As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Andrew Miller
Season stats: 4.75 ERA, 40 G, 36.0 IP, 41 H, 5 HR, 16 BB, 40 K, 16 inherited runners, 4 inherited runners scored, 4.50 FIP, 1.583 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, -0.2 bWAR, -0.1 fWAR
Statcast: .333 xwOBA, 8.7 barrel %, 86.3 exit velocity, 36.9 hard hit %, 24.4 K %, 9.8 BB %
Best Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (42nd percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Fastball Spin (2nd percentile)
Hero/Goat: Goat 1
Positives: Had 25 outings where he was not charged with a run….threw a scoreless inning in his last Cardinal outing….still dominated lefties as they slashed .182/.257/.288 against him….was better at Busch, with a 3.54 ERA and a .782 OPS against….had a 3.66 ERA in the first half….threw his most innings in June (10) and had a 0.90 ERA and a .619 OPS against….seventh place hitters had a .443 OPS against….batters hit .226 when he was ahead in the count….only had 15 high leverage plate appearances but gave up a .182/.400/.273 line in them….had a 1.42 ERA in the fifth inning….posted a 2.00 ERA with two days’ rest and a 1.42 ERA with three….limited the Cubs to a .653 OPS.
Negatives: Missed all of May due to injury, one of two trips to the IL on the season….was charged with two or more runs four times….right-handers torched him for a 1.151 OPS and four of the five homers he allowed….had a 6.32 ERA away from home….put up an ERA over six in the second half though his OPS allowed was almost identical to the first….allowed a batting average against over .300 in three of the five months he pitched in….had a 9.45 ERA in 6.2 August innings….leadoff batters slashed .429/.529/.571 against him….batters had a .923 OPS if they didn’t swing at the first pitch….they hit .385 on the first pitch….they hit .412 with a 1.167 OPS if they were ahead in the count….four of his homers came to the first batter he faced….that helped lead to a 1.127 OPS when nobody was out in the inning….batters hit .314 with runners in scoring position….had a 10.29 ERA in seven seventh innings….put up a 9.72 ERA with one day of rest….the Brewers had a .944 OPS against him.
Overview: It really feels like Andrew Miller is a one trick pony now. The slider is still good and if the days of the LOOGY were allowed to return, perhaps he could still be of some use. As you can see, he could still hold sway over those that hit from the sinister side. The problem is that baseball, in its infinite wisdom, has gotten rid of those specialists and, as such, have hastened the end of Miller’s career. Batters beat up on his fastball (.316/.331/.632) which is probably why it was his third pitch in 2021 for the first time in his career. He had fewer ground balls and more fly balls than he’d had since 2015 (when Statcast got fired up) and had his highest WHIP since 2011. While it was defensible why Miller hit his vesting option last year, given the need for the pitching in the COVID season, especially with all the double headers, you could make the case–well, I guess both bWAR and fWAR do–that the club would have better off without him on the field. That said, there were reports of his veteran presence and his helping out younger pitchers, stuff that doesn’t show up in the numbers. (Plus, as the union rep, there was no way that the Cardinals would have thought of artificially forcing him to miss that vesting, even if that was something they regularly did.) The Cardinals always wanted a pitcher like Andrew Miller. The problem was that by time they signed the original article, he wasn’t really Andrew Miller anymore.
Outlook: Again, it’s hard to see a spot for Miller without the ability to spot him just against left-handers. I can’t see Miller being interested in hanging on with a minor league invite or anything of that nature, though he might take one to get into someone’s spring training camp and hope to make his case. After 16 years in the big leagues, though, it seems much more likely that Miller might stay an active player through the CBA negotiations but then hang up his cleats soon afterwards, ending a remarkable career for a guy that helped shift the narrative away from closers, getting a lot of press and attention for someone that only once saved more than 10 games for a team.