Kelly, Miller and Big City: 3 more things to think about for 2014

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by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL | @TheJJBailey

KMOV.com

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 5 at 6:43 AM

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(BaseballStL) — The march toward Jupiter rolls on, and the idle hypothesizing continues. In this second set of things to think of, we retread some ground, but ultimately hope to jar some memories about a few more guys that are going to be under the spotlight in camp. 

Can Miller Time last?

Shelby Miller became the uncomfortable side story of October, pitching one inning against the Pirates in the NLDS, giving up a home run and disappearing from action entirely. 

While it was somewhat unexpected, and most certainly a tad awkward, it was an explainable end to the rookie’s first full season. 

Despite placing in the top three for Rookie of the Year, his second half was far less productive than his first (which was about as perfect as a rookie could be). 

For traditionalists, he had surrendered nearly as many earned runs (25 second half, 34 first half), hits (64 second half, 88 first half), doubles (11 second half, 14 first half) and walks (28 second half, 29 first half), as well as the same number of home runs (10) and he had faced roughly 70 percent of the batters he did in the first half. 

For sabermetric fans, his WHIP was .23 higher, his FIP was up 1.52 and his BABIP was actually lower in the second half. 

No matter how you look at them, the numbers paint a picture of a rookie running out of gas after his first full season, or perhaps hitters making adjustments to his approach. 

He’s 23, and by all accounts an absolute monster in the training facilities, so it’s likely a matter of conditioning. The rotation stands to be loaded no matter how it shakes out, but Miller’s slot will be a product of how much his long-term stamina and ability to counter adjust improve. 

One would have to think another second-half fade would be a supreme disappointment to both Miller and the organization, especially he’s near the front of the rotation. Last year the young guns mixed and matched with ease, but the front office has to be chasing stability.

Dancin’ Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly had something of the opposite season. An inauspicious start, likely facilitated by an unnatural casting as a reliever, left Joe Kelly as the odd man out in the first half. Despite getting three starts prior to the All Star break, his only win came in a relief appearance.

In the second half, Kelly evolved into something altogether terrifying to opposing batters. He made 12 starts, won nine of them and improved many statistical categories despite facing more batters. 

He notched an impressive recovery the road in the NLDS, and pitched to a draw against Zach Grienke in Game 1 of the NLCS. 

He has an erratic approach, and may not hold those numbers over the course of a full season, but it sure would be a shame to see him back in the pen; especially with his numbers being so gruesome there. 

Summer of the City

Does Matt Adams hold up over a full season? This has been debated ad nauseam, with different predictors pointing to expectations all over the spectrum. 

He has the power, as his time in the minors shows. 2013 wasn’t an outlier interns of pop, he has been a masher for years. 

However, his 104 strikeouts in 410 MLB plate appearances could be a concern. It’s a small sample size, too small to feel certain one way or the other; but going through the numbers since 2009, it’s not out of line to expect a 25 percent strikeout rate for Adams. 

He showed signs of being able to beat the shift (though again, small sample size), but he will have to prove he can keep defenses honest early. His home run power is all pull, and nearly everything left of center field was a fly out. 

He stressed bringing his defense along, and finished with near-league-average marks in the field. The glove isn’t driving the narrative. 

The tale of Big City’s 2014 will be whether he evolves into the .270-hitting, 30 homer guy everyone is hoping for, or if a full season of exposure calls Allen Craig back to the infield. 

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