Owen Miller has shot at seizing first base job for Cleveland Guardians
First base is an area of uncertainty for the Guardians when figuring out what the long-term picture looks like for 2022. Owen Miller could be playing himself into an everyday role there early in the campaign.
The opening series against Kansas City has seen the Cleveland Guardians either struggle to score runs, or collect them in large quantities. The first two games featured the lineup looking as anemic as many fans feared coming into 2022, while the third and fourth games saw it explode at the plate and punish Royals pitching. Some spots around the diamond have also seen variance, with lineup changes day-to-day showing a couple different looks for the Guardians. With the roster still in a state of flux as the team settles in for the long haul, there are still some jobs open for the taking in the event someone steps out of the crowd.
With two starts in four games under his belt, Owen Miller is putting himself squarely in the conversation to take over the everyday first base job, showcasing his chops on the defensive side of the ball while flashing the bat skills he was touted for when acquired by Cleveland from the San Diego Padres.
Miller had a torrid start to the 2021 campaign for the Columbus Clippers, turning it into a call-up in May of last year for his MLB debut. As is the case with many players in their first taste of action, Miller struggled to get going, flipping his success with Columbus into struggles with Cleveland. As the year went on, the young infielder saw his stock begin to drop, especially when considering the glut of upcoming talent that would be needing places to play in the future.
Jump to Arizona, and the Guardians’ 2022 spring training. Miller came to camp stronger, more confident, and with major-league experience under his belt. In spring exhibition play, he slashed .333/.369/.636 while looking much more composed at the plate.
Now a four-game series into the regular season, Miller has continued to mash at the plate. He’s collected six hits (three doubles) in 11 at-bats, and helped to fuel both Guardian victories (with a little help from some guy named Steven Kwan). He’s contributed meaningful offense, and helped revitalize a lineup that was mostly impotent in the first two games of the season.
When looking at the other options for Cleveland at first, Miller positively stands out in comparison. Bobby Bradley has only struck out once (in his whopping four at-bats), but he’s failed to come through in key moments early on. There’s still plenty of time for him to come around, but he’s definitely a step behind Miller at the moment. Yu Chang is the other option at first, and he’s regressed from his spring training form, struggling mightily in the early goings.
In contrast, Miller has looked competent, composed, and has used the entire field when he’s at the plate. He also provides serviceable defense, giving the Guardians a well-rounded option to potentially take over first base in an everyday role.
If Cleveland is serious about staying competitive and fielding the best lineup possible on a regular basis, Miller is making his case to be penciled in each day. As the team travels to Cincinnati for a two-game series, it will be worth paying attention to who slots in at first base for the Cleveland Guardians.