The Seattle Mariners made a concerted effort to bolster their offense during this off-season, bringing several veteran bats into the organization. Even with these high-profile outside signings, one of the more intriguing players in the Seattle lineup has been slowly making his way through their farm system. Though seldom looked to for fantasy value, the Seattle Mariners may be holding one of the top fantasy sleepers in shortstop Brad Miller.
Let’s start with his 2013 numbers:
Last season, the 23-year-old shortstop made his debut in the big leagues, and while he didn't blow anyone away, he certainly held his own. To give you a better sense of what this would translate to in a full season, if we take just his major league numbers and extrapolate to 600 AB, it looks more like the following:
No doubt those are very, very serviceable numbers for the SS position - top 10 easily in a 5x5 league. Moreover, these numbers came along with a below-average BAPIP (.294), which suggests that we could expect a natural improvement statistically. When combined with his career minor league slash of .314/.409/.516 and the fact that he cranked 20 homers between the majors and minors last season alone, there’s definitely reason to be excited about this young prospect.
Now, before we get too enamored with this kid, there are also a number of considerations tempering his outlook. Miller had a meager 58% success rate stealing bases last season, and the Mariners as a team are not exactly known for threatening opposing catchers, ranking in the bottom third for stolen base attempts. With regards to RBI, batting towards the end of the Mariners lineup will likely hamstring his run-production numbers. Plus, with all of the roster changes from this offseason, it will be particularly difficult to accurately predict his output in either RBI or R.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that Miller does have a career 71% success rate stealing bases, and one could certainly make the argument that Seattle’s rank in SB attempts is due more to a lack of any real speed threats rather than a systemic propensity to hold runners. Assuming the rest of the lineup performs as anticipated, I think a reasonable projection for Miller’s first full major league season would be: .270, 12 HR, 75 R, 65 RBI, 10 SB.
For comparisons sake, take a look at the projections for Starlin Castro, (ADP of 80.9): .285, 13 HR, 87 R, 63 RBI, 19 SB.
It’s clear that Castro would be the better pick for the position, but we have to ask whether that value is worth the nearly 126-spot difference in ADP. If you're comfortable waiting until the end of the draft, snagging Miller at his current ADP of 206 could allow you to invest your higher picks in more important positions, like corner infield, while providing a reliable role player at SS.
Best of luck in your drafts, and as always, stay tuned for the latest Mariners news and analysis!