There is arguably nothing more useless than spring training stats. It is a collection of small sample sizes accumulated by players working their way into shape playing against other players working their way into shape and/or low-level minor leaguers. We all know that, yet we can’t help but fixate on spring stats because YAY NUMBERS!
Fine, so we’re stuck with these numbers and trying to infer meaningful things into them. Let’s at least try and do it responsibly though and make a realistic assessment of which very impressive or very unimpressive spring stat lines are worth celebrating/worrying over.
Hank Conger – 44 PA, .122 AVG, .163 OBP, .122 SLG, 0 XBH
So… that’s not good. Like, at all. A few things to keep in mind though are that Conger has only whiffed six times, so it isn’t as if he is having a hard time making contact. He also has gotten a fair number of plate appearances from the right side of the plate this spring, something which he was rarely allowed to do last season. While their might be some cause for some very, very mild concern deem this FICTION!
Chris Iannetta – 41 PA, .345 AVG, .512 OBP, .793 SLG
It’s gotta be the contacts. Right? Right? R- r- r-ight? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? OK, whatever, his vision is slightly better. That isn’t going to hurt, but it wasn’t like he was blind before. We’ve seen Iannetta and his streakiness before. This is just another one of his hot streaks, not a sign that Iannetta is going to break out this season. Sorry, it is FICTION!
Erick Aybar – 51 PA, 15.7 BB%, .420 OBP
Aybar has been making a point of trying to draw more walks. Thus far it is working. The question is will it translate to the regular season? We’ve seen Aybar try this before and it turned into a terminal case of Aybaritis with Erick taking pitches for the sake of taking pitches and having one of his worst offensive season. I’ll go with that season-long sample over this tiny spring sample so this one is also FICTION!
Mike Trout – 54 PA, .408 AVG, .463 OBP, .837 SLG, 5 HR, 2 murdered baseballs
This is a great stat line. Mike Trout is a great player. He is a great player that played great. Great! FACT!
J.B. Shuck – 49 PA, 5 3B, .522 SLG, .239 ISO
Five triples in 49 plate appearances is not a thing that happens in real baseball. Nor is Shuck having a .239 ISO, unless you are adding up his ISO from the last three seasons. FICTION!
Collin Cowgill – 48 PA, .286 AVG, .354 OBP, .548 SLG
That’s a nice line and all, but Cowgill has never been much of a hitter and his Opponent Quality is rating at 8.2 which is the third-lowest mark of anyone still in camp. FICTION!
Matt Long – 48 PA, .422 AVG, .458 OBP, .689 SLG
This is clearly FICTION! But still, #FreeMattLong
Albert Pujols – 53 PA, .326 AVG, .396 OBP, .542 SLG, 1 HR
Everyone has predicted that Pujols would bounce back this year, so this line is an encouraging sign of that being true. However, what is more telling is that Pujols has been moving very well in the field and when he runs the bases it no longer looks like he is running barefoot on a basepath covered in broken glass. So, indirectly I’m calling this a FACT!
Raul Ibanez – 51 PA, .200 AVG, .255 OBP, .289 SLG
The most important stat not listed is Ibanez’s age: 41. That lends an element of concern to this stat line for sure. However, Ibanez is also one of those guys that tends to start slow in his career, so combine that with his age and this stat line gets all the context it needs to not be too concerned about. FICTION!
Tyler Skaggs – 20.0 IP, 4.95 ERA, 26 H, 10 BB, 13 K
Hmm, it looks like Skaggs is giving up lots of hits, lots of walks and struggling to finish batters off. It is almost like he is a young pitcher with command issues or something. Sadly, I have to declare this one a FACT!
Hector Santiago – 16.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 11 H, 6 BB, 19 K
Those are some ace-like numbers. What a steal! Or not. Santiago might be good, but he isn’t good enough to keep limiting batters to a .186 batting average. FICTION!
Anything a reliever did
Eight or nine innings of spring work means absolutely nothing to anyone.