You went to high school with a guy named Brad Miller. It's such an incredibly generic name, you might have forgotten about it, but you did. He got straight-Cs and dated that one girl. After graduation, he became a salesman of some kind and eventually disintegrated into a strong gust of wind.
The Mariners' Brad Miller did not. He's one of the most promising shortstops in baseball, but he might have streamed through your periphery in a blur because of the flavorlessness of his name.
Xander Bogaerts. Jurickson Profar. Those names stand out. They almost jump up and down on the screen. They're awesome. It's not that Brad Miller isn't awesome, but it definitely doesn't sound like a character from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
So, is it really as simple as his name? Well, no. But you have to think its plainness is a factor.
Another factor may have been the Craig Counsell comparison he earned in college. It probably seemed like a great complement at the time, but as his career continued to progress, he might have been pigeon-holed as a utility-type player. And again, his name doesn't exactly awaken the imagination. The comparison to Counsell was largely superficial. Miller used a similar, albeit far less exaggerated, batting stance at Clemson. Both of them were smallish, left-handed hitting middle infielders, and because human beings are essentially very simple creatures, they're both white.
That kind of racially based parallelism seems to happen a lot when the baseball world attempts to familiarize itself with a new player from Japan or Cuba.
No. Masahiro Tanaka is not like Yu Darvish. Nobody's like Yu Darvish.
The comparisons typically aren't delivered maliciously. Maybe it just takes a little more creativity to come up with a non-racial likening. Or maybe there's some kind of deep-seated prejudice in the industry there. I dunno. When the Dodgers signed Alexander Guerrero this winter, there was a headline that read: "Guerrero is not like Yasiel Puig". Why would you expect him to be like Yasiel Puig?
Anyway, the Counsell comparison doesn't fit Brad Miller's game. He's more like Ian Desmond than he is Counsell. Counsell's career isolated power came to rest at .089 after 16 seasons in the majors. Miller, who debuted at age 23 last year, put up an ISO of .154 in 76 games for the Mariners, and flirted with .200 over parts of three seasons in the minors. In other words, he has "pop" or "sock" or whatever onomatopoeic word people are currently using to describe power.
Miller might not consistently hit 20 homers a year like Desmond has recently due to the sweeping spread of SAFECO, but he's far from being a granular slap-scrapper like Counsell or his predecessor at short in Seattle -- Brendan Ryan. Miller can't boast the same kind of pandimensional range that Ryan brought to the team, but he's passable bordering on good -- like Desmond.
Seattle hasn't committed to Miller as their starting shortstop for 2014 yet. Fellow prospect Nick Franklin is still being considered as well ... publicly anyway. But that might be due to their perceived "urgency" to move one of their infielders. The team clearly prefers Miller at short (he had 62 starts there to Franklin's two), and with Robinson Cano tied around their necks for the next decade, they don't really have a place to put the loser of this spring's battle. On the other hand, if they don't at least pretend to have plans for Franklin, it'll be difficult to maximize his trade value -- which might even be loftier than Miller's in some cases based on popularity alone.
Sure, billboard fodder like Bogaerts and Profar will probably be great players over the next few seasons, but Brad Miller looks like he can hang right there with them. And if he can translate his minor league success to the majors, he could end up being one of the better shortstops in the American League.
Then you probably won't have any trouble remembering him.