Hall of Famer Prefers Stu Miller over Mariano Rivera


In our day and age it isn’t a mystery that Mariano Rivera is widely regarded as the best closer who has ever played the game. However, not everyone shares that notion.

Last week Hall of Fame player Jim Palmer named noneother than Stu Miller (Stu who?) as the pitcher, he’d prefer if he were in a tight situation. “Out of all the guys I’ve had a chance to see over my career as a reliever — and that’s no disrespect to the Mariano [Riveras] and [Jeff] Reardons and [Dennis Eckersleys] — if you loaded the bases up with nobody out, I’d take Stu Miller because the chance of hitting the ball out of the infield off him were minimal. He was just one of a kind,” said Palmer.

Stu Miller was a starting pitcher during the 50’s and 60’s. He played for 16 years for the Phillies, Cardinals, Orioles and Braves. He was notorious for his batting practice fastball. His biggest asset was his ability to make batters believe that his pitches were going faster than they really where. His velocity was so slow, that a catcher once commented that he could catch Miller’s fastball with a pair of pliers.

Personally, I never saw Miller play and I definitely don’t doubt his ability. If a hall of fame player says he’s good, I believe him. Yet, I refuse to belief that Miller was better than Mariano based solely someone’s word.

However, Jim Palmer is not your run of the mill Hall of Famer. He was a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles for 19 years. During that time he earned 3 Cy Young Awards and 4 Gold Gloves. He also amassed 268 victories in his career. In other words, the man knows his stuff.

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However, in life as well as baseball the proof is in the pudding. During Palmer’s advocacy for Miller, he mentioned that the chances of hitting the ball out of the infield with Miller pitching were minimal.

That may well be the case, however, a batter had a better shot of getting a hit with Miller pitching than Mariano. A hit is a hit, regardless of where it lands (outfield or infield). During his career, Miller had an H per 9 of 8.1 compared to Mariano’s 7.0. That means that during his career. Mariano allowed at least 2 hits less per 9 innings of play than Miller. Mariano also boasted a lifetime ERA of 2.21 against Millers 3.24.

Also, throughout his career Mariano didn’t have the advantages Miller enjoyed such as no DH and a higher pitcher’s mound. That means that for the most part, every time a pitcher came to bat, Miller could enjoy a break in the lineup.

Furthermore a higher mound gave Miller an advantage. That’s why after 1969 MLB opted to lower it to 10 inches, Miller played from 1954 through 1968. In other words, it’s tougher for a pitcher nowadays to get an out, than before 1969.

Now, let’s be honest, by all accounts, Miller was a decent pitcher. However, the numbers have spoken. He was no Mariano.