by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Brad Miller is going to enter the season with eligibility at 1B and SS, with talk being that he’ll man 2B for Tampa Bay. That type of flexibility is what fantasy owners thirst for and consistently elevates the value of a player. The fact that Miller brings it while coming off a 30 HR campaign, it’s easy to see why he owns an average ADP of 161.00 and has been selected as early as 108 in NFBC drafts.
Coming off a career year, there could be reason to be skeptical that he can replicate it, however. Let’s take a look:
2016 – 30 HR
Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Projection – 24
The fact is he had never hit more than 20 HR in a season prior to ’16 (never more than 11 in the Majors). His 20.4% HR/FB was nearly double his previous career high (10.3% in ’15), and there was an even bigger spike as the season progressed:
- First Half – 17.9%
- Second Half – 23.2%
He’ll play 2017 as a 27-year old, so seeing him be better than he had prior to ’16 is realistic. Seeing him match his ’16 explosion, though, would be a mistake.
2016 – .243
Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Projection – .250
If you looked at the power, a .277 BABIP and 24.8% strikeout rate, you’d think that it would be a given that he’d improve on his average. That’s not the case.
The BABIP isn’t a guarantee to improve significantly, as he consistently posted a low line drive rate (18.5% in ’16) and he doesn’t have extreme speed. He also could easily see his strikeout rate rise. Just look at his Whiff%:
- Hard – 12.44%
- Breaking – 14.29%
- Offspeed – 14.49%
While he doesn’t have an extreme number against any one type of pitch, he also doesn’t do a good job against any either. His strikeout rate jumped from 22.1% in the first half to 27.7% in the second, and considering the above numbers the second half mark appears to be closer to the truth.
Drop in Power + Limited BABIP + Rising Strikeout Rate = Less Than Stellar Average
He hit .227 against southpaws last season, with a .373 SLG (.509 against RHP). That has been the story of his career:
- vs. LHP – .227/.283/.320
- vs. RHP – .252/.319/.457
Obviously a player with Miller’s versatility is going to have value, but don’t go into the season expecting him to match last year’s “success”. His average isn’t going to increase significantly while the power should drop. Throw in the potential to lose playing time against lefties and the overall appeal is going to be limited.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: