With real spring training games starting next Friday, March 4th, the excitement is very much real. The anticipation for the start of live games is alive and well. As a fantasy baseball player and writer the question arose. How much stock should we put into the numbers put together in spring training? Every year it seems like there is a no name hitter that jacks 10 bombs during the spring. The player is then made a national story by the artificial sports news outlets. Then without a hitch, the player is assigned to AA where he hits .178 and is never heard from again. You rarely see this phenomenon with pitchers due to their limited number of innings, but a pitcher who strikes out 5 in 2 innings always seems to have a rise in draft stock.
Problems with Spring Training Numbers?
I’ll start with how the competition isn’t equal through out the league. For example if Matt Joyce hits .330 over the spring it’s going to raise some fantasy eyebrows. But what does that .330 average really mean when 3/4 of his hits are off AA pitchers? Or if Hector Olivera hits 2 bombs off Mad-Bum it’s going to make SportsCenter and have everyone drafting him way too early. The reason I am not excited by the 2 round-trippers is because they probably came off a new pitch Bumgarner is working on that’ll he’ll never throw after March.
Also good spring training numbers don’t mean a lot because how how small the sample size is. If a player gets 3 at-bats a game, (which isn’t likely) he still wouldn’t even have 100 ABs. That is roughly 1/6th of the ABs he will receive during the league year.
On the other side, poor spring training numbers tell us even less in my opinion. Slumps happen every year to every player. It just happens slumps are blown out of proportion twice a year, in March and in October. Once again, sample sizes come into play there. If Mike Trout only manages 3 HRs during the spring, I’d bet he still has a pretty decent year.
Moral of the Story
What I am trying to say here is, only one thing really matters during the spring. That is change. If a hitter comes in with a new stance, new weight, new approach, new strikeout pitch, or a new delivery that is something you might need to look into. Change in a players game is way more meaningful than some numbers.
Baseball is Back
— MLB (@MLB) February 28, 2016
The bottom line is don’t put too much stock into the spring. But, the most important thing to do is enjoy the game. Baseball is finally back. It’s the best time of the year for members of the Baseball Fam community. So don’t drop Bryce Harper to your undraftables because of a poor spring and don’t take Will Ferrell #1 overall just because he had a 0.00 ERA. In the end stick with your gut and be thankful that the game we all love is finally back.