FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. Yeah right. Next you’ll tell me that players who claim to be in the best shape of their lives won’t necessarily have huge seasons.

    Comment by White Blood Cells — February 11, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  2. I remember being so pumped about Jake Fox leading the league in spring training home runs in 2011 for the Orioles (I think it was 10). He was such a bad player though, I just really missed baseball at that point.

    Comment by Greg S — February 11, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  3. All good points but people need something to satisfy their number inclined baseball obsession. Spring training comes after months of nothingness and provides numbers similar to the MLB regular season. Who can resist that?

    Comment by Anon — February 11, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  4. And a corollary to this is that despite what teams say, competition is not wide open in spring training. For players that have roster invites, the team already has a good idea of what the player is and how the player might fit in. Where there is competition, the team is looking for demonstration of specific skills with regard to what they are looking for from that player for him to make the team. How sharp is his curve? Has his changeup progressed during winter workouts? Did he take the hitch out of his swing? How are his reads on flyballs?

    For the player who really didn’t have a chance coming in to camp, the most he can hope for is to increase his stock and maybe get assigned to a higher level than he would have otherwise. But for the most part, the message,rightly is, “Great Spring, kid. Show us that you can keep that up during the regular season you’ll be in line for a promotion, maybe as early as mid-seaoson.”

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — February 11, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  5. The only stats that really count: plate appearances and innings pitched. If there is some guy that the team is taking a long look at in the spring, you’ll notice it in mid-to-late March

    Comment by mdecav — February 11, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

  6. The only things I pay attention to are strikeouts for hitters and BB:K for pitchers. Those don’t necessarily translate either, but I do get concerned if a batter is missing a lot of pitches or if a starter is walking a ton of guys.

    Comment by jdbolick — February 11, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

  7. can this be headlined throughout the entire month please?

    Comment by jim — February 11, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  8. Melky Cabrera showed up at ST in 2011 itbsohl (aided or otherwise) and proceeded to hit .468/.471/.742. In 2012 his ST stats were .343/.370/.629. Both better by far than he’d ever done in ST.

    Looking at the first year, I read an amateur study that spring that said spring stats by a certain order of magnitude above career numbers do presage a breakout more often than not. Have to see if I can go dig that up.

    Comment by wobatus — February 11, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

  9. I’ve *heard* that Spring Training power stats are not utterly, completely useless.

    In ST 2010, Jose Bautista hit .439/.448/.895 with 5 HR in 57 AB.

    And I have no more examples.

    Comment by Baron Samedi — February 11, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

  10. No doubt all the reasons outlined for not relying on the small and corrupted samples (i.e,, poor competition, ballparks, etc.) of spring training are valid. However, what can’t be ignored is that every year some players are on the bubble for winning starting jobs or roster spots, and for them spring training can be make/break. For example, last year Eric Thames won the competition for LF job in Toronto on basis of his impressive spring training. Granted, he lost said job after two months, but ST opened the door for him. Some like Lance Lynn, however, won jobs and kept them.
    We have to acknowledge that, irrespective of their unreliability, small samples can end up mattering a great deal for the futures of some actual and “might have been” big leaguers. 50 AB’s, whether in spring training or regular season, often determine whether a player starts in the majors, is sent down or even waived.

    Comment by rma111 — February 11, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

  11. I think ST stats can be useful in a negative light. A really awful ST may suggest an injury. Not always though.

    For the most part, most stars get most of their playing time at H in ST when the other team sends their B team. So I pay no attention to good results.

    Comment by pft — February 11, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

  12. “Would you ever attempt to reach conclusions based on two or three weeks of performance?”

    I’m not saying they are successful, but fantasy baseball players do this all the time during all portions of the regular season. It’s not just a spring training phenomenon.

    Comment by Detroit Michael — February 11, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  13. Really Jeff? You’re telling me that you aren’t even kind of interested in spring training park factors? I don’t buy it.

    Comment by Dave — February 12, 2013 @ 9:25 am

  14. In the 2012 ST, Fernando Rodney had 4 strikeouts and 5 walks in 7.1 IP. He then proceeded to strikeout 76 and walk only 15 through 74.2 IP in his record-setting 0.60 ERA season.

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — February 12, 2013 @ 10:31 am

  15. Then how do you explain Liriano and Parker as mentioned in the article?

    Seems to me that the best thing to do is just ignore the numbers and listen for signs of improvement in areas that can actually translate to production — not “he put on/lost 15 pounds” or “he’s working on adding a changeup to his repertoire” — or red flags like shoulder/elbow soreness in pitchers.

    Comment by Jay29 — February 12, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

  16. Yes, this is true, but it shouldn’t be. In 2011, Vogelsong was such a player for the Giants. He had a great spring and has pitched well for the Giants for two years. So everybody remembers that.
    The year (or possibly two years) before some has-been pitcher had an even better Spring for the Giants, had a few disastrous stars and left the team by mutual agreement. Nobody remembers that.
    The latter example is far more common than the former, but there will be a large number of spring phenoms who make the Opening Day roster of some teams and most will fail. It’s as certain as spring following winter.

    Comment by Baltar — February 12, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  17. *starts*

    Comment by Baltar — February 12, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

  18. Rodney also walked 4 batters in 5 2/3 innings (6 K’s) from August 18 – September 1 2012. Closer to his spring training numbers than overall 2012. Sample size!

    Comment by North Sider — February 12, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  19. That was a sweet cherry you picked.

    Comment by Baltar — February 12, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

  20. Why thanks… I think spring training is a great sporting event, and very underrated. I go to Arizona the second half of March and there is some darn good baseball that time of year. Most passive-type baseball fans put so much emphasis on March – May, then tend to withdraw throughout the summer. Those types of fans are sprinters during a marathon.

    Comment by North Sider — February 12, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  21. Eric Hosmer had two monster springs in a row, but mostly from pitchers who didn’t exploit the hole in his swing.

    Comment by KCDaveInLA — February 12, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  22. No model is perfect

    Comment by adohaj — February 12, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

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