Mariners Spring Training Preview: The Infield

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Sep 13, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Mariners shortstop Brad Miller (5) dives and throws out St. Louis Cardinals third baseman

David Freese

(not pictured) during the second inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Short Stop:

Crazy Legs Brad Miller burst onto the scene last year in Seattle as a funny-running, gloveless, baby-faced shortstop. In 76 games he sported a triple slash of .265/.318/.418, with a bulk of his plate appearances coming from the leadoff spot. Impressively, 25 of his 81 hits were for extra-bases, and more impressive 6 of those were triples.

Not only do I expect Sergio to maintain his spot as the leadoff hitter, I expect him to be the opening day starter at shortstop.

However, he does need to work on his fielding and keep himself out of a sophomore slump. In the 68 games where he played some time at short stop– he also played in 13 games at second and 3 games at third– he had 7 errors with a fielding percentage of .972. Now that isn’t terrible, but he found a way to make routine plays harder than necessary. And, shortstop is arguably the most important defensive fielding position (excluding the catcher) and he needs to prove himself so that his pitchers trust him to make the plays on those ground balls.

When it comes to Miller’s backup that’s where it gets tricky. At first I was inclined to say Nick Franklin. However, with super-utility man Willie Bloomquist and a multitude of corner outfielders and first basemen/DHs, it’s questionable if there is an opening day spot on the roster for Franklin.

He had such a promising start to last season, and it looked like he was going to be in the AL ROY conversation. But an absolutely atrocious second half not only killed his numbers, but also his characteristic confidence.

Having him start the year in AAA Tacoma would be invaluable: he would get to mash on PCL pitchers and get his confidence back while also playing every day. And when the inevitable injury comes, or when one of the DH/1B/Outfield guys craps out, Franklin can be called up and be a welcomed addition to the squad.

Because it doesn’t look like he is being traded any time soon, look for him to be in Tacoma to start the year, waiting patiently to get called up at some point during the season.