Brad Miller has had an busy offseason without really doing much. He went from a bevy of excitement at the potential of a full year of shortstop under his belt, to being thrown into trade discussions, to being considered an option at right field, to landing right back at excitement for his shortstop potential.
The Mariners are going to have an exciting year. If we keep telling ourselves this over and over it is bound to happen. So being excited about Miller's potential season is a legitimate thing, even if it might not happen because baseball is a cruel lover who spurns at all chances possible.
According to the Steamer projections on Fangraphs, Miller is expected to be worth 2.0 WAR, with a .248/.310/.389 split and a wRC+ of 100. Those projections are also based off of 100 games. Let's say Miller finds his way into playing the whole season -- there is a good chance he'll find his way to the plates more than 417 times. The Steamer600 projections peg Miller at a WAR of 2.8, although there is a good chance that Miller doesn't make it to the plate 600 times. At any rate, for a hypothetical full season of production at shortstop for Miller, let's use that 2.8.
If Miller achieves such lofty numbers, he'll be one of the better Mariners at the position in recent memory. The top-five spots since 1995 belong to Alex Rodriguez. Underneath him reside Brendan Ryan and Carlos Guillen for any sort of consistent production. After that, it is a lot of random players as the Mariners filled the shortstop position through the late 2000s with a lot of random players.
Here are the top seasons according to Fangraphs' WAR by a shortstop in a Mariners' uniform.
If Miller plays up to his proposed potential, his season would land him right around Ryan's 2011 campaign as one of the better shortstops the Mariners have had in a long while. He would also do that while being one of the best bargains in baseball. For reference, here are the 10 shortstops who finished with a WAR higher than 2.8 in the 2014 season with salary figures pulled from Fangraphs.
Shortstops make good money, or at least all the shortstops there because most of them have decent major league service. If Miller is as good as projected, he'll be a plus shortstop who is criminally underpaid compared to his peers.
There is also the chance that Miller improves upon what is expected of him. His 2015 projections are reliant upon his work in the field, while paying a modest look at his offensive potential. His wRC+ of 100 is 10th amongst shortstops in the Steamer600. In short, the outlook on Miller's offensive contributions are a bit muted. That is completely understandable. In the first half of last season, Miller hit a piddly .204/.273/.330 with a wRC+ of 73 over 270 at bats.
But in 97 trips to the plate over the second half of the season, those numbers rose across the board to .268/.330/.464 with a wRC+ of 122. If the second half of the season is Miller realizing his potential, and he is able to realize that potential consistently across the season, the Mariners will have an absolute bargain of a player on their hands.
Then again, it could also go all completely wrong. Everyone was high on Miller before the start of last season, and it didn't end up too well. Lately, it is almost synonymous with the Mariners that the breakout year for a young prospect turns into a breakdown year. Let's hope that Miller is able to break that cycle.