Sunday, February 28, 2016

Baseball Is Back, But Meaningful Stats Aren't

With Spring Training games right around the corner, I wanted to take this time to remind everyone not to get too worked up over Spring Training statistics.

"Baseball's back, baby!"

While most Yankees fans were disappointed with the season Chase Headley had in 2015, those that put any stock in Spring Training statistics were likely out-of-their-minds infuriated by the end of the season. That's because Chase finished the season batting a lowly .259, but in 21 Spring Training games that year he hit .305.

Speaking of Headley, he was actually tied with the team lead during the 2015 Spring Training with three home runs. One of the guys he was tied with is of no surprise... Alex Rodriguez. However, what if I told you that the two other players that also hit three homers during Spring Training 2015 were Stephen Drew and Chris Young?

One more bit of information regarding the Yankees' 2015 Spring Training...

Esmil Rogers pitched 15.1 innings and had a 2.35 ERA. But during the regular season his ERA was a bit higher. Okay, it was a lot higher... 6.27.

To really drive home the point that Spring Training statistics are a small step above "useless", I'm going to show you three non-Yankees who had great springs but poor regular seasons.

Taijuan Walker P SEA
2015 Spring Training: 6 GS, 25 IP, 3-0, 0.36 ERA
2015 Regular Season: 29 GS, 169.2 IP, 11-8, 4.56 ERA

2015 Spring Training: 74 PA, .426/.446/.779
2015 Regular Season: 404 PA, .262/.300/.439

Mike Zunino C SEA
2015 Spring Training: 51 AB, 7 HR, 1 HR/7.3 AB, .353/.431/.882 
2015 Regular Season: 350 AB, 11 HR, 1 HR/31.8 AB, .174/.230/.300

"Did he really have to show two players from the Mariners?"

Yes, it's great to watch baseball again, however we have to keep in mind that Spring Training games are nothing more than glorified practices. Pitchers are working on new mechanics and/or new pitches, hitters are working on tweaks to their swings. Guys like Rob Refsnyder and Starlin Castro are going to be taking reps at third base, a position pretty much unknown to them.

Even managers will dial things back a bit. For instance, instead of calling for a hit and run in some situations, they're going to let things go so players can just take regular at bats.

So enjoy watching the games (I know I will). If you're lucky enough to go to some of those games I'll be extremely jealous of you. But whether Dustin Ackley hits .400 (career .244 hitter), Alex Rodriguez fails to hit a single home run (he led the Yankees will 33 last season), or Luis Severino gets rocked (led Yankee starters with an ERA of 2.89 last season), remember that what you're seeing then is probably not what you'll see later.

"But it's baseball!"

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)