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Follow Up: Spring Training '08 Cliches (1 of 2)

Last season, Tim chronicled various reports out of Spring Training about players claiming to have lost weight, get eye surgery, flirt with Yoga, Ballet, etc. (a personal fav. feature of mine--if for nothing else than the entertainment value, alone).

Now that we have a full season's worth of performance-data, we can look back and see whether these claims amounted to anything.

1 of 2: Lost body fat percentage, lost weight, or added muscle:

Boof Bonser (SP-MIN)down
Lost 20 lbs.
Result: Posted the worst ERA of his career, and pitched 70 or so innings less than he did in 2007.

Brian Bruney (RP-NYY)down
Claim: Lost "a lot" of weight.
Result: Fantastic in April before missing most of the season due to a foot injury.

Joe Borowski (RP-Cle)down
Claim: Lost weight.
Result: Continued age related decline before being designated for assignment in July.

Clay Buchholz (SP-Bos)down
Claim: Gained 7-10 lbs. of muscle.
Result: Started the season in the Red Sox rotation before being sent back down to Pawtucket due to poor performance.

Miguel Cabrera (1B-Det)down
Lost 20 lbs.
Result: Had his worst season since his age 20 cup-of-coffee, and moved from 3B (where he's significantly more valuable) to 1B, due to horrendous defense.

Todd Coffey (RP-Mil)down
Claim: Lost 25 lbs.
Result: Sent down to Triple A and later DFA'd after posting the worst ERA of his career in Cincinnati. He did finish the season strong after being claimed off waivers by Milwaukee

Coco Crisp (CF-Bos)up
Gained 15 lbs. of muscle.
Result: Excelled in a platoon role with Jacoby Ellsbury; and saw his slugging percentage creep back above .400 for the first time in 3 seasons.

Ryan Doumit (C-Pit) up
Lost 15 lbs.
Result: Had a career year (.318/.357/.501) in 465 PA, and provided excellent value at the C position.

Zach Duke (SP-Pit)up
Lost 10 lbs.
Result: Had a better season than he did in '07, pitching in 185 innings, but still well below average with an ERA of 4.82.

Jeff Francoeur (OF-Atl)down
Claim: Added 17lbs of muscle.
Result: By far the worst season in his career, and saw his numbers plummet to below-replacement levels. Was sent to AAA for a short stint and later recalled; a move that made little if any difference.

Sean Gallagher (SP-Oak)down
Lost 25 lbs.
Result: Under achieved in his first full major league season, throwing in 115 innings, with a 5.15 ERA.

Ryan Garko (1B-Cle)down
Claim: Lost significant weight.
Result: Big drop off in production, from .289/.359/.483, to .273/.346/.404. But was luckier with 29 more RBI.

Ramon Hernandez (C-Bal) up
Lost 10 lbs.
Result: Saw the plate 100 more times in '08 than he did in '07, and increased his power by 6 HRs.

Ryan Howard (1B-Phi)up
Lost 10 lbs.
Result: Increased his counting stats: more R, HR, RBI, by taking the plate 52 more times in '08. This made him more valuable in fantasy baseball, but he declined in efficiency, dropping off in BA, OBP, and SLG.

* According to this THT study, more weight, specifically, usually translates to more power.

Ubaldo Jimenez (SP-Col)up
Claim: Added 15 lbs. of muscle.
Result: Had a career year, pitching in almost 200 innings, with a 3.83 ERA. He saw a drop in his HR/9 from 1.17 to .50, due to a substantial increase in his groundball rate: 46% in '07, to 54% in '08.

Matt Kemp (OF-LAD)up
Claim: Lost 20lbs
Result: Drop off in power from a .521 SLG% in '07, to .459 in '08. But also stole bases more efficiently, increasing his stolen base percentage from 67% in '07, to 76% in '08.

Russell Martin (C-LAD)down
Lost a full percentage of body fat.
Result: Hit for significantly less power, but was more efficient stealing bases. Contrary to all spring training reports--heading into 2008; he played in more games, and took the plate 30 more times.

Victor Martinez (C-Cle)down
Claim: Lost weight.
Result: Missed most of the season due to an injury in early June. Came back and found his stroke in September.

Brandon McCarthy (SP-Tx)down
Claim: Added 15 lbs. to increase endurance.
Result: Missed most of the 2008 season due to an elbow injury in spring training. Came back later in the year, and was shut down after a hand injury.

Yadier Molina (C-STL)up
Claim: Lost 10-15 lbs.
Result: Took almost 100 more PAs in '08 from '07, and saw a general increase in production.

Brett Myers (SP-Phi)up
Claim: Lost 5 lbs.
Result: Saw a drop off in his peripherals (higher walk-rate, and lower K-rate), and a slightly worse ERA. He was able to make the transition to SP throwing in 190 innings, though.

Vincente Padilla (SP-Tx)up
Claim: Lost 6 lbs.
Result: Pitched in 50 more innings, and reverted back into a serviceable major league starting pitcher. Still insignificant in most fantasy leagues.

Ronny Paulino (C-Pit)down
Claim: Lost 10 lbs. of fat, and added muscle.
Result: Played regularly for the first two months of the season, then sent down to Indianapolis due to poor performance. He was later recalled in Sept. but still struggled mightily.

Dustin Pedroia (2B-Bos)up
Claim: "Added a layer of muscle"
Result: 2008 AL MVP.

J.J. Putz (RP-Sea)down
Claim: Lost 14 lbs.
Result: Suffered through an injury riddled season, and saw a dramatic drop off--by most measures--from his elite 2007 performance.

Troy Tulowitzki (SS-Col)down
Claim: Lost 10 lbs.
Result: Another injury victim. Batted .152 in April, before missing May and most of June. Struggled for most of the season, but showed flashes of why he earned the largest contract for a player with less than 2 years of service time, by batting .330 in September.

Carlos Zambrano (SP-Chi)down
Claim: Lost 7 lbs.
Result: Pitched in less than 200 innings for the first time since his rookie year. Saw a reduction in his K rate for the second straight year, but also improved upon his walk-rate. I have a feeling the Tribune is already regretting his extension.

Before I started writing this, I assumed there would be little if any correlation between spring training reports, and increased level of performance. Most players chronicled here, actually did worse.

Tomorrow (part 2 of 2) we'll take a look at other types of spring training cliches, including: Discovering New Pitches, New Workout Regiment, New Diet, and other miscellaneous claims.

Do you put any stock into these spring training cliches?

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