Almonte LF. Rating = 5 to 6 (on a 1-10 scale)
The first AB against Brett Anderson, Dr. D fell out of his chair. The same LH Almonte who'd sat on his back leg and swatted at pitches, Boggs-style ... that guy, in the other batter's box, absolutely pulled a Me-Myself-and-Irene on us. now hitting RH, loaded up, looked for a zone, and fired the bat through the zone like Lloyd McClendon just told Almonte he didn't love him any more.
It wasn't just hacking away mindlessly. Almonte controlled the zone, read the pitch, turned on fastballs, held up for breaking pitches, and smoked loud foul balls down the 3B line.
He had no trouble at all catching up to Anderson's heater -- was too far in front, in fact. First AB, Anderson came in with a hot jam fastball ... Almonte cleared the front knee, got the bat in front Jose Lopez style, and blistered a double past the left fielder. Slap me silly and call me shirrrly. It was like watching Willie Bloomquist hit lefty and go upper tank.
True, his second and third AB's, those big swings resulted in "blonks," a grounder to 1B and a can of corn to RF. This was pitch recognition. Don't forget that Almonte is a raw rookie, about 1,600 AB's behind Justin Smoak.
Against Bruce Chen, he bounced a lucky one into CF to lead off -- he will do that sometimes -- and then in the second inning, waited on a poofball and smoked a liner right at the second baseman.
He added an infield hit -- he will do that sometimes, which is why he seems assured of hitting .260+ even if he can't hit -- and then dropped in yet another 3-bouncer. A kludgy, Tony Gwynn-looking 2-for-4.
It's not quite clear to me why (post-alkie) Almonte doesn't have better splits RH (other than the infield hits he gets LH). He certainly looks a lot better right handed. Anyway ... I like him RH on Brett Anderson a whale of a lot better than I like Michael Saunders against Brett Anderson.
Miller SS. Rating = a volatile 6 to 7
When Anderson made the unhittable pitches against Miller, the result was --- > a big Miller swing and miss. When Anderson messed up just this much, Miller detonated the pitches.
For instance, first AB against Anderson, IIRC, there was a high-tight jam pitch followed by a perfect sweeping slider that struck Miller out. So sue him; how many times a year does Prince Fielder strike out?
But second AB, it was a pretty tough pitch there too, and Miller smoked a hot-shot ground ball that flew by the first baseman for a double. Coulda been a 3 unassisted out, but 40% of the time that ball's a hit.
He also wound up with a ground ball double play, but a second double ... Two Doubles Against Brett Anderson.
Against Chen ... a hard double the other way. A skyrocket double to RF over the outfielder's head that put a hole in the fence. A sharp grounder that got through for a 3-hit day.
Get to the pernt, Dr. D!
The pernt is, Miller concedes absolutely nothing against left hand pitching; he lets the bat fly as though he were going up against the BP coach. You get the impression that, in 2014, Miller is going to hit lefties for a .250 average, a .300 OBP and a .500 SLG.
Prince Fielder lifetime, to give you a sense of proportion, is .267/.347/.467 against lefties. Prince cuts down his swing against lefties. Brad Miller does not.
And so against LHP's, Miller looks ready to give us a Nelson Cruz type outcome, as weird as that sounds. (That's assuming that Miller hasn't become some sort of George Brett overnight, ready to rake lefties for a .300 average with power.) Let's track it and see if that turns out to be the case, that Miller runs a big ISO when up against LH's.
Almonte and Miller aren't exactly Manny Ramirez vs lefties. But remember, these are (1) collateral players who (2) weren't here for last year's 91 losses.