Getty Images

Report: Brad Miller could move to second base in 2017

5 Comments

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that Rays’ shortstop Brad Miller could see some time at second base in 2017. The team is hurting for infield depth after trading second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers last week and reportedly favors their internal options over another free agent pickup.

While Miller has the big league experience to stick at second, the Rays also have backup options in Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin and Daniel Roberts. The club hasn’t made any significant acquisitions since they swapped Forsythe for right-hander Jose De Leon, and Topkin doesn’t see many viable free agent options left on the market.

 

The 27-year-old shortstop batted .243/.304/.482 with a career-best 30 home runs and 81 RBI for the Rays in 2016. After the team traded for the Giants’ Matt Duffy in August, Miller was shifted from his full-time role at shortstop over to first base — a disappointing change for the infielder, per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain:

Obviously, I’m a shortstop. I’ve been working hard and doing everything, and playing well there. Yesterday was kind of a punch to the gut, them telling me he was their shortstop now.

 

With Miller at second, the Rays should have an easier time filling the void at first base. The pool of available free agent candidates includes Mark Reynolds, Mike Napoli and Chris Carter, the latter of whom delivered a league-best 41 home runs with the Brewers in 2016.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.