Bryce Harper won the NL Rookie of the Year Award as pretty much everyone predicted he would, but his winning margin was just seven points over Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks. So let’s look into the player that was deemed the best rookie pitcher in the Senior Circuit.
You know me, I usually don’t put much stock into win-loss records because there is so much more that plays into that result than a hurlers performance, but that doesn’t mean I’m unimpressed by a rookie who wins 16 games against 11 loses. Miley didn’t exactly kill it with 18 quality starts in 29 starts, but his 62 percent quality start mark was the same as Yu Darvish and C.J. Wilson. Miley also tossed 194.2 innings meaning he was just one start from 200 innings, and in today’s game that’s an impressive mark for a rookie hurler.
One of the reasons for his success was that he kept the runs under control as evidenced by his solid 3.33 ERA. I’m going to suggest that you shouldn’t expect a repeat of that number in 2013. I’m not here to say you should expect it to go up by a full run or anything, but a rise of half a run is possible, maybe probable, given his overall skill set. We’ll get into that as we go along, but consider these two data points. (1) His xFIP for 2012 was 3.75. (2) His SIERA was 3.84. Those two measures suggest that his ERA should have been a half run higher than it was last year, thereby adding some support to my contention that his ERA will likely go up in 2013.
Miley struck out 6.66 batters per nine innings. Before you go searching for your cross to ward off the devil, let’s just comment on the number itself. It’s not a great number, at least not a dominating one. Remember, strikeouts are more abundant than ever before in this great game of ours. The result is that the big league average K-rate last season was 7.56 meaning that Miley was a basically a batter below league average in this measure. Given how fond I am of the strikeout, that concerns me when we get around to breaking down Miley’s fantasy value. The number also isn’t very likely to go up much as his career minor league number was 6.99.
Miley was able to combat this less than advantageous K-rate very well with a special 1.71 walk per nine mark. That’s an amazing amount of control for any hurler, let alone a rookie. The result was a 3.89 K/BB ratio, another excellent mark that was 10th best in baseball among pitchers who tossed 162 innings. Putting a downer on the party, I seem to do that a lot don’t I?, is the fact that during his minor league career Miley’s K/BB ratio was 2.23. It’s not reasonable to expect a guy who is basically average in that category for four years to all of a sudden become elite overnight. Hence, the safe money is on that number receding in the 2013 in the form of additional walks (another reason to worry about his ERA staying so low).
Since I’m downing Miley here, let me continue that theme in an unlikely place. Miley was great with RISP last season holding batters to a .222 average and .552 OPSA. Those are elite numbers. Does he have an innate ability to “bear down” and get batters out when the pressure is at it’s highest? Possibly, but it’s still tough to say that Miley will be able to repeat that success in 2013 (with the bases empty last year batters hit .260 with a .663 OPSA).
Miley was also fortunate in the BABIP column. His .293 mark is right on the league average so there is nothing off there, but it is a low number for a guy who surrendered a 23 percent line drive rate. I would also posit that his 6.9 HR/F ratio is a bit low. The 8.2 mark he owns for his career seems like a more likely resting place for that number to be in 2013.
So Miley is a must avoid in 2013 then? I wouldn’t go that far. What I would say is the following. Wins and loses are always random. Miley could pitch exactly the same in 2013 and his record could be 12 and 14. It’s just how that goes. Second, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that his ERA will go up in 2013. Ditto for his WHIP considering he walked fewer batters in ’12 than he had at any point in his pro career. Given that his strikeout rate isn’t anything to look at, Miley is unlikely to fully repeat his value in the coming campaign. All of that means that Miley is a solid 4/5 starter type in mixed leagues so make sure you don’t be seduced by the effectiveness he had as a rookie and draft him earlier than that.
By Ray Flowers