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*2014 VEB Community Projections: Shelby Miller

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USA TODAY Sports

Fun fact: I could make the claim "Shelby Miller literally only throws four-seam fastballs" and not be that far from the truth!

Indeed, Shelby throws his four-seamer a whopping 73.6% of the time, which is far and away the highest percentage in the Majors amongst qualified starters. Second place was Jordan Zimmerman at 62.1%, and Clayton Kershaw was third at 60.6%. A few other pitchers have a higher fastball percentage than Shelby because they throw other variants (cutters, two-seamers, etc.), but nobody else throws one specific pitch as often as Shelby throws his straightball.

The question is whether or not that's the most efficient distribution of pitches. Certainly, his fastball has been effective enough. Opponents hit .237/.309/.387 off the pitch, which translates to a 101 wRC+ against. His curveball, which he uses 18.6% of the time, is also a really effective pitch though, with opponents hitting .214/.254/.328 off it with a wRC+ of 72. Having done no research on this, you want him to give up fastballs in lieu of curveballs until the point that the marginal benefit of an extra curveball is equal to the marginal cost of losing a fastball, and I don't think we're at that point yet. The curve is good enough that even if the ratios balance somewhat, he'll be a better pitcher for it. But if anyone wants to mathematically prove me wrong, I'd love to hear it.

Anyways, what does he do in 2014? He just came off a great rookie season where he was young (22), effective (3.06 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 2.1 WAR), and relatively healthy (I guess? The postseason was weird), and while his ERA probably won't be as shiny as it was this past year, he's a good bet to improve due to, if nothing else, his youth and relative success.

What do you all think?

Stats via Fangraphs

Season

Team

Age

W

L

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

BABIP

ERA

2009

Cardinals (A)

18

0

0

2

2

3.0

6.00

6.00

.417

6.00

2010

Cardinals (A)

19

7

5

24

24

104.1

12.08

2.85

.348

3.71

2011

Cardinals (A+)

20

2

3

9

9

53.0

13.75

3.40

.330

2.89

2011

Cardinals (AA)

20

9

3

16

16

86.2

9.24

3.43

.308

2.70

2012

Cardinals (AAA)

21

11

10

27

27

136.2

10.54

3.29

.322

4.74

2012

Cardinals

21

1

0

6

1

13.2

10.54

2.63

.273

1.32

2013

Cardinals

22

15

9

31

31

173.1

8.78

2.96

.280

3.06

Total

- - -


16

9

37

32

187.0

8.90

2.94

.280

2.94