When the Dodgers signed Brad Miller, it was an overlooked move mainly overshadowed by the Bryce Harper rumors. Now, with just over one week to go before the regular season opens, the 29-year-old utility man is making a strong case to be on the opening day roster.
The Dodgers will have to decide soon as Miller has the ability to opt-out of his contract at the end of Spring training. If they want to send him to AAA, Miller may decide he impressed enough in Spring to get a major league deal from another team.
In 20 spring training at-bats, Miller is hitting .350/.409./.650 with two home runs. Yes that is an incredibly small sample size and we shouldn’t put much stock in spring stats but there’s more to Miller than just his stats right now.
Although he struggled last season, which led to him being designated for assignment by the Rays, Miller still hit the ball hard when he actually hit the ball. He was 35th in the league last season with an average exit velocity of 90.8 MPH (minimum 150 batted balls), which put him ahead of star players like Anthony Rendon, Paul Goldschmidt, Ronald Acuna Jr., Trevor Story, and Bryce Harper. There’s more to hitting than just hitting the ball hard, but there aren’t many good hitters who don’t hit the ball hard consistently.
His main problem over the past two seasons has been his inability to make contact. Last season, his contact percentage dropped by just over seven percent from his career average of 75 percent. If Miller can get his contact percentage back up to around the 75 percent area, he could have a second career breakout. The last time he made contact that often, he had a 30 home run season.
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It’s a lot easier said than done, but what team has been as successful at revitalizing careers as the Dodgers have been in recent years? The Dodgers also have what no other team has to help Miller, hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc. Working with him could help Miller put his career back on the right path as it has for so many other players.
Even if Miller doesn’t get back to a 30 home run player, he still provides value to the team defensively. The Dodgers lack quality middle infield depth right now. With Enrique Hernandez likely starting at second base and Chris Taylor platooning in left field and shortstop, the Dodgers best backup middle infielder is either Daniel Castro or Jake Peter. Neither of those players are ideal to have on the major league roster if they needed one.
Miller also provides the versatility to play all around the field. The only positions he hasn’t played in his career are pitcher and catcher. With one of Hernandez or Taylor now filling a starting role, carrying another versatile player would be a big benefit for the team.
Since he was only signed to a minor league deal, there isn’t any risk to putting Miller on the opening day roster. At worst. they DFA him or convince him to go to the minor leagues later in the season. At best, they have another 30 home run player with versatility on their roster.
Not giving him a chance just doesn’t make sense for the Dodgers. Brad Miller needs to be on the opening day roster.