving forward.

    Not many guys are manning the catcher position, as a starter, in the Major Leagues a year after being drafted. That’s impressive even if he isn’t anywhere near top of the league at his position.

    Basically, with a couple twists here and there, some crucial call-ups… We’re suddenly a couple of MLB outfielders, and back of the rotation starters, away from being a contending team in the Tampa/Oakland tradition.

    With loads of money to spend next season, and some trade pieces going into the deadline this season.

    Suddenly, we’re “kinda” on the verge of something.

    It makes such a HUGE difference to building when some of your home-grown guys pan out.

  34. Carson on July 10th, 2013 2:06 pm

    Seattle Mariners blog for analysis, commentary, and Sergio Millar appreciation.

    I can see it happening.

  35. MrZDevotee on July 10th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Mr. Serg to most folks…

    (That’s a funny story I hadn’t heard until I googled it… The “three Brads” so his teammates nicknamed him Sergio…)

  36. marc w on July 10th, 2013 2:25 pm

    _David_ from back at 11:30 or so:
    ” I remember he had some kind of issue with his swing. Is that still there/real?”

    No, that’s not still there. Before he was drafted, Miller held his hands/bat extremely high, like over his head, almost like (but not as extreme as) Craig Counsell. That was changed early on, and video from the low minors and AA Jackson showed the difference. His hands are still high, but not exaggeratedly so.

    The worry was that this stance maximized the amount of movement during a pitcher’s windup he needed to get that bat in position to swing, and could leave him vulnerable to changes in speed.

    We’ve all taken some shots at Mariner player development snafus over the years, but this one at least is as clear-cut of a “win” as you’ll find. Taijuan Walker and Brad Miller are two players that M’s PD helped a ton.

  37. terry on July 10th, 2013 2:29 pm

    Looking a half season’s worth of PAs makes a lot of sense and is a standard split to look at…. It makes a heck of a lot more sense then waxing poetic about 44 PAs if one is going to play the sample size card.

  38. stevemotivateir on July 10th, 2013 2:39 pm

    If only player development could work a miracle with Peguero.

  39. Jeremy on July 10th, 2013 2:42 pm

    Like one of the previous posters said, it is so awesome to see a line-up with future M’s in it instead of just veteran placeholders. My fear is that with the franchise seemingly on the upswing, that this will buy more time for Zduriencik and Wedge, both of which use logic that is bad for the long-term potential of the franchise. I’m afraid that Z will stay and attempt more Josh Hamilton/Prince Fielder type signings and trade one of our awesome up-and-comers for $0.60 on the dollar a la Fister, Brandon Morrow, Jaso, etc.

    With the recent Mariner upswing, will Z be back next year?

  40. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 2:52 pm

    2013 DREAM ROSTER * Free Agents

    King Felix
    Hisashi Iwakuma
    Matt Garza *
    Erasmo Ramirez
    Tim Lincecum *



    CF – Jacoby Elsbury *
    2b – Nick Franklin
    3B – Kyle Seager
    DH – Kendrys Morales
    RF – Hunter Pence *
    1B – Justin Smoak
    LF – Michael Saunders
    C – Mike Zunino
    SS – Brad Miller

    DH/1B – Raul Ibanez
    OF – Endy Chavez
    OF/INF – Justin Ackley
    C/1B – Jose Montero/Sucre
    UT – Willie Bloomquist *

  41. eponymous coward on July 10th, 2013 3:05 pm

    … aaaaand Fonzie has just revved up the motrocycle and is on his way over the rosterbation ramp…

  42. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 3:09 pm

    nice epo….yes I did leave 26 on the roster. If we can’t get Willie, then we sign Endy. Can’t keep both under this roster obviously.

  43. stevemotivateir on July 10th, 2013 3:25 pm

    Onto the ramp, and over their heads!

  44. californiamariner on July 10th, 2013 3:34 pm

    Uh oh I’m not used to Dave seeming giddy about a Mariner! But seriously it’s nice to have a few guys to be excited about. Miller, Franklin, Seager, Zunino, and yes I believe in Zunino’s future. I’ve actually enjoyed the games lately let’s just hope it continues.

  45. just a fan on July 10th, 2013 4:27 pm

    Re: Smoakie

    Yes the guy has had his hot streaks before, but they have previously only lasted the length of a road trip, not three months. Fortunately for the M’s offseason decision making, Smoak still has 70 games to go. At the very least, unless Smoak turns back into a pumpkin, the team can focus its available financial resources on the outfield and rotation.

    Finally, the M’s are at the point where free agent signings won’t just be about turning terrible into palatable.

  46. eternal on July 10th, 2013 4:46 pm

    Should we refer to him as champagne? As in the champagne of shortstops?

  47. bookbook on July 10th, 2013 6:16 pm

    Wouldn’t want to see Maurer in the pen. Paxton’s a bit older, so if they decide to turn him into Arthur Rhodes, I guess I won’t argue. (I really liked that guy.)

    We can’t give Wedgie Willie, because he’s sure to be starting him by the ASB.

  48. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 6:28 pm

    I believe Bloomquist could serve as an above average bench presence for the M’s. He can play every position. Can run and be a good right handed bat option off the bench. What we have now in the way of comparison is Bay. OUCH!!!

  49. bookbook on July 11th, 2013 8:11 am

    Just looked him up on B-Ref. He hits better than he ever has!

  50. Kazinski on July 11th, 2013 8:51 am

    If we need a utility guy we have Triunfel in Tacoma. We don’t need a mid thirtys bench player that is
    starting to make regular trips to the DL

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