Eric Milton’s new contract with the Reds has been one of the more derided signings of the winter, with the focus on his home run allowed rates being amplified playing in Great American Ballpark.
I’m probably one of the few that isn’t that concerned about it; he came from a home run home ball park last year; but reality shows that his ERA was two runs higher on the road.
Milton also has a “reverse” platoon advantage…that is, he pitches better against right handers than left handed hitters; and GAB was designed with the left handed hitter and pitcher in mind; in other words, one of the Reds’ stated strategies was to find southpaws for pitching, forcing the competition to bat right handed, and to get left handed hitters to try to take advantage of favorable park conditions.
Also, in it’s first two years, despite being a home run park, GAB has actually played as pitcher’s park, decreasing scoring by 10-15% compared to other ballparks with hitters hitting for lower batting averages in the park.
Milton’s approach reminds me of Tom Browning….a few home runs are fun, as long as hits and walks are kept to a minimum. Also, he’s a workhorse, and it’s been a while since we had someone we could count on for 200 innings. Baseball Prospectus has just run an article (premium section) on how few pitchers actually do this anymore (less than two per team). It’s an important asset.
I feel his price was driven up by the market…it’s my understanding 10 teams were after him, and the Reds had the disadvantage of not being a current “destination location” (not ready to win, not willing to spend to win, a couple of years away), so some pitchers probably chose to not look this way.
I don’t know if Dan O”Brien was thinking the way I’m mentioning here, but he may be a real sleeper candidate for a really good year.