Shelby Miller Traded to Arizona: Temperature Rising in the Desert

The Arizona Diamondbacks keep the moves coming early in the Winter Meetings. The most recent one was trading for pitcher Shelby Miller. He’ll be even better in 2016.

The Arizona Diamondbacks added another piece to the starting rotation Tuesday night. Just days after coming out of nowhere with the Zack Greinke signing, the Diamondbacks made a blockbuster trade by acquiring starting pitcher Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves. Miller had his best season to date in 2015, despite the win-loss record. The move to the desert greatly increases his value in 2016. 

Miller’s been in the league for just three seasons, but he’s been a highly touted prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system. In two full seasons with the Cardinals, he went 25-18 with a 3.41 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 296:130 K:BB ratio. The Cardinals then traded him to Atlanta, which dropped his fantasy ranking.

In 33 starts, Shelby Miller went 6-17 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 171:73 K:BB ratio. The ERA and strikeout total were great, both career highs. However, the 17 losses hurt a lot of fantasy owners. My colleague, Brad Kelly, wrote an article in October using Miller as the main reason fantasy leagues should abolish the wins category. I also wrote an article, explaining that his value should not be determined solely on his win-loss record. He had 21 quality starts, tied for 16th among all pitchers.

Miller finished the season as the 40th-best starting pitcher on the Player Rater. As you may or may not know, ESPN’s Player Rater assigns a value to each stat based on their performance throughout the season. And, obviously, the lack of wins hurt Miller’s rating. Of the starting pitchers, he was 14th in ERA and 30th in strikeouts. On the flip side, he finished 100th based on wins.

The move to Arizona will help Miller’s win-loss record. Even though the Diamondbacks starting pitchers had just 51 wins, 20th in the league, the offense was one of the best in the league. In the trade, Arizona was able to keep breakout outfielder A.J. Pollock and still has superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The team also had a nice season from second-year outfielder David Peralta.

Shelby Miller will still be drafted lower than he should be despite the great 2015 campaign. You can’t solely blame him for the lack of wins. The Braves did not provide enough run support for Miller, or any of their other starting pitchers, only 45 wins. While the National League West is a tougher hitting division than the East, the better offense and lack of pressure in Arizona will make for an improved 2016 season for Shelby Miller.

Projections: 10-14, 3.10 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 175 strikeouts

Draft: Round 16