Veteran left-handed reliever Andrew Miller has decided to retire from Major League Baseball after 16 seasons, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The 36-year-old Miller, who spent the last three seasons with the Cardinals and was a free agent his offseason, sent the following text to Goold:
"The list of people who took me aside, put their arm around me, made me laugh when I needed to, or taught me something is endless," Miller wrote in a text message. "It's safe to say I would have been faced with the next chapter much earlier on if it weren't for them. As someone who thought their career was practically over in 2010, to be able to experience everything I did along the way is incredible. You shouldn't ever hear complaints from me. It was a heck of a run."
As Miller indicates, he faced an early crossroads just a few years after being drafted No. 6 overall out of UNC-Chapel Hill by the Tigers. Part of the 2007 blockbuster trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit, Miller had largely failed as a starting pitcher in the majors. Midway through the 2011 season with Boston, however, Miller began a gradual transition to full-time relief. It was a transition that would see him become one of the most dominant bullpen arms of his era.
Despite his left handedness and heavy reliance on a slider, Miller proved adept at taming the opposite side, and his stamina and durability allowed him to become a throwback specialist capable of working multiple high-leverage innings at a time. This skill of Miller's made him exceptionally valuable in postseason runs with the Orioles, Yankees, Guardians, and Cardinals. In all, Miller wound up working 38 2/3 playoff innings across 29 appearances. Over that span he struck out 54 batters against just 11 unintentional walks with a 0.93 ERA and no unearned runs allowed. With Cleveland in 2016, he was named ALCS MVP.
While Miller's career regular-season numbers don't impress at first blush, they look much better once you focus on his career as a reliever. In 547 lifetime relief appearances during the regular season, Miller pitched to a 2.95 ERA with 724 strikeouts in 504 innings. Along the way, he picked up just 63 saves, which speaks to Miller's willingness to work as a "fireman" as opposed to a saves-hoarding closer. During Miller's peak in this role -- i.e., 2014-17 -- he registered a 1.72 ERA and 6.28 K/BB ratio in 260 appearances. In the latter two years of that stretch, he made All-Star appearances.
More recently, Miller found himself in the baseball news cycle for his willingness to be a vocal and visible union representative during the recent owner-implemented lockout. As Miller's retirement now proves, he filled that role in the service of improving the lot of younger players as opposed to further enriching himself.