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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Not High on Miles

There was an article on Rockies second baseman Aaron Miles on today. The gist of the article is that Miles has been hitting well since (10-27, 1 HR, 1 BB) he was moved to the second spot in the order behind Clint Barmes.

What I thought was interesting in the article were these comments by Rockies manager Clint Hurdle.

"I think he has the freedom now just to be instinctive at the plate with his hands and his bat," Hurdle said. "We've simplified things for him. He doesn't have to work counts to the degree he was earlier.

"We've told him that in offensive counts we want him looking for a pitch he can hit, where before, 3-1, he was taking balls. We tried. He tried. We felt we had better alternatives, so we made the switch. It proved beneficial for both of those guys involved."

Well, it's hard to believe Miles was trying to work the count when he was hitting leadoff since he walked all of 1 time in 87 plate appearances. It's not really possible for him to be less selective is it?

Even with his hot hitting of late his OBP is still only .315, far below acceptable for a top of the order type hitter and even worse in Coors Field. The telling statistic is that Miles has scored just 19 runs in 123 plate appearances despite batting in front of Todd Helton. Contrast that with Barmes who has scored 32 runs in 151 PAs. I'd much rather see Hurdle experiment with Matt Holliday in the second hole - a good baserunner and developing hitter who could benefit from seeing some good pitches in front of Helton.

While he's pretty solid defensively, I just hope the Rockies don't fall in love with Miles and look at him as some kind of long term solution at second base in the same way the Royals thought too highly of Desi Relaford. What would be particularly disturbing is if they trade a second base prospect or hold someone up in favor of Miles or worse yet, sign Miles to a multi-year contract. His career record, and the fact that he's 28 years old, don't add up to the kind of player who actually helps a ballclub. For example, in the minors his highest on base percentage in a full season was .351 in 2003 at Charlotte (and he had a ton of minor league at bats playing seven full seasons). Last year as a 27 year-old rookie for the Rockies he walked just 29 times and record an on base percentage of .329. This, not to mention his 24 extra base hits and .368 slugging percentage in 551 plate appearances - which add up to a miserable 697 OPS. I just can't understand the thinking behind batting a player second who doesn't get on base.

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