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Andrew Miller (baseball)

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller on August 30, 2016 (1).jpg
Cleveland Indians – No. 24
Relief pitcher
Born: (1985-05-21) May 21, 1985 (age 31)
Gainesville, Florida
Bats: Left Throws: Left
MLB debut
August 30, 2006, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
(through 2016 season)
Win–loss record 43–41
Earned run average 4.22
Strikeouts 713
Saves 49
Career highlights and awards

Andrew Mark Miller (born May 21, 1985) is an American professional baseball relief pitcher for the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Yankees. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before the Tigers drafted him. Primarily a starting pitcher early in his major league career, Miller converted to full-time relief in 2012 while pitching for Boston, and sustained success followed. He won the American League Reliever of the Year Award in 2015, and was selected as an MLB All-Star for the first time in 2016.

Miller played college baseball for the North Carolina Tar Heels, and was the Baseball America College Player of the Year and Roger Clemens Award winner in 2006. The Tigers chose him sixth overall in the 2006 amateur draft, and he made his MLB debut that same year after three minor league appearances. Miller was traded by the Tigers to Florida after the 2007 season, then traded to Boston after the 2010 season. The Red Sox traded Miller to the Orioles in 2014, and Miller signed as a free agent with the Yankees after the season. The Yankees traded Miller to the Indians during the 2016 season.

Personal life

Andrew Miller was born to David and Kim Miller in Gainesville, Florida. His uncle, Dan Miller, was a kicker in the the National Football League and played college football at the University of Miami. Miller's favorite athlete is Maria Sharapova. His favorite book is the The Da Vinci Code and favorite film Days of Thunder. He graduated from Buchholz High School in Gainesville.[1]

Amateur career

University of North Carolina

After graduation from Buchholz, Miller attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and majored in business administration. He pitched for the Tar Heels baseball team, posited in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).[1]

2004 season

As freshman in 2004, Miller made his college debut as a starting pitcher versus Gardner–Webb on February 25, recording six shutout innings pitched. He struggled with control early but was selected for the weekend rotation in the California series on March 14. On May 16, he struck out a season-best 11 batters while allowing three hits in eight shutout innings at No. 2 Miami. His first career complete game was on May 28 against Duke in the ACC Tournament, in which he permitted two runs and struck out seven.[1]

In 15 starts and three relief appearances in 2004, Miller finished with a 6–3 win–loss record (W−L), 2.93 earned run average (ERA), 88 strikeouts in 89 innings, and a .202 batting average against (BAA). He led the ACC in batting average against, and was third in the conference in ERA and fifth with 8.90 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (K/9). He led Tar Heel starters in ERA and led the club in strikeouts. He was named second-team All-ACC honors and to Baseball America's All-Freshman second team.[1]

2005 season

Miller won his first seven decision of 2005 while permitting three earned runs in his first seven starts. In his first three starts, all victories over Appalachian State, UNC Wilmington and Birmingham–Southern, he allowed one total earned run. He was selected as ACC Pitcher of the Week on February 28 and March 21. Miller struck out a career-high 12 batters in a no-decision against Arizona State on March 4. On two occasions, he carried no-hitters into the sixth inning, once each against Birmingham–Southern and Clemson.[1] He tied an NCAA division I record by hitting seven batters against Virginia on April 1.[2] Miller pitched in tournament losses both to Wake Forest at the ACC Tournament and to Florida in the NCAA Regional in his hometown of Gainesville.[1]

In 16 starts, Miller totaled 96 23 innings and posted an 8–4 record, 2.98 ERA, 104 strikeouts, .230 BAA, 9.68 K/9, 52 bases on balls and 19 hit batters. The strikeout total ranked as the seventh-highest in Tar Heel history and the most since 1995. He led the ACC in strikeouts per nine innings, was in sixth in BAA and seventh in ERA. For the second consecutive season, Miller earned second-team All-ACC honors.[1]

2006 season

In his junior year in 2006, Miller produced a 13−2 W−L with a 2.48 ERA, 133 strikeouts and a .222 BAA in 123 13 innings.[3] The Tar Heels were runners-up to Oregon State for the College World Series championship. In the final game of the three-game series, Miller relieved future MLB teammate Daniel Bard with the runners on base, including the go-ahead and series-deciding run in Bill Rowe on third base. Miller induced the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Ryan Gipson, to hit a ground ball. Second baseman Bryan Steed fielded and threw wide of first baseman Tim Federowicz, allowing Rowe to score and giving Oregon the title.[4]

A number of awards followed Miller's accomplishments in 2006, including Baseball America's College Player of the Year[5] and the Roger Clemens Award winner as the nation's top collegiate pitcher.[6] The ACC selected him as conference Pitcher of the Year.[7] He was chosen to be on the rosters of All-America first teams by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, NCBWA and[8] Further, Miller was selected as a finalist in 2006 for the Golden Spikes Award by USA Baseball, won by Tim Lincecum.[9]

Career accomplishments and honors

Miller set Carolina strikeout records for both single season (133 in 2006) and career (325). He also ranked third in Tar Heels' history with 27 wins and fourth in total innings pitched with 309.[1]

On January 30, 2016, UNC commemorated Miller's accomplishments during the half-time of a men's basketball game versus Boston College and retired his uniform number 33. He became the third Tar Heel baseball alumnus thusly recognized, following Dave Lemonds and B. J. Surhoff.[10][11]

Chatham Anglers

In the summers of 2004 and 2005, Miller pitched for the Chatham Anglers (A's) in the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL). In a 2004 game called by fog, he struck out 12 batters in four innings. Named to the league's All-Star Game that summer, in an inning he registered all three outs on strikeouts on 15 pitches. His season totals included 48 strikeouts in 40 innings, 2–0 W–L and a 2.03 ERA. Baseball America named him the league's number one Major League prospect.[1]

In 2005, Miller posted a 1.65 ERA. Baseball America rated him the College Summer Player of the Year and the number one prospect in the CCBL in 2005. That year, he also won the Robert A. McNeece Award (outstanding professional prospect) and was a co-winner with Tim Norton of Falmouth and Uconn for the B.F.C. Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher Award.[8]

Overall with the A's, MIller won eight games without being defeated and struck out 114 batters in 89 innings. Once the compulsory five-year waiting period concluded, Miller was elected to the CCBL Hall of Fame in 2012. Former Chatham general manager Charlie Thoms presented him for enshrinement on November 10, 2012, at the Chatham Bars Inn.[8]

Professional career

Draft and minor leagues

Although Miller was considered a possible first overall selection in the 2006 Major League Baseball draft, the Kansas City Royals instead took Luke Hochevar,[12] and the Detroit Tigers chose Miller sixth overall.[13] They agreed to a contract with a guaranteed value of $5.45 million and a signing bonus of $3.55 million on August 4, 2006.[3] He made his professional debut on August 20, 2006, with the Lakeland Tigers of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League. His stint with Lakeland lasted less than a week, as he pitched his third and final outing six days later. After five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, Detroit called him up to the major leagues.[14]

Miller during his tenure with the Detroit Tigers in 2007

Detroit Tigers

Miller made his major league debut on August 30, 2006, at Yankee Stadium against the New York Yankees, pitching one scoreless inning and allowing one baserunner, Craig Wilson, on a hit by pitch.[15] In eight games, Miller posted a 0–1 record with a 6.10 ERA, walking ten batters in 9 13 innings, including seven of 16 left-handers faced. The Tigers advanced to the playoffs and did not include Miller on the playoff roster.[16] They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series.[17]

While Miller did not make the Tigers' opening day roster in 2007, he made his first major league start May 18, 2007, versus the Cardinals in place of injured starter Jeremy Bonderman. He earned his first major league victory in his season debut, pitching six scoreless innings and giving up four hits while walking three and striking out two. He was optioned back to the minors after Bonderman recovered from injury, playing for Lakeland and the Erie Seawolves of the Class AA Eastern League.

The Tigers recalled Miller when Nate Robertson was sent to the disabled list (DL) with arm fatigue. Miller earned a 15–7 victory over the New York Mets behind another superb offensive backing by his teammates. Miller's best game pitched in 2007 was a six-inning performance in Atlanta, allowing four hits and no runs while also striking out two batters and walking two ending in a 5–0 Tigers victory. In 13 starts in 2007, Miller was credited with a 5–5 record and 5.63 ERA.

Florida Marlins

On December 5, 2007, the Tigers traded Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio de la Cruz and Burke Badenhop to the Florida Marlins for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera.[18] That year, Miller appeared in 29 games, starting 20, going 6–10 with a 5.87 ERA.

Miller injured his oblique muscle in 2009. On May 16, 2009, Florida activated the left-hander off the disabled list. He made 20 appearances, 14 of them starts, going 3–5 with a 4.84 ERA.

Miller at Florida Marlins spring training 2010

During spring training in 2010, the Marlins announced that they would assign Miller to their Triple-A minor league team, the New Orleans Zephyrs to open the season. The club recalled him to the major leagues on August 18. Miller finished the 2010 year 1–5 with a 8.54 ERA in nine games and seven starts.

Boston Red Sox

On November 12, 2010, the Marlins traded Miller to the Boston Red Sox for relief pitcher Dustin Richardson.[19] Boston non-tendered him less than a month later. Manager Terry Francona estimated that he "must have made 15 calls that winter trying to get him to come to the Red Sox" after they club non-tendered him because he saw that flaws in his pitching mechanics could be easily corrected.[20] Miller re-signed with Boston on December 16, 2010.[21] During 2011 spring training, Miller was optioned to minor league camp and announced that he would begin the year as a starting pitcher with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.[22]

On June 19, 2011, Boston purchased Miller's contract. The Red Sox won the first four games that Miller started, and Miller was credited as the winning pitcher in three of them. His first loss of the 2011 season came on July 15, as the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. He was pulled after 2 23 innings, having already given up seven runs on five hits, including a grand slam to Ben Zobrist.[23] He finished the 2011 year 6–3 with a 5.54 ERA in 17 games and 12 starts.

Miller pitching for the Boston Red Sox in 2012

Miller began the 2012 season in the minors while recovering from an injury. When he was called up to the majors, the Red Sox moved him to the bullpen.[24] He finished 2012 with a 3–2 record and a 3.35 ERA in 53 appearances.

On July 6, 2013, Miller suffered a foot injury and left the game. An MRI revealed that there were torn ligaments in the lisfranc zone of his foot. As a result, Miller missed the remainder of the 2013 season. He finished the 2013 season 1–2 with a 2.64 ERA in 37 games. Despite his year-ending absence, the Red Sox awarded Miller a championship ring after winning the 2013 World Series.

Miller started the 2014 season with the Red Sox by making 50 appearances and going 3–5 with a 2.34 ERA.

Baltimore Orioles

Miller pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in 2014

On July 31, 2014, Boston traded Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for minor-league pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez.[25] On September 7, 2014, Miller completed a scoreless 11th in a 7−5 victory over Tampa Bay for his first career save.[26] The Orioles clinched their first American League East title in 17 years on September 16, 2014, in an 8−2 win over Toronto.[27] He faced two batters in that game and struck both out.[28]

According to Brooks Baseball, opponents batted .071 against Miller's slider in 2014.[29] They batted .153 against him overall.[13] In 23 appearances with Baltimore, Miller finished 2–0 with a 1.35 ERA. With both Boston and Baltimore in 2014, Miller made 73 appearances going 5–5 with a 2.02 ERA and 103 strikeouts. During the Orioles' American League Division Series (ALDS) sweep of the Detroit Tigers, Miller earned a hold in two of the Oriole victories. He pitched a total of 3 23 innings of no-hit and no-run baseball while striking out three Tigers batters[30] and retired 22 of 24 batters faced in seven scoreless innings overall in the 2014 playoffs.[20]

New York Yankees

On December 5, 2014, Miller reached an agreement on a contract with the New York Yankees lasting four years and worth $36 million.[31] Before the season started, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced that Miller and Dellin Betances would split the closing job. Both men had one career save entering the season.[32] Miller began the season with 17 23 scoreless innings,[33] recording his first save in a Yankee uniform on April 8, 2015.[34] On April 27, he became the first Yankee player to record eight saves in a 20-game span.[35]

Miller pitching for the New York Yankees in 2015

According to Brooks Baseball, opponents batted .092 against Miller's slider in 2015.[29] Miller finished the season with a 2.04 ERA, 36 saves, and 100 strikeouts in 61 23 innings pitched. He won the 2015 American League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award.[36]

Prior to the 2016 season, the Yankees informed Miller that he would serve as the seventh inning setup man[37] with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman.[38] However, in spring training, MLB suspended Chapman for 30 games to commence with the start of the upcoming regular season,[39] and Miller resumed closer duties until his return, saving nine games. He was selected to his first All-Star Game, played at Petco Park in San Diego. He pitched two-thirds of an inning and was removed after loading the bases, but no runs were charged to him.[40] Before the midseason trade, Miller recorded 77 strikeouts in 45 13 innings while posting an ERA of 1.39 in 44 games for the Yankees.

Cleveland Indians

2016 regular season

On July 31, 2016, the Yankees traded Miller to the Cleveland Indians for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J. P. Feyereisen.[41] Miller's first save for Cleveland was in a 5−2 victory over New York at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2016. He became the first pitcher to earn a save for and against the Yankees in the same season since 1988.[42]

Francona, now reunited with Miller as the Indians' manager, commented that he saw "a guy that is willing to pitch any inning." He deployed Miller in every inning from the fifth into extra innings,[43] "in the highest stress situations,"[44] appearing before the eighth inning in nine of 26 games. With Cleveland, Miller completed 29 innings, allowed two walks, and struck out 46, posting a 1.55 ERA. With both the Yankees and Indians in the 2016 regular season, he totaled a 10−1 record, 1.45 ERA, 0.68 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP),[45] 123 strikeouts and nine walks.[43] He became the first major leaguer in history to record 120 or more strikeouts in a season while allowing fewer than ten walks.[46] According to Brooks Baseball, opponents batted .159 against Miller's slider in 2016.[29]

I have been in many postseasons and hadn't seen anybody dominate like Andrew Miller. Not even the great Mariano Rivera I saw having as much success as Andrew Miller, overpowering hitters.

− Former Red Sox pitcher and Hall of Famer, Pedro Martínez, on Miller's first four 2016 playoff outings[47]

2016 postseason

The Indians swept Boston in the ALDS and Miller completed four innings in two appearances, permitting two hits, walking two and striking out seven.[47] He played in two innings each of Games 1 and 2 in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Toronto Blue Jays, he striking out ten of 12 batters faced. After striking out Kevin Pillar in the seventh inning of Game 2, he matched Phil Coke in the 2012 World Series as the only pitchers to strike out at least five consecutive batters in the postseason. Miller also became the first pitcher in major league history to strike out at least five batters each on consecutive days.[46] Covering his first four appearances in the 2016 postseason, he struck out 17 in 7 23 innings.[47]

Miller recorded the final four outs of Game 3, striking out three in a 4−2 win, for his first career postseason save.[48] In Game 5, he completed 2 23 innings as the Indians won the ALCS. He was named ALCS Most Valuable Player (MVP), having completed 7 23 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, no walks and striking out 14. His strikeout total set an ALCS record for relievers. He also was credited with three holds and one save.[49] At that point, he had completed scoreless 11 23 innings in the 2016 playoffs, and 20 total to begin his playoff career.[50]

Pitching style

Attempting to lead sequences against hitters with the fastball and myriad mechanical issues limited Miller's success as a starting pitcher early in his major league career. He also threw a changeup more frequently earlier in his career. His most effective pitch is the slider, and after he began to use that more frequently, he experimented more with varying the output. One variety, with a flat and horizontal break, more closely resembles a fastball than the others by traveling in a more direct path. Another is designed to dart toward the back foot of a right-handed batter.[51]

With each of the different teams for which he played before converting to relief, Miller experimented with different pitching philosophies. Detroit encouraged him to throw harder while while Florida wanted him to throw more changeups and curveballs. He also experimented with the different arm slots. One day while playing bullpen catch with Edward Mujica, he suggested that Miller keep his back foot on the rubber for as long as possible.[52]


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