Monday, March 4, 2013

What are spring training stats worth?

Nothing. That's just the true and simple answer. Most people don't pay any attention to spring training numbers unless a player just has gaudy stats and someone wants to make a mention of them, like Reds prospect Henry Rodriguez who is currently hitting .571 (8-14) with a .600 OBP as of Monday morning. For one thing, the sample size you get during spring training just isn't big enough to make any real predictions. Mainly, you just want all your players to get to Opening Day with their health.

Still, it's hard not to look at the stats and wonder if they really mean anything for the upcoming season. It's just human nature to want to measure your favorite players' performances and since a lot of fans can't see the games, the only way to do so is to check out their statistics.

Let's see how this year's projected Reds lineup and pitching staff did in spring training (ST) of 2012 versus the regular season (RS). I'm just going to do some simpleton math to analyze some of these numbers to see if they are in proportion at all. I'll make mention of anything noteworthy.

Shin-Soo Choo (w/ Cleveland)
ST: 22 g, .271/.384/.441, 2 hr, 5 rbi
RS: 155 g, .283/.373/.441, 16 hr, 67 rbi

I was not expecting this on the very first player, but with Choo's numbers you can see they are very nearly in proportion. His slash line is almost identical, and from his spring stats if you go strictly by number of games, he would have been projected to hit about 14 homers and collect 35 RBI. Obviously that RBI number is skewed a bit, but those numbers are pretty close.

Brandon Phillips
ST: 21 g, .293/.339/.448, 1 hr, 4 rbi
RS: 147 g, .281/.321/.429, 18 hr, 77 rbi

Joey Votto
ST: 20 g, .264/.350/.321, 0 hr, 4 rbi
RS: 111 g, .337/.474/.567, 14 hr, 56 rbi

We know Joey Votto got hurt during the regular season, but as you can see his regular season numbers were way better than they were in the spring. He didn't hit for average or power during spring training. His OBP was .350, but that's terrible in Votto terms as you can see it was an extraordinary .474 during the season.

Ryan Ludwick
ST: 22 g, .283/.316/.453, 2 hr, 10 rbi
RS: 125 g, .275/.346/.531, 26 hr, 80 rbi

Remember this?

Jay Bruce
ST: 21 g, .345/.390/.509, 1 hr, 10 rbi
RS: 155 g, .252/.327/.514, 34 hr, 99 rbi

Bruce's numbers kind of reversed from the spring to the regular season. He traded a higher BA and OBP for bigger power numbers. If he could have somehow put the spring slash line with the regular season power last year, he would have reached superstar status.

Todd Frazier
ST: 27 g, .291/.339/.691, 5 hr, 15 rbi
RS: 128 g, .273/.331/.498, 19 hr, 67 rbi

Here's another case where the numbers are almost in proportion, though the BA and SLG show a deviation. If you multiply (separately) Frazier's number of homers and RBI times the number of regular games and divide that by the number of spring training games in which he played, you would get a simple projection of 23 homers and 71 RBI. That's pretty dang close.

Zack Cozart
ST: 23 g, .345/.377/.534, 0 hr, 6 rbi
RS: 138 g, .246/.288/.399, 15 hr, 35 rbi

Ryan Hanigan
ST: 21 g, .227/.292/.250 0 hr, 2 rbi
RS: .274/.365/.338 2 hr, 24 rbi

Johnny Cueto
ST: 5 gs, 20.0 ip, 1-3, 4.95 era, 9 k
RS: 33 gs, 217.0 ip, 19-9, 2.78 era, 170 k

Obviously, Cueto's spring numbers in 2012 were an aberration. He turned everything completely around and was as dominant as we would have expected him to be.

Mat Latos
ST: 6 gs, 24.1 ip, 2-1, 3.70 era, 15 k
RS: 33 gs, 209.1 ip, 14-4, 3.48 era, 185 k

Homer Bailey
ST: 5 gs, 14.2 ip, 1-2, 7.98 era, 6 k
RS: 33 gs, 208.0 ip, 13-10, 3.68 era, 168 k

After a terrible spring, Bailey put together a career year, putting a halt to the fan's frustrations and throwing a no-hitter to cap off the season.

Bronson Arroyo
ST: 6 gs, 25.1 ip, 1-2, 4.97 era, 14 k
RS: 32 gs, 202.0 ip, 12-10, 3.74 era, 129 k

Aroldis Chapman
ST: 4 gs, 17.0 ip, 2-0, 2.12 era, 18 k
RS: 0 gs, 71.2 ip, 5-5, 1.51 era, 38 sv, 122 k

Chapman put together four good starts during the spring, and appeared in one other game, as he was ready to enter the rotation. Then all those relievers went on the DL, and it was up to him to fill in the void in the bullpen. He put up historic numbers regardless of the switch. He struck out almost as many batters in 71.2 innings as Arroyo did in 202 innings. Will he get to start in 2013?

Mike Leake
ST: 4 gs, 14.0 ip, 0-0, 5.14 era, 6 k
RS: 30 gs, 179.0 ip, 8-9, 4.58 era, 116 k

There were a whole plethora of relief pitchers who threw a ball for the Reds last year and there's no telling who will occupy the Opening Day bullpen in 2013 other than Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton. You can look here if you want to compare their 2012 spring training and regular season stats or see how they are doing this year so far.

So, by looking at that, do you still think spring training stats are worthless? I know I do. Well, they're at least worth the time that I took to put this post together, right? Maybe not.

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