Exit Interview 2020: Brad Miller

After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season.  They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post.  Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  This year, of course, was anything but typical.  So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative.  There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable.  As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!

Player: Brad Miller

Season stats: 48 games, 171 PA, 21 R, 33 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB, 25 BB, 46 K, .232/.357/.451, 120 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR

Postseason stats: .000/.000/.000

Statcast: .343 xwOBA, 13.4% barrel %, 89.8 exit velocity, 43.3% hard hit %

Best Statcast category: xwOBA, Barrel % (87th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Whiff % (7th percentile)

Hero/Goat: Hero 5, Goat 5


Overview: When Brad Miller signed with the Cardinals right before spring training got started, nobody expected him to be much more than a replacement for Jedd Gyorko, a guy who could fill it at third, second, and first and occasionally do some damage at the plate.  If you had said then that he would wind up tied for the team lead in home runs, there would have been a lot of laughter.  Miller did have 30 home runs back in 2016, but that was a long time ago and surely he wouldn’t get that much playing time.

Of course, 2020 being what it is, not only did Miller have opportunities at third (not as much at the other spots) but also at DH because of the pandemic season.  Which meant he got more playing time and, well, leading this team in home runs is a pretty low bar.  Miller had some great stretches, though, where he would tend to carry the team.  Then he had others where he didn’t see a pitch he couldn’t swing and miss at.  Just an arbitrary delineation gives us:

First 10 games .308/.457/.615
Second 10 games: .324/.444/.622
Third 10 games: .188/.257/.375
Fourth 10 games: .154/.313/.308
Last 8 games: .158/.200/.263

Miller’s last home run came against the Brewers on September 18, one of only two he hit after the Reds series started that month.  The slide was so notable that, even as co-leader in home runs, he got only one at bat in the entire Wild Card round.  (Which, in fairness, is better than the person that tied with him.)  He hit two home runs in a game twice in the season, which means that the other three came in the other 45.  It’s easy to remember those MVP-like moments, but it’s harder to realize that those were more mirages than anything.

Outlook: If the DH is a part of the National League next year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Cardinals re-sign Miller and let him do a lot of DH work.  (His third base defense was such that it made folks long for Matt Carpenter to take the field, so that’s probably not going to be as much of an option as folks would like.)  Perhaps he could spell Tommy Edman at second as well.  I’d rather see the Cardinals try some of their younger players, but the draw of former players that have had success in St. Louis is strong for this front office and Miller easily feels like a guy they’d like to bring back if they could.

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