Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 2/20/14
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Miller or Franklin?  Decision time is coming The 2014 Seattle Mariners‘ offseason has been anything but dull.  From Willie Bloomquist resigning to Robinson Cano joining the team, yes, the M’s certainly have given us plenty to talk about.  Even new Manager Lloyd McClendon is getting into the act, getting into a war of words with a Yankees coach about Cano. The one question that still seems to linger is this:  Who’s going to play short stop? With the rest of the lineup pretty well decided and whether free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz signs with Seattle or not the real question is short.  The M’s have two young candidates that will compete this spring over the position in Nick Franklin and Brad MIller. Let’s look at some numbers to compare these two would-be 6 holers, and along the way I’ll show you why I feel Franklin is the clear choice over Miller.  These are their major league numbers from the 2013 season: Games Avg PA Hits 2B 3B HR HR/PA BB OB Ops SLG RBI SB E Miller 76 .265 335 81 11 6 8 41.9 24 .318 .737 418 36 5 8 Franklin 102 .225 412 83 20 1 12 34.3 42 .303 .686 382 45 6 12 A couple of things leap off the page to me when I compare some of their numbers.  Miller is considered the favorite by many to win the position.  When I look at this, I have to ask myself why.  Take a look at the extra base power Franklin shows. Granted, Franklin has the lower batting average.   He went through a three-week swoon that started the last week of July and lasted until mid-August.  During that stretch, he hit .113 with an OPS of just .378 with 20 strikeouts in 53 ABs.  The slump is what deflated his batting average to .225 for the season. Before the slump, he had people talking Rookie of the Year.  It’s amazing how three weeks can change people’s perception 180 degrees in regard to a young player.  Let’s take out those three weeks and see what happens to the numbers. Games Avg PA Hits 2B 3B HR HR/PA BB OB Ops SLG RBI SB E Miller 76 .265 335 81 11 6 8 41.9 24 .318 .737 418 36 5 8 Franklin 81 .243 336 77 20 1 12 34.3 42 .356 .786 430 44 5 9 Now you can start to compare these two guys’ numbers head to head.  We’ve eliminated the swoon and we have also evened the number of games and plate appearances they each had in the process.  Once you do that, you start to see that Franklin is the player with more potential. Which one of these guys will play short? (Photo: J. Meric/Getty Images) That’s why people were talking Rookie of the Year at one point last year.  His batting average isn’t flashy, but he gets on base more regularly than Miller and he hits for more power than Miller.  That’s what you want from a guy who’s hitting near the top of your lineup. I’ve seen arguments for Miller because of his speed.  His speed has not shown up statistically here.  Both have the same number of stolen bases.  The same argument was made for Miller’s defense.  Again, the errors are pretty much a dead heat. Lineup Fit The other argument for Franklin over Miller is how he fits in the lineup.  Take a look at these potential lineup cards.  I’ve thrown in Nelson Cruz just to really prove my point. Lineup Name Bats Position 1. Ackley L CF 2. Franklin S SS 3. Cano L 2B 4. Smoak S 1B 5. Cruz R RF 6. Seager L 3B 7. Hart R DH 8. Morrison L LF 9. Zunino R C I will freely admit it.  I am in love with this lineup card.  It creates a balance between lefty vs. righty matchups that would drive any opposing pitching staff/coach absolutely bonkers. Look what happens if you don’t have Cruz or Miller in the lineup. Lineup Name Bats Position 1. Ackley L CF 2. Miller L SS 3. Cano L 2B 4. Smoak S 1B 5. Morrison L RF 6. Seager L 3B 7. Hart R DH 8. Saunders L LF 9. Zunino R C As soon as you swap the switch hitting Franklin out for the lefty Miller, regardless of where you put him in the lineup, you lose that balance.  The Mariners simply become too left handed at the plate.  A quality left-handed starter or reliever would wreak havoc on this lineup.  The balance would be even worse if Cruz did not come to Seattle to play. Building a lineup and subsequent batting order isn’t just about putting good hitters up there in order of how well they hit.  It’s about creating matchups and forcing moves by the other team. The lineup card I’ve shown you here with Franklin is pure hell for the other team because it forces an opposing manager to make a move in the bullpen that will only be effective for one batter.   Opposing teams will be forced to either make too many moves and have no one left in their bullpen at the end of the game or allow a good hitter to face a pitcher from the wrong side of the plate. Either way, it gives M’s hitters better opportunities at the dish. Ultimately, this decision will be made based on the performance of the two during the spring.  But even if you still believe Brad Miller is the better player, he doesn’t fit the team as well as Nick Franklin does right now. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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