I'm a huge Brad Miller fan. I'm as high on Brad Miller for 2014 (and beyond) as I was on Carlos Gomez for 2013. I have snatched up Miller in all my fantasy baseball leagues. Earlier this offseason, I argued that the Reds should trade for him. And, now, he's one of my 2014 breakout candidates. Suffice it to say, I'm all in on Miller for 2014 and beyond.
I just struggle to find things to not like about Miller. He's a very well-rounded player with a strong collegiate pedigree earned at the University of Clemson. Miller has tools, skills, and intangibles and I really can't fathom why he isn't more highly regarded in scouting and pundit circles (with the exception of John Sickels, who seemed to be both earlier and higher on Miller). Those circles seem to have him pegged as something less than an impact talent, which is where I have him pegged. Miller has the ability to control the strike zone, hit for average, and hit for solid power. He also has strong intangibles and leadership skills, as evidenced by his amateur travel team coach Chet Lemon calling him "a coach's dream". He hits without batting gloves and he wears old school stirrups. Everything he does just seems to work.
As for mechanics, I really love his swing, which generates a lot of leverage.
In the above photo, which I love, there's really a lot to like. He has his back elbow in tight to his back hip, which increases his rotational speed and gives him a more direct hand path to the point of impact. His hip rotation is powerful and drives his weight up on to the toe of his back foot. And, finally, I love the angle of the bat in relation to his left forearm. His hips have already fired, but he hasn't yet released the barrel of the bat, which gives him strong rotational power and allows him to whip the bat through the strike zone with very good speed and force. He has a short, compact swing to the point of impact, but still gets very good extension out-and-through the pitch. Despite not being the biggest guy on the block, his swing generates very good leverage and power.
In addition to strong swing mechanics that generate substantial force, Miller also has good pitch recognition and hand-eye coordination skills, which enable him to identify pitches he can drive and consistently get the barrel of the bat on the pitch. His hands work very well in the swing. Overall, his combination of skills allows him to drive the ball to all fields.
In the field and on the bases, Miller has a long and lean type of athleticism. He's not the fastest guy on the field, but he runs up on the balls of feet with the exuberance of a young gazelle. In the field, he has smooth fielding actions and soft hands. His range is solid/average and he has good arm strength, but has battled inconsistency in his accuracy, perhaps due in part to his non-traditional arm stroke. He should have more than enough ability to be a league-average defensive shortstop with room to grow into something more.
Here's a look at Brad Miller highlights from the 2013 season, courtesy of TanzeHighlights14 on YouTube:
Miller is a unique talent and one I really wish was on the Reds.
One interesting note about his 2013 season was that Miller hit 2 homers in a game three separate times. Maybe that doesn't mean anything more than his production was clustered over fewer games than expected. Or, maybe it means that his bat is more explosive than commonly thought.
I have high hopes for Brad Miller in 2014 and beyond and there isn't much he could do that would surprise me. I could see a 15/15 season. I could see 20+ homers. I could see a .285+ batting average. I think the offensive upside is higher than the general consensus and he's certainly ripping the cover off the ball in spring training, which could carry over into the early part of the 2014 season.
Overall, I'm very bullish on Brad Miller for 2014 and beyond. I like pretty much everything he does on the baseball field, as well as the manner in which he does it. All that said, I'm pretty much all in on Miller and I'm expecting a breakout season in 2014.