Usually after out-of-nowhere 30 home run seasons, the thought is to sell high. Fantasy baseball, and dynasty specifically given the nature of the competitors in the league likely being more adept than the average league, is not played in a vacuum. The other players have as much access to advanced statistics and trends as you do, so the price of a player is often up for debate.
In a competitive dynasty league that I own Miller in and could use steals, I offered him straight up for Eduardo Nunez. My offer was declined, which I think speaks to how some value the two players, but more specifically, how valuable speed is in deeper long-term leagues.
Since that offer, Miller has been labeled the Rays new second baseman after the Logan Forsythe trade. This will provide Miller some nice value in deeper leagues over the next two years. It was looking as if Miller would be a first baseman, and powerful first basemen with low averages and on base percentages are not too valuable in this fantasy climate. However, even though second basemen have been hitting more home runs than usual, Miller having middle infield eligibility for at least the next two years is definitely a plus as he will play these two years at ages 27 and 28.
In terms of last year’s production, Miller was very pull happy despite having his best exit velocity on pitches on the outer part of the zone. Another note, courtesy of StatCast, is that Miller actually hit much better against secondary offerings than fastballs. His slugging percentage against fastballs was .417 while he had a .494 SLG against changeups, .519 SLG against curveballs, and .600 SLG against sliders. In total, 17 of Miller’s 30 home runs came after an 0-1 count. As a player who lacks consistently great contact skills, being able to both recognize and put power into secondary offerings was a huge key in Miller’s success last year.
The questions is whether that will continue. As we write this now, I am sure the scouting reports on Miller are now out that he can hit the soft stuff. The alternative of just continuing to pound fastballs does not sound incredibly appealing from a pitcher’s perspective. It would seem as if the ability to hit the soft stuff elevates Miller’s floor a bit higher than most would suspect. Being able to hit the ball out of the park despite being behind in the count is not a talent that a plethora of middle infielders possess.
Miller’s improvement last year against lefties should also be noted. He was far from “good” against them, but his 88 wRC+ was markedly higher than the 42 and 54 marks he posted in the two previous seasons. At the very least, this will allow the Rays to put him out there against lefties more frequently than most would immediately assume.
But the main reason you would consider buying Miller after what could potentially be an outlier 30 home run season is his age. Being able to hit well enough to play at a number of different positions is obviously a big plus, but being 27 and having a 30 home run season under his belt already puts him in pretty rare territory. Only eight other players who were 26 or younger last year had 30 home runs (three more had 29). Of those eight, only two were middle infielders in Manny Machado and Rougned Odor.
While it is reasonable to expect Miller’s counting stats to decline despite the arguments made above, even a slight drop off in those metrics would make Miller a flexible and valuable player in any deeper dynasty league. In those types of leagues, depth is almost always undervalued and having a player that you can slot in at either middle infield spot, first base, and MI/CI if you carry those positions is a very nice boost. Miller may not be the player to win you your league, but being proactive in trying to acquire a number of players like Miller on the cheap most certainly could.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.