He’s not quite in Ryan Howard territory, but Brad Miller is closer than you think in terms of September dominance for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Well, at least in one category.
Miller launched two home runs in Monday’s Labor Day victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. The slugger has three hits in his first 11 at-bats in September, as the Phillies attempt to avoid their fourth consecutive late-season collapse.
In 2019, even the bamboo that Miller brought with him wasn’t enough to stop a late-season swoon, as the Phillies went 12-16 in the final days of Gabe Kapler’s tenure as manager.
Miller, though, was hardly to blame as the Phillies limped to the finish line during his first stint in Philadelphia. In September of 2019, Miller slashed .327/.339/.800 with eight home runs, 11 RBIs and a 1.139 OPS. He had three multi-home runs games in September of 2019.
When you add in yesterday’s game, Miller now has four multi-home run games in two Septembers in the Phillies organization. Howard — who had 77 career home runs in regular season games played in September or October, the most of any month — had five career multi-home run games in parts of 12 Septembers with the Phillies (he missed September of 2013).
Against Brewers lefty Eric Lauer, Miller isn’t in the Phillies lineup Tuesday, though he’ll have the rest of the month to match or even top Howard in terms of two-home run games in September. Considering Howard had one of the most dominant power peaks in the last 25 years, Miller even being in this discussion is pretty insane.
After September, Miller’s future is uncertain. Shortly after he turns 32 in mid-October, Miller will once again become a free agent. The last time that Miller had a tremendous finish to the season for the Phillies, he ultimately left town for a chance to receive more consistent at-bats with the St. Louis Cardinals.
What Miller’s future holds this time around probably depends on whether the DH becomes universal in 2022 or not, with the rule likely to be debated during negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. If there are 30 DH spots in 2022, Miller would seem to have a good chance to occupy one of those at least on a semi-regular basis.
That said, it’s unclear if that would be in Philly. For as respected as Miller is in the Phillies clubhouse, any of Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm or Didi Gregorius could theoretically get extended at-bats at DH next year. The Phillies liked having the chance to spell Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto at DH last year, especially when either are at less than 100%. The bottom line is that the DH coming to the National League permanently would hardly assure that Miller returns to the Phillies in 2022.
But before things become uncertain again, we know this much: the man who has played like “Mr. September” in a Phillies uniform will have a chance to help the franchise return to the postseason for the first time in a decade. Perhaps he’ll even pull even with a franchise icon in one category in the process.
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