Brad Miller’s followed up his dreadful (injury-marred) 2017 with a slightly better, yet drastically underwhelming 2018. This is now the second consecutive year that Brad Miller hasn’t shown much at the plate, which is essentially what the Rays are looking for.
The .238/.308/.404 line isn’t a marked improvement, but it still shows that the injury Miller played through last year most definitely prevented him from giving us a truer sense of who he could be after that 2016 power surge. Miller’s walk rate last year shot up to 15.5%, and his EV dropped to 89 mph. He was able to develop better patience at the plate that the Rays hoped could probably carry over to 2018. The mixture of power he showed in 2016, and the increase in walks in 2017 could’ve led anyone to believe that there might be a little more there than we had seen.
Yet, here we are. There’s still not much to be seen in Brad Miller’s bat, and he most certainly has not offered much defensively. What’s to look for at this point?
On the bright side his slugging percentage has increased by nearly 70 points. Negatively, the walk rate has crawled back down to a career average at 9.5%, and his strikeout rate is approaching 30%.
While the hard contact is still part of his game (Exit Velocity has crept up to 92 mph), Miller’s contact% has continued to drop over the past few years. His swinging strike rate is 5% above league average at 15.1%.
The lack of contact presented by Brad is the most pressing concern.
Another reason to worry is that most of this production (or lack of) for Miller has come against RHP. The Rays think of Miller as a platoon bat, and if he’s not performing like he probably should (104 wRC+ vRHP in 2018) then maybe it’s becoming clear that he might not present the Rays with the 1B option they hoped for when internal options are also present.
$4.5M for the Rays is hefty sum, and Brad Miller has not performed at a level that warrants that amount from a small-market franchise. I’d understand should the Rays continue to deploy Miller at 1B, this isn’t a win-now year. However, at some point you might think that enough is enough. There’s talent there, and there always has been with Brad but what if the Rays were just wrong about this?
Jake Bauers is a big piece of the Rays plans for the future that should likely be here once the Super Two deadline passes, and at that point, Miller should either ride the bench or hit the waiver wire.
After a tough series in Seattle, facing one of the best RHP in baseball, Miller isn’t in the lineup tonight. Granted the Rays are playing in a National League ballpark, where a DH is not possible, but it still makes you scratch your head a little.
After many years of trying to make things work with Brad Miller across the infield spectrum, it might be time to let go.