Beck Diefenbach-US PRESSWIRE
One of the more obscure pitchers among the Top 100, Jake Miller pitched for the Indians from the end of the Tris Speaker era to the beginning of the Earl Averill era.
Walter Jacob Miller
Height: 6'2" Weight: 170 lbs
Throws: Left Bats: Left
How Acquired: Purchased(?), 1924: (Terre Haute Tots - Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League)
Left Via: Sold(?), 1931: (Indianapolis Indians - American Association)
Jake Miller was born in Wagram, OH, which is just outside the Columbus city limits. As he was basically a Columbus native, it is no surprise that he attended the Ohio State University. He graduated with a civil engineering degree.
Information about his younger years is fairly sparse, but his first documented activity as a baseball player was the four games he played with the Terre Haute Tots of the Three-I League (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa, Class B) in 1922 at age 24.
In 1923, he split time with three teams, the aforementioned Tots, the Hamilton Tigers of the Michigan-Ontario League (B), and a single appearance with the Rochester Tribe of the International League (AA). Over the 30 appearances that season he was 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA in 179 innings.
He returned to the Terre Haute Tots for the 1924 season, and again had a very good year, 16-8 in 31 appearances, a 16-8 record and a 2.71 ERA in 226 innings. At some point, the Indians worked out a deal with the Tots and Jake made his debut against the Browns in St. Louis in the September 11 nightcap, pitching 3 innings and giving up seven hits, three walks and four runs. His second start against the Red Sox on September 21 went much better, a 2-0 complete game loss with only six hits and two walks.
The 1924 Indians rotation was led by Joe Shaute and Sherry Smith, but Stan Coveleski and George Uhle had off years. In fact, Jake was one of seventeen players to make starts that year. Based on that late season promise, Miller made the team in 1925 but he didn't pitch until May because of an injury. He made four relief appearances before joining the rotation in June, eventually replacing Shaute. He led the team in wins, 13, and his 3.31 ERA (134 ERA+) and 4.1 WAR both led the rotation.
Jake was effective again in 1926, but missed significant time again. He only had 11 starts and 18 total appearances. In 1927, he again led the staff in ERA, 3.21 (131 ERA+) and was second in WAR, 4.4, but again only made 23 starts and 34 total appearances. In 1929, Miller had his least injured season, starting 29 games, throwing 14 complete games and a career high 206 innings pitched. His 14 wins led the staff and his 3.58 ERA was good enough for a 123 ERA+. But at the age of 31, this would be his final good season.
Injuries finally caught up to Miller in 1930 as he struggled to his worst season in Cleveland, making 24 appearances, 9 starts and an ugly 7.13 ERA. Jake improved a bit in 1931, dropping his ERA to 4.35, but only made 10 appearances and 5 starts before landing with the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association in late June.
Miller stuck close to home in 1932, signing with the Columbus Red Birds of the American Association, a Cardinals affiliate at the time. He made 11 appearances with them before the Cardinals traded him with Joel Hunt to the White Sox for Hal Anderson. Miller, true to form would be injured again and didn't pitch with the White Sox until 1933, where he made 14 starts and a total of 26 ineffective appearances before retiring.
Miller returned to his offseason career as a civil engineer. After graduating from Ohio State, Miller had worked for the city of Columbus, but when his career finished, he ended up working at the Interpack Company of New Jersey. He eventually retired to Florida, passing away at 75 in Venice, Florida. His brother Russ Miller, also a Buckeye graduate made 35 appearances with the Phillies in 1927 and 1928.
Miller currently stands at 25th in career WAR with 15.0, 43rd in wins with 55, 39th in innings pitched and 31st in ERA+ (111).
Baseball Between the Wars: Memories of the Game By the Men Who Played It
SABR Biographical Research Committee May/June 2006 Report
Indians Career Stats
|CLE (8 yrs)||3.92||174||125||27||54||6||3||964.0||1130||507||420||31||293||275||111||10.5||0.3||2.7||2.6||0.94|