The Annual Look at Spring Training Numbers

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Rays, Spring Training, Tape Measure Blasts

One of the interesting things about spring training is the old statement that spring numbers do not matter. We are told to not use spring statistics as a measure of success in the regular season. I can partially buy into that statement. But, why is it that position battles are won or lost based on how each of the players perform in spring game action against lesser talent.

Sometimes the players who are competing are not locked in a competition that is an entirely equal playing field . For example, one player may be facing David Price in game action and does not get his hits off of him. Where as, another batter may face the guy who is a minor league pitcher and takes him deep. How can you compare performance between the two.

Additionally, with spring there is a small sample size. Thus, the correction factor that a batter makes over the course of the season does not come into play much in the spring. So, the guy who is hot right from the start may not be the best suited player for the position over the long season. In other words, the team who has a player who makes adjustemnts to get out of a cold streak might be better overall than the player who temporarily is experiencing success.

The astute General Manager will base his player evaluation only partially on spring data. They must also factor in if a player is dealing with an injury, or if the player is experimenting with something new that he would rarely try in regular season.

One study to take a  look at is the the work of baseball statistician John Dewan  who found that batters who post significantly better slugging percentages in spring training than their career slugging percentages perform better offensively in the upcoming regular season.

Nevertheless, do we make conclusions based on what we have seen from Andy Sonnanstine so far? What about spring numbers Sean Rodriguez put up last year?

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