Last season, we saw Brad Miller break out as a 30 HR hitter. Coming into 2017 as the everyday 2B, the Rays had hopes he could continue serving as a middle of the order power bat, but thus far the results have been lackluster, with a slash line of .214/.353/.357.
As noted in the season preview, Miller changed his batted ball profile and plate discipline profile to turn into a slugging middle infielder in 2016. What I failed to mention is that power came in streaks.
Brad Miller 2016 Monthly Splits
And this is the swing he used to be that streaky hitter:
Could the high leg kick explain the streakiness?
Any player with a big leg kick has to deal with the possibility of getting out of sync and not getting his front foot down soon enough to swing on time and make good contact. Under this theory, it makes sense Brad Miller is a streaky player and will continue as such.
Moreover, Miller's batted balls show a player who isn't timing up pitches. A season after making a successful transition to a pull hitter, Miller has reverted back to using the whole field, which in his case leads to a drop in power.
His plate appearances and swings don't seem as though he's using the whole field. It looks as though his timing is off and he's swinging late at pitches he was getting out in front of during his hot streaks. These factors could explain Miller's diminished contact quality.
Can it be Fixed?
Chad Mottola and Kevin Cash will have to address the issue if timing really is Miller’s problem. If it were as simple as telling someone to get his foot down a little quicker, everyone would be a superstar.
Brad Miller is a streaky player. With such a big leg kick and uppercut swing, it's impossible to expect a hitter to have good timing all year. We know Miller has power in his bat, it's all a matter of getting his swing timing issue corrected and getting him back to pulling pitches and we should get the 2016 Miller back. On a positive note, he had two hard hit singles on Sunday so he could be getting back on track.
In the meantime, Miller could pull more fly balls to help out his cause.
Brad Miller 2017 Fly Balls
Along with the noticeable drop in pulled fly balls and contact quality, his slugging percentage has dropped from .986 to .611, and his wRC+ has gone down from 234 to 145 on fly balls.