The Fall and Rise of Andrew Miller

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It seems as though the year 2006 occurred ages ago. Looking back it was a completely different culture despite it only being a short nine years ago. George W. Bush was in his second term as Leader of the Free World, Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira was on the radio every five minutes, and people were literally trampling over one another just to purchase a Wii game console.

For Detroit Tigers fans, 2006 was the year their beloved Boys of Summer went to the World Series for the first time since 1984. And due to the excitement surrounding the possibility of October glory just a mere three seasons since a 119-loss season, many forget that Detroit had super-prospect Andrew Miller in their back pocket after drafting him 6th overall in the 2006 MLB Draft.

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  • When drafted, Miller was the freshly crowned Baseball America National Player of the Year, earned for his dominance at University of North Carolina. Detroit snatched him up when given the chance and awarded him with a guaranteed 5.45 million dollars.

    It’s difficult to fathom now, but at the time Miller was the future of baseball and in the eyes of many, the star Detroit hankered for. A “Top 10” Prospect according to Baseball America, Andrew Miller shined with promise and glistened with potential. But his career has been nothing more than an enormous disappointment; up and down from the minor leagues and little impact on rosters has been the tale of Miller’s big-league years.

    Until recently, that is. 2014 was a big year for the Florida native as his overall performance dramatically improved. When traded to the Baltimore Orioles at this past trade deadline, Miller served a valuable role to the Oriole’s postseason jaunt. Heading into the 2015 offseason he was the most sought-after reliever on the market before signing a hefty contract with the New York Yankees.

    How did this all happen?

    This is the fall and rise of Andrew Miller.

    After just two lackluster seasons in Motown, in which he posted a 6.10 ERA (06′) and a 5.63 ERA (07′) , the highly-touted youngster was sent to South Beach in a deal with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins.

    When Miller was traded to the Marlins, he was ranked as the 10th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He was the centerpiece of the package sent in return for Miguel Cabrera, and at the time Detroit was surrendering one of the best prospects to come through their organization since Alan Trammell.

    It’s difficult to fathom that Miller was regarded with that much promise in the baseball community. Once a member of The Fish, Miller’s performance was one met with calamity.

    In 2008, Miller appeared in 29 major-league games; posting a 6-10 record and a 5.87 ERA. The rest of his season was spent in the minors.

    2009 was short and sour as Miller only appeared in 20 games due to an oblique injury. 2010 then hit like a train and bad went to worst as Miller was optioned to Miami’s Triple A team and was not called up until August 18th that season.

    This once immortal prospect, the guy that was the return for a future Triple Crown winner, was spending a majority of his time in the minors. It is almost unbelievable when put the scenario into perspective but Miller was a melting pot of blunder.

    Reason being is that his entire rise to the majors he was considered a starting pitcher, which he is not. Andrew Miller is not a starting pitcher. Any time he has taken the mound as a started it has resulted in disaster, and neither the Marlins nor the Tigers could seem to figure that out.

     “Moving to bullpen was a big deal for me. That helped me. It certainly allowed me to kind of direct some of the bad patterns I’d created”-  Andrew Miller

    In November of 2010 Miller was traded to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for reliever Dustin Richardson, whom hasn’t been on a major-league roster since 2010.

    Miller’s hibernation in the minors continued while in Boston and it wasn’t until June 2011 that he appeared in a MLB game again. Things began looking up for the former Tiger as in 2012 he completely turned things around, becoming a valuable asset to Boston’s bullpen. After posting a respectable 3.35 ERA in 12′, Miller followed up with a 2.64 ERA in 2013. This was the first time Miller had an ERA below 3.00. Serving mainly as a specialist, Miller appeared in 37 games in 13′ and paved the way for an explosive 2014. His newfound success was all owed to his transition from a starter to a reliever.

    It was a long and rocky road, but as soon as Opening Day of the 2014 season was underway, Miller’s resurgence into the spotlight began. The once “has-been” catapulted himself into a group of elite relievers and shattered every career record he had set. 

    Sep 1, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Andrew Miller (48) pitches during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Twins won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    As a member of both the Red Sox and the Orioles, Miller appeared in more games than ever before (73), struck out more batters than he ever had (103), and posted his lower ERA ever (2.02). His regular season glory spilled into the postseason as Miller logged 7.1 innings, striking out 8, and not allowing a single run.

    This caught the eye of every single club in baseball and made Miller the most sought-after reliever on the market in 2015. On December 5th, 2014 Miller reached an agreement with the New York Yankees on a  deal worth $36 million over four years. Just three seasons ago this man wasn’t even in the majors, and now he’ll be under the bright lights in the Bronx, most likely closing in the absence of David Robertson.

    Baseball is a funny game as it is so incredibly human; and just like reality there are drastic ups and downs every single day. The story of Andrew Miller is one that seems to be forgotten, but deserves the spotlight from time to time. It seemed as though his career just continued in a downward plummet, but he proved us all wrong. Usually we hear about the rise and fall of a figure, but this time it was the exact opposite.

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