The Best Young Player on the M's


Who knows where Brad Miller ranks among the top 25 Young Players In Baseball, or whether he does.  BJOL doesn't post the stats.  But the Logo is sure doin' good by Mariner standards.

He's now played exactly 300 games in the majors, and scored 5.5 WAR with them.  In other words, he has been a 3-WAR player in his first two years, and his arc is pointing up.  His batted-ball distance on fly balls is up 22 feet (!) from last year, as any Fangraphs uber-writer could tell you, but he's hitting in a certain amount of bad luck.

Actually at the end of June, he was tracking #26 in the American League for fly ball distance.  This improvement in distance follows a winter in which he put on 15+ pounds.  You didn't need stats to tell you that the ball jumps off his bat, but as of today Miller is still tracking #58 in both leagues for fly ball distance.  The shortstops ahead of him are --- Troy Tulowitzki.

Even cooler, Miller's fly ball launch angle is -2 degrees.  Tulowitzki's launch angle is also -2 degrees.  Other hitters with that launch angle are Scott Van Slyke, Nelson Cruz (-1), Adam Jones, Adrian Gonzalez (-4), J.D. Martinez (-4), and Mike Stanton (-3).

He isn't tracking to be a Hall of Famer, but it doesn't look to me like Brad Miller is done growing, does it you?  He is already one of our five good players -- the stars, and Seth Smith, and him.  Time to put him at shortstop, or center field, and leave him in there already.


Dr. D is not Ketel Marte's biggest supporter, that's for sure.  His question is what, exactly, Marte will add to a 90% contact rate.  But he was a quite decent player in AAA at ages 20-21.  Given his template, you can figure on him to have a major league career.  A late bloomer, he's not.


Jesus Montero's career has been interrupted and camouflaged.  But then, so was Josh Hamilton's, and Hamilton's years in the weeds didn't take anything away from the fun of his 37 straight upper-deck shots at that one All-Star game.  As M's fans, let's not forget that he was a cleanup hitter in AAA at the age of 20.

As an Albert Pujols comp, Montero has always seemed lacking in the pure PWR department.  But the man can cover a baseball, has a tremendous HIT tool for a big guy, and his power is fine if you want to compare him to ordinary mortals.  

The other day, some Rockie or other fired a 95-MPH jam pitch to him, first pitch Montero saw that night.  It was knee-high, and it was in off the plate.  Montero casually swatted it like a mosquito, like a 1-iron, and it rolled all the way to the fence.  Nelson Cruz his ownself would have had trouble launching a pitch off his knee.  That's a lefthander's wheelhouse; righties like to extend their arms against their diaphragms, out and over.

Anyway, that's one of the things that would be juiciest about a regime change -- a blank slate for Jesus Montero.


James Paxton might or might not show up on an Excel file, using the James BYIP formula strictly.  But the math is our servant, not the other way around.  Pax is just getting started, has the potential to win a Cy Young award, and has now had most of two (four?) years away from pitching due to this and that cause unrelated to shoulders and elbows.  Once he jells, he could rip off 10+ years of 200 glorious innings.

Taijuan Walker, you might or might not have noticed, is doing good for his age.  And his baseball age is younger than his life age.  You would think that next year, if not this year, Taijuan will show up high on James' objective list for Best Young Players In Baseball.


Dr D



That's an interesting axis of analysis because you have one player who's relatively baseball young (Walker) due to inexperience and a comparatively seasoned baseball player (Paxton) who's also baseball young, but because of injuries to non-critical things.

On the one hand, Walker might be 'fresher' because he didn't play baseball until so late. At the same time, you could argue that because his baseball parts are underdeveloped, he could be more of an injury risk.

On the other hand, Paxton has already gotten injured more, so he's the epitome of 'oh poo, he's gonna blow a shoulder' fear. But you can argue that because he's baseball seasoned and 'resting' with non-pitching-vital injuries, he's less of an injury risk than Taijuan.

Is there any medicalsh knowledge that could be shined on our current scenario of young guns?

GLS's picture

Felix, Iwakuma, Walker, Paxton, Montgomery. Elias and Nuno in the sixth and seventh slots. That's a pretty good group to roll with next year. Gotta fix the bullpen though. 

GLS's picture

Marte brings athleticism. He's a bit fringy as a shortstop, but he should be able to run everything down in the outfield. I'd like him a wee bit better with a bit more pop in the bat, but he's young and rail thin and will almost certainly add some weight to his frame in the next few years, and hopefully that will add some sting to the bat. But the contact rate is foundational and makes you feel good about the potential. Contact rate is probably why there was still interest in Ackley after all these years. 


MLB average on base is .314.  M's as a team, even with the 'Edgar surge', are at .303.  We have four guys over the MLB average so far--a group which does NOT include Cano.

So I don't really care if we find anyone else who can hit the ball over the fence--we've got that.  Just find people who can get on base.

Might we have options?

In AAA, Flores is .387 this year.  Marte was .359 this season.  Knock .020 off of each of them, and they'd still be improvements.  Put a .340 number into the leadoff spot, and life looks much better.  

GLS's picture

I totally agree with you on that, but we also know that most of the time, OBP correlates with power, or at least some semblance of power. When a hitter, even a good one, simply has no ability to punish the ball, the pitcher is more likely to stay in the zone, which means OBP will mostly be driven by batting average. That's the Ichiro template, and of course we've seen how that's fallen off for him the last few years.

My view is that the ideal template for Safeco Field is a good contact hitter with at least moderate power. To me, the ability to make contact consistently comes before the power, which is why I would have never made the trade for Mark Trumbo. Plus, guys like Trumbo hurt you in Safeco's spacious outfield. 


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