A Tale Of Two Lefties

I went to the Chicago White Sox game last night, and received a text message from infographic artist extraordinaire Nick Tavares, who was at a bar watching the Boston Red Sox play the Texas Rangers. 

The text message read, “I get rage twinge whenever I see Andrew Miller warming up.”

I countered with, “Me too, though I’m at the Cell watching Chris Sale pitch.”

Baseball fans have a long history of struggling with Andrew Miller, because his performance has never quite matched his projected potential. Miller was drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft by the Detroit Tigers (6th overall pick) and his 6’7″, 210 lb left-handed frame had folks clammoring since day one that he would be the next Randy Johnson, but so far he hasn’t come close. 

In Miller’s seven-year career, his 5.20 ERA, 1.703 WHIP, and 5.2 walks per nine are cringe-worthy. His command issues have bounced from the majors to the minors to the bullpen and back again, with changes in his mechanics and sessions fixing issues temporarily, only to backslide into mediocrity. Miller has had success in the Red Sox bullpen this season, his walk-rate (3.3) and ERA (3.25) the best he’s posted in his career, but I can’t say I fault Tavares for being nervous and anxious when he’s warming in the bullpen: At any moment the Andrew Miller Experience of the past could return…and for anyone who has experienced that first hand, you know how difficult it can be to stomach. 

The follow-up text, which is something I’ve said before, is that White Sox starter Chris Sale, who made the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation and has flourished, is the anti-thesis of Andrew Miller–they are different in nearly every possible way. After a few more texts in the exchange, Tavares did exactly what I’d hoped he would do: He created a Venn diagram comparing the two pitchers. 

Enjoy. (More graphics created by Nick Tavares can be found here. If you’re a sports or music fan, I suggest you check out his work).