It is a shame there is no PitchF/X data for spring games as that data might actually enable us to see a change of approach at the plate for hitters and could actually prove useful in predicting performance in the upcoming season.
It’s interesting to see Porcello on that leaderboard given that his lack of strikeouts is why I’ve always avoided him. One thing I wonder about is how the WBC affects these results, as pitchers not involved with it will presumably be facing even weaker lineups than normal.
I don’t think I buy that, I remember back in 2000, the newly remade Mariners showed up in spring training and Edgar Martinez and John Olerud both started spring by taking absurd numbers of pitches to “re-learn” the strike zone. I used to try to do something similar though I never really played in games that you could safely say didn’t count in order to be safe in doing it. Some batters do drastically different things when they’re attempting to get comfortable than they normally do. If you know you’ve got a job locked up for the season, why not essentially watch pitches for a game or two, get used to seeing the ball without worrying about chasing anything, instead of chasing that curveball in the dirt, learn what it looked like, prevent yourself from developing bad habits early when it doesn’t matter. Rookies and minor leaguers (and some old guys) obviously don’t have that luxury, they’re trying to impress the big league squad and make the team, but if your job is locked up I could see taking an abnormal approach at the plate in an effort to get comfortable before the season starts.
My theory is that Spring stats only matter for guys without a job — its not a matter of the stats, its a matter if the guy is motivated to care about his stats.
For example, Clayton Kershaw just won the Cy Young, he doesn’t care about his Spring stats, neither does Don Mattingly or Ned Colleti, etc….no matter what he’s the Doyers opening day starter. He’s just trying to get stretched out and work on a few things.
Michael Wacha on the other hand cares very much about his Spring numbers; he’s got a month-long audition for Matheny and Mozeliak to show he can pitch to MLB quality hitters, in hopes of a shot at the 5th spot in the STL rotation or at least first shot at mid-season call-up.
From that perspective, I’m excited by what I’ve seen from Wacha, Teheran, Gyorko, Arenado and Gerrit Cole, and on the flip side disappointed by Randall Delgado, Kolten Wong, and Bruce Rondon. For guys like these, a big spring forces their way on the big club and shows they have it in them to compete, a bad spring means a trip back to the minors. I’d be willing to wager any three from the good list have more WAR value than the three on the bad list by the end of the season.
Comment by MLB Rainmaker — March 6, 2013 @ 2:50 pm
Avoiding him because of strikeout rates isn’t a very neighborly thing to do — you could at least say hi once in a while, or stop pretending not to be home when he comes by to borrow a cup of sugar…
While I think your explanation could be valid in many cases, I don’t agree that the conclusion follows. The amount of instructional time (with the MLB coaching staff) is an important part of spring training, so a prospect that has difficulty spotting curveballs, or hitting to all fields, or cleaning up delivery from the stretch, etc may be asked to work on and display that particular skill. In that case, ability to make adjustments / be coached would seem to be what the bosses are looking for, rather than a straight stat line.