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When Spring Training Stats Matter Part 2

I've been obsessed lately with this John Dewan nugget:

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.

To properly study this in regards to last year's Spring Training stats, I need some more info.  Specifically, what does "better than normal" mean?  Better SLG in the season compared to the guy's career SLG?  Better SLG this season than last?  Something else?  I shot Mr. Dewan an email in hopes of getting clarification.  I'd also like to know what sample size he considers appropriate.

That said, I still ate up a bunch of time running numbers with '07 Spring Training stats.  I found 34 non-rookies whose '07 spring SLG topped their career mark through '06 by .200 or more.  I defined an improvement as an '07 SLG better than the player's '06 SLG.  I used '07 vs. career if the player didn't play in the bigs or had a tiny sample for '06.  In red, I highlighted the 11 whose regular season improvement I truly feel may be linked to their Spring Training performance.  I used a 20+ AB spring sample.

NAME ST SLG Career Diff 06 SLG 07 SLG Improve?
Eduardo Perez 0.955 0.431 0.524 0.452 DNP No
Scott Hairston 0.935 0.430 0.505 0.533 0.452 Yes
Pete Laforest 0.730 0.241 0.489 DNP 0.389 Yes
Ronny Paulino 0.833 0.395 0.438 0.394 0.389 No
Aramis Ramirez 0.851 0.493 0.358 0.561 0.549 No
Jeff Salazar 0.750 0.415 0.335 0.415 0.394 No
Khalil Greene 0.763 0.434 0.329 0.427 0.468 Yes
Reed Johnson 0.750 0.423 0.327 0.477 0.320 No
Greg Dobbs 0.672 0.351 0.321 0.556 0.451 Yes
Derrek Lee 0.809 0.500 0.309 0.474 0.513 Yes
Chone Figgins 0.697 0.393 0.304 0.376 0.432 Yes
Ryan Spilborghs 0.735 0.433 0.302 0.431 0.485 Yes
Gerald Laird 0.703 0.401 0.302 0.473 0.349 No
Brandon Phillips 0.676 0.375 0.301 0.427 0.485 Yes
Ramon Castro 0.686 0.387 0.299 0.389 0.556 Yes
John Mabry 0.706 0.407 0.299 0.324 0.235 No
Carlos Quentin 0.821 0.530 0.291 0.530 0.349 No
Raul Ibanez 0.750 0.469 0.281 0.516 0.480 No
Sammy Sosa 0.816 0.537 0.279 0.376 0.468 Yes
Josh Phelps 0.737 0.473 0.264 DNP 0.503 Yes
Barry Bonds 0.867 0.608 0.259 0.545 0.565 Yes
Brad Hawpe 0.722 0.464 0.258 0.515 0.539 Yes
Johnny Estrada 0.661 0.407 0.254 0.444 0.403 No
Jose Guillen 0.691 0.445 0.246 0.398 0.460 Yes
Bobby Abreu 0.750 0.507 0.243 0.462 0.445 No
Brian Schneider 0.629 0.386 0.243 0.329 0.336 Yes
Adrian Beltre 0.683 0.457 0.226 0.465 0.482 Yes
Adrian Gonzalez 0.700 0.475 0.225 0.500 0.502 Yes
Brad Eldred 0.682 0.458 0.224 DNP 0.261 No
Jose Cruz 0.653 0.431 0.222 0.381 0.375 No
Chase Utley 0.727 0.509 0.218 0.527 0.566 Yes
Milton Bradley 0.643 0.429 0.214 0.447 0.545 Yes
Ian Kinsler 0.667 0.454 0.213 0.454 0.441 No
Ross Gload 0.643 0.437 0.206 0.462 0.441 No

  • 11 semi-breakouts among 34 - is that helpful?  Tough to say, but if you're on the fence on a guy and he tops his ST SLG by .200 then maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • Plenty of the "no improvement" guys had extenuating circumstances - Reed Johnson had back surgery, Laird was catching full-time for the first time, Quentin was hurting.
  • Seems like this stuff matters less for veterans (Abreu, Ramirez, Ibanez), but then again young guys naturally improve regardless of spring training.  Hard to sort it out.
  • Several rookies had big springs.  Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun, Billy Butler, and Mark Reynolds were among last year's ST SLG leaders.  They all went on to have solid rookie campaigns.  There may be something to that (though Cameron Maybin slugged .905 in spring and nothing came of it).



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