March 2007

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Spring Training Stats

We can all agree that Spring Training statistics are useless.  Right?  Well, not exactly.  Here's a gem from John Dewan via Baseball Forecaster:

A hitter with a positive difference between his spring training slugging percentage and his lifetime slugging percentage of .200 or more correlates to a better than normal season.

How did this hold up in 2006?  I identified 24 players who slugged .200 or more points above their career average in Spring Training of 2006.

14 of the 24 (58%) posted a SLG in the '06 regular season above their career average.   Here they are:

Player ST SLG Career SLG Diff 2006 SLG
Dave Ross 0.833 0.406 0.427 0.579
Michael Cuddyer 0.844 0.428 0.416 0.504
Jose Reyes 0.781 0.395 0.386 0.487
Eric Hinske 0.810 0.430 0.380 0.487
Gregg Zaun 0.750 0.375 0.375 0.462
Adrian Gonzalez 0.750 0.401 0.349 0.500
Edwin Encarnacion 0.771 0.436 0.335 0.473
Jim Thome 0.895 0.562 0.333 0.598
Aramis Ramirez 0.810 0.481 0.329 0.561
Raul Ibanez 0.787 0.460 0.327 0.516
Orlando Hudson 0.727 0.417 0.310 0.454
David Dellucci 0.720 0.438 0.282 0.530
Corey Koskie 0.729 0.455 0.274 0.490
Vernon Wells 0.700 0.481 0.219 0.542

That's a compelling sample of 2006 breakout players.  On the other hand, here are the ten for which the correlation did not hold up:

Player ST SLG Career SLG Diff 2006 SLG
Kevin Mench 0.917 0.484 0.433 0.419
Ron Belliard 0.793 0.412 0.381 0.403
Ken Griffey Jr. 0.864 0.561 0.303 0.486
Steve Finley 0.740 0.447 0.293 0.394
Richie Sexson 0.822 0.530 0.292 0.504
Garret Anderson 0.762 0.473 0.289 0.433
Brad Wilkerson 0.733 0.452 0.281 0.422
Jason Bay 0.824 0.553 0.271 0.532
J.D. Drew 0.762 0.514 0.248 0.498
Adam Dunn 0.750 0.518 0.232 0.490

A lot of these guys were hurt, old, or clearly entrenched in their decline phase.  Mench fizzled after an amazing week in April, while Wilkerson succumbed to a shoulder injury.  Dunn and Belliard also started off relatively strong.

The second chart didn't scare me off.  I am definitely going to be running these numbers at the end of Spring Training this year and using them as another data point.




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