Can Brad Miller Be The Starting Shortstop Again?


It seems for the most part that positions have (theoretically) been filled and we can see who will be playing where. Of course nothing is set in stone. Everyone will have to show up in the spring and show that they deserved their starting spots. And between now and then anything could happen.

As of now I see the starting shortstop position belonging to Chris Taylor. Seems like an easy call considering he did well last year when Brad Miller wasn’t performing. Miller went into 2014 with so much promise only to be followed with so much disappointment. So where does he stand now?

Right now he will provide some competition Taylor and if Miller really impresses maybe he wins his starting spot back. It may not be as difficult as it seems. Yes, Taylor did well when the Mariners needed production from shortstop, something Miller certainly wasn’t providing while hitting around the Mendoza line for most of the year. But a quick look at the numbers makes me think Taylor could see a lot of regression.

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A quick comparison between the two leaves me wanting Miller to be the starter. That is if he can hit above his weight (hopefully far above). Miller has more power and better BB/K ratio last season but Taylor easily beat Miller in average and OBP. But the thing that’s most alarming about Taylor is his .398 BABIP. The leader in BABIP last year among qualified hitters was Starling Marte at .373.

Marte was followed by Jose Altuve and Adam Eaton. And while there isn’t too large of a drop off between Taylor’s BABIP to their’s we can expect Taylor’s drop to be much larger than a small 25 points. These players have something in common: they don’t have a ton of power. The main difference between the numbers from the other three and Taylor is that Taylor while he hit slightly above the league average in line drive rate he was under the league average in ground ball rate and over in fly ball rate. Those are trends the other players do not share with Taylor.

Players without power should not be putting the ball in the air. It seems like Taylor’s high BABIP was more the result of luck. Given that Taylor outshined Miller last year he probably has a hand up on Miller for now. Going into spring and maybe coming out of spring training I think we probably see Taylor as the shortstop. I think Miller starts with the team as a utility player given the unsure status of Willie Bloomquist after surgery. But I don’t think it will be long until we see Brad Miller really competing for the starting shortstop position again.