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Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: SHELBY MILLER SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

                                                          Shelby Miller

At around this time last season, yours truly used his VERY last pick of one of the Experts League to select St. Louis Cardinals rookie SP Shelby Miller.  Having some minor league pop but nothing over the top and with only 13.2 MLB innings to his name, Miller was pretty much an afterthought when it came to drafts.  However Miller quickly showed off in camp his power pitching game which netted him a rotation spot out of the gate and a major buy low spot for smart fantasy baseball owners.  Miller proceeded to reel off a season that likely would have won him the NL Rookie of the Year Award in any other non-Jose Fernandez season as the numbers looked like those of a low end ace.  Let's take a look:

15-9 3.06 ERA 1.21 WHIP 169 K's in 173.1 IP

In looking at those numbers above, one can easily see how impressive a young pitcher Miller is and he enters 2014 as one of the more moderately priced upside starters in the entire game.  Turning only 24 this October, Miller has a few more seasons of improvement to his name and that is very exciting considering he already is pitching like an ace.  The Cardinals held Miller's innings last season in check in order to protect his health and that smart ploy on their part helped keep the overall price down for 2014 which is a win-win for all of those aiming to add the fireballer to their roster.

When I say fireballer, I am making note of Miller's ability to hit the upper-90's with his fastball and put up big time strikeout numbers.  Miller is a future 200-K pitcher who could get there as soon as this season as he has struck out 185 batters in only 187 career innings.  That is a tremendous ratio and points to power pitcher ace which Miller is capable of becoming.  In addition, Miller's stuff is very tough hit as evidenced of him yielding only 152 hits in those 173.1 innings last season.  That again is a tremendous ratio as Miller shows the complete package of potential dominance. 

Like with all young starters, Miller does have an issue with walks once in awhile as he gave up 57 free passes in 2013.  However he is not a huge liability there but his control fluctuates once in awhile.  Also 20 home runs is too much but again this is something we see in a lot of young starters, especially ones with fastball pop. 

When you put everything together, Shelby Miller is ready to graduate into a fantasy baseball ace for 2014.  While guys like Geritt Cole, rotation-mate Michael Wacha, and Tony Cingrani get all the sleeper hype, Miller is shaping up to be the best buy of the bunch.  This is a stock that is going only in the upwards direction and the stats Miller should supply his fantasy baseball owners this season could be on par with a starter who goes in Round 3 or 4 instead of 7 or 8 where he is likely to be chosen.

2014 PROJECTION:  15-6 3.04 ERA 1.16 WHIP 195 K

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