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2019 Phillies review: Brad Miller

A surprisingly effective bench player for the Phillies, something not exactly common in the Klentak era

MLB: Game Two-Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers

(w/ Phillies): .263/.331/.610, 130 PA, 12 HR, 21 RBI, 27.8 K%, 8.5 BB%, 1.1 fWAR

The good

Between the outraged disbelief that Sean Rodriguez and Andrew Knapp had so many high leverage at-bats, and the spiritual malaise that accompanied every Phil Gosselin plate appearance, you might have missed that Matt Klentak made a couple pretty solid in-season moves to strengthen the Phillies bench. Jay Bruce delivered the sugar rush of a June power surge, albeit followed by a sustained crash in the second half. Corey Dickerson was even better, helping to keep the team more or less relevant through August.

Then there was itinerant utilityman Brad Miller, acquired for cash in June, who briefly reached cult status with the timely purchase of bamboo plants, and ended the season with the sort of power surge unseen in Philly since the first few weeks of Rhys Hoskins’ career. Miller became the first Phillie in team history to register three multi-homer performances over a nine-game stretch, finishing the year with 12 home runs in just 130 plate appearances.

Even granting that 2019 saw all kinds of weird power feats, there’s reason to believe Miller is for real. He went deep 30 times for the 2016 Rays, and has averaged 19 long balls per 162 games throughout his career. His other big selling point is positional versatility: he appeared at both outfield corners, third base, and shortstop for the Phillies, and over his career has played everywhere but pitcher and catcher.

The bad

Miller is streaky for sure, as his monthly splits with the Phillies show:

B. Miller 2019

June 20 0.375 0.500 0.875 1.375
July 28 0.120 0.214 0.240 0.454
August 26 0.182 0.308 0.364 0.672
September 56 0.327 0.339 0.800 1.139

Considering his likely role going forward, it’s also probably worth noting that his pinch-hitting line was an unspectacular .226/.314/.387 in 35 plate appearances. On the other hand, he was Manny frickin’ Mota compared to Knapp (.219/.265/.250) or Rodriguez (.154/.258/.269).

The future

It’s uncertain whether Joe Girardi will share Gabe Kapler’s fascination with multi-position players like Miller, Rodriguez, or Scott Kingery, nor whether Miller will try to parlay his late-season power surge into an everyday job rather than returning for a bench role. But given what else we’ve seen emerging from the Phils’ dugout in late-game, high leverage spots, here’s hoping he’s back in 2020.