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40 in 40: Wade Miley

Take a minute to get to know one of your new Mariners.

Here is a picture of Wade milking a cow at Globe Life Park. Because why not?
Here is a picture of Wade milking a cow at Globe Life Park. Because why not?
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Wade Miley is one of the many new faces to join Seattle this offseason. He became a Mariner (along with Jonathan Aro) back in December in a deal that sent Roenis Elias and Carson Smith to the Red Sox. Because Miley has spent the bulk of his career in the National League, it’s possible that many LL regulars don’t know a ton about Wade. As such, this 40 in 40 entry can be viewed as a "Getting to Know Mr. Miley" post. Here we go!

Wade Miley as a youngster

Wade grew up in Loranger, Louisiana, which is a small town of about 6,000 in the southeastern quadrant of the state. To get an idea about what living in Loranger might be like, here’s an excerpt from the town’s Wikipedia page: "Life in Loranger revolves around sports (mainly football), the annual Mud Bogg held during the summer months, and other activities popular in this region such as hunting and fishing." (The annual Mud Bogg!) With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Wade cites fly fishing and huntin’ as two of his very favorite activities. He should probably do alright in the great state of Washington. After graduating from high school in 2005, Wade was selected by the Devil Rays in the 20th round of MLB’s amateur draft. He didn’t sign though, opting instead to go play ball in college.

Wade Miley as a minor leaguer

In 2008, Wade was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Southeastern Louisiana University with the 43rd overall pick in the first round. For perspective, that was 23 picks after the M’s selected Josh Fields and 23 picks before they tabbed Dennis Raben. (Seattle has always been so good at drafting, you guys.) If you’re an ultra hip PNW baseball fan, you may have seen Miley pitch for the Yakima Bears back in 2008. However, his minor league career in Washington was brief. Wade quickly climbed the minor league ranks and found himself pitching in the bigs just three years after he debuted in short-season ball.

Wade Miley as a Diamondback

Miley earned a 40-inning cup o’ coffee towards the end of the 2011 season with the D-backs. He started seven games in August and September but struggled with his command, surrendering too many walks and home runs without recording many strikeouts. Heading into 2012, with a ton of young starters ahead of him on Arizona’s depth chart (including Ian Kennedy, Patrick Corbin, Trevors Cahill and Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Josh Collmenter, and Daniel Hudson), his position with the big league club was tenuous at best. Nonetheless, Miley found himself on the 2012 Opening Day roster. He just made the cut, representing the final pre-season addition to Arizona’s 25-man roster, after Takashi Saito was placed on the DL two days before the season started.

To begin the year, Miley was given the far-from-glorious role of long man out of the ‘pen. However, in just the third game of the season, Miley threw four no-hit innings in relief, enabling the D-backs to come back from a 6-run deficit to beat the Giants 7-6. Due in large part to this performance, Miley was promoted to the rotation when Daniel Hudson hit the DL 12 days into the season. Despite beginning the year as the 25th man on the roster (think Tyler Olson), Miley started 29 games, threw almost 200 innings, and finished in second in the NL ROY voting (falling seven vote points shy of Bryce Harper in a surprisingly close race). In short, Miley did that whole zero to hero thing. What a fun thing. Go, Wade!

Here are a few other accomplishments Miley made during his time in Arizona:

  • Between 2012 and 2014, he led the Diamondbacks in wins, games started, innings pitched, strikeouts, and WAR.
  • On April 22, 2013, he hit a 412’ solo home run off of Ryan Vogelsong at AT&T Park, nearly baptizing the ball in the frigid waters of McCovey Cove.
  • And, probably most importantly, he was honored with a garden gnome giveaway on April 27, 2013.

Miley’s gnome is so much better than Ackley’s. Look at that fishing pole! And the camouflage waders! So goofy.

Wade Miley as a Red Sock

During last year’s offseason, Miley was traded from Arizona to the Red Sox for Raymel Flores, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. In 2015, for the fourth year in a row, Wade was again the most dependable pitcher in his team’s rotation. He was the only Red Sox hurler to make all of his scheduled starts. He also managed a more-than-respectable fWAR of 2.6. Miley’s ERA did take a hit in 2015, jumping up to 4.46, but that was due in large part to an abnormally low strand rate (69.7%) and some questionable personnel on the third base side of Boston’s defense. His FIP (3.81), K/9 (6.83), and BB/9 (2.97) were all near his career averages, so there likely isn’t much reason for concern about his performance.

Wade Miley as a Mariner

Wade is now a member of your Seattle Mariners. (Hooray!) Looking forward to 2016, the 29-year-old lefty should slot nicely into the middle of the M’s rotation. Wade almost certainly doesn’t have as much upside as Walker or Paxton, but he has been so much more dependable. Over the last four years, Miley has averaged 198 IP per season. The only Mariners pitchers in the last 10 years to throw more than 198 innings in a single season are Felix Hernandez (8x), Jason Vargas (2x), and Hisashi Iwakuma (1x). The ability to stay healthy and provide ~six solid innings every five days is something that Seattle pitchers have struggled with. In Miley, Jerry helped address this shortcoming.

As for Miley’s repertoire, he regularly throws a sinker, a four-seamer, a changeup, a slider, and a curve. Among these offerings, his changeup has definitely been his best pitch (his PITCHf/x wCH/C of 0.63 in 2015 was the 18th highest among pitchers who threw their change at least 10% of the time), although he has been able to record quite a few whiffs with his slider. If you want a deeper look into Wade’s pitching style/stuff, I encourage you to revisit this piece that Jake wrote shortly after Miley joined the M’s.

Another thing that makes Wade a particularly valuable asset is that he’s under team control through the end of 2018. Miley is scheduled to make $6.1M in 2016, $8.9M in 2017, and he has a team option for $12M in 2018. A $9M AAV is a very team-friendly price for an above average pitcher during his age 29-31 seasons. If only there was a not-ridiculous comparison we could make to highlight how good of a deal this is… Oh wait! Here’s one:

Stats from '13-'15 Age W L G IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP fWAR
Mike Leake 25-27 36 30 94 598.2 6.09 2.21 0.99 0.281 76.0% 51.3% 12.8% 3.59 4.03 3.77 6.0
Wade Miley 26-28
29 33 98 597.2 7.18 3.09 0.92 0.306 72.5% 50.6% 11.8% 4.11 3.92 3.78 5.9

Mike Leake signed a 5-year, $80M deal in December ($16M AAV). He is one year younger, but that is way more money than the Mariners have invested in Miley. (Hat tip to Colin for tweeting this comparison last night.) In closing, Miley has the skills and the track record to stick around for the next three seasons and make a significant contribution to the Mariners. I very much hope that this happens. Welcome to Seattle, Wade.

Go M’s.