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

Yesterday we looked at players who were reported to have lost weight, gained muscle weight, or lost pure body fat percentage in '08 Spring Training. Now we'll take a look at some of the left over cliches from last spring, and see if there was any connection between these reports, and an increased level of performance last season.

2 of 2: Vision improvement, new exercise routine, finally healthy, working on a new pitch, expected to run more:

NEW WORKOUT

Carl Crawford (LF-TB) down
Claim: New workout regiment and diet.
Result: Took the plate 145 less times, stole 25 less bags, and his stolen base attempt percentage (SBA%), also reduced from 37% in '07 to just 26% in '08.

Jim Edmonds (CF-CHC)  =
Claim: S.W.A.T. Team workout
Result: Was released by the Padres in May after batting a horrible .178/.265/.233 in 103 PA, but found his stroke after being signed by the Cubs: .267/.369/.568 in 298 PA.

Brian McCann (C-ATL)up
Claim: Added upper body muscle; started yoga.
Result: Rebounded in 2008 from a down year in 2007: took the plate a career-record amount of times: 573. Provided fantastic value at Catcher.

Kevin Millwood (SP-TEX) =
Claim: Took up Martial Arts
Result: Matched his 2007 season, pitching in 168 innings, with a 5.07 ERA.

Brandon Phillips (2B-CIN) down
Claim: Worked out harder.
Result: Proved 2007 was the exception, and not the rule. Reverted back to 2006 performance levels.

Manny Ramirez (LF-LAD) up
Claim: Became a "maniacal workout warrior"
Result: Had his best season in 3 years, batting .330/.430/.601, with 37 HR.

Mike Sweeney (DH-OAK) down
Claim: Healthier than ever due to "Egoscue stretching method"
Result: Platoon role at 1B & DH--through May, before suffering injuries to both of his knees and missing the rest of the season.

VISION IMPROVEMENT

Mark Hendrickson (SP-Bal) down
Claim: Laser eye surgery; corrected terrible vision in one eye
Result: Saw his peripherals drop across the board: lower K-rate, matched with a higher BB-rate. ERA suffered from 5.21 in '07 to 5.45 in '08.

Jason Kendall (C-MIL) down
Claim: Laser eye surgery, and feels like he's 18 again
Result: Continued rapid decline, batting just .246/.327/.324. Did steal an efficient 8 bases--improving upon his 5 SB in '07.

FINALLY HEALTHY

Rocco Baldelli (OF-TB) down
Claim: Finally healthy.
Result: Played in just 28 regular season games; down from 35 in '07, and 92 in '06.

Jesse Crain (RP-MIN) up
Claim: No pain following May '07 shoulder surgery.
Result: Pitched a full season's worth of quality innings in '08 after missing most of '07.

Craig Hansen (RP-PIT) down
Claim: Had sleep apnea corrected.
Result: Between the Red Sox and then the Pirates (after acquired in the trade for Jason Bay), he pitched 45 innings with a 6.22 ERA and 1.79 WHIP. His days as a "Future Closer" are numbered.

Nick Johnson (1B-WAS) down
Claim:
No more physical limitations since recovering from '06 broken leg.
Result: Played in just 109 games: the injury-saga continues.

Randy Johnson (SP-ARI) up
Claim: "Throwing bullets" since recovering from back surgery.
Result: Lost 1.5 MPH on his average fastball-velocity: 90.8 MPH in '08, down from 92.3 MPH in '07. But still had a successful season: 184 IP, with 3.91 ERA.

Francisco Liriano (SP-MIN) up
Claim: No limitations after being one year removed from TJ surgery.
Result: Spent most of the year at AAA; progressively got better over the course of the season. Dominated after being recalled in August: 82 K in just 65 IP

John Patterson (SP-TEX) down
Claim: "I know I'm healthy" after Sept. surgery.
Result: Suffered through another injury riddled season, pitching in only 31 innings with a 7.47 ERA.

Rickie Weeks (2B-MIL) up
Claim: First time in 3 years w/o rehab in offseason
Result: Took 560 PA; up from 506 the season before. His .234/.342/.398 line, was down from '07, but right in line with his career.

NEW PITCH

* Without Fangraphs' this portion wouldn't have been possible.
* Arrows are non-applicable in this section.

Jeremy Affeldt (RP-SF)
Claim: Working on Change-up
Result: Threw his Change on 6.1% of his pitches, up from 1.2% in '07.

Matt Capps (RP-PIT)
Claim: May bring his Change-up back.
Result: Threw his Change 6.6% up from 4.1% in '07.

Manny Corpas (RP-COL)
Claim: Adding a Change-up.
Result: Threw a change .5% up from .2% in '07.

John Danks (SP-CWS)
Claim: Working on a Cutter.
Result: Threw a cutter on 16.4% of his pitches, up from 0% in '07. His Cutter was used 3rd most out of his 5 pitch repertoire (pretty interesting stuff). It's also worth noting: he materialized into a major league starting pitcher in '08: 195 IP with a 3.32 ERA.

Justin Germano (SP-SD)
Claim: Adding a Cutter.
Result: Didn't throw the cutter once during the regular season.

Jason Isringhausen (RP-STL)
Claim:
Working on Splitter.
Result: His Splitter never saw the light of day.

Tim Lincecum (SP-SF)
Claim: Messing with a Slider.
Result: He threw the Slider for the first time in a regular season game last year, or in 1.7% of his pitches thrown.

Hideki Okajima (RP-Bos)
Claim: Introducing secret new pitches.
Result: In 0.7% of his pitches he threw a "unknown-pitch" down from 1.1% in '07. He also tried the split-finger fastball for the first time, but that didn't last long, it was only responsible for 0.1% of his total pitches thrown.

Roy Oswalt (SP-HOU)
Claim: May use Knuckleball.
Result: Never used the Knuckleball.

Micah Owings (SP-ARI) 
Claim:
Improved Change-up.
Result: Threw his Change-up 9.4%, down from 10.6% a season prior.

Chris Young (SP-SD)
Claim: Working on Change-up.
Result: Threw Change-up on 5% of his pitches (identical to '07), but, was able to get his Change-up velocity to drop to 78.6 MPH, down from 80 MPH in '07.

WILL RUN MORE

Note: SBA% is Stolen Base Attempt Percentage. It tells us how many times a player attempted to steal a base per the amount of times he reached 1B safely.

Kosuke Fukudome (OF-CHC) =
Claim: Projects 15-20 SB
Result: Stole 12 bags on just 16 attempts. Good for a 75% success rate. Could be a threat for 15+ SB in '09 if he can improve upon his under whelming .257/.359/.379 line in '08.

Joey Gathright (CF-KC)up
Claim: Hopes to steal 30+ bags
Result: Swiped 21 bags in 25 tries good for an 84% success rate. Would've easily surpassed 30 if given more Plate Appearances.

Josh Hamilton (CF-TEX)up
Claim: Getting base-running instincts back.
Result: Was successful in 9 of 10 tries, up from 3/6 in '07 (seems like a candidate for double-digit steals in '09).
  
Lastings Milledge (CF-WAS) down
Claim: Green light if he steals at a 74% success rate
Result: Stole 24 bags in 33 attempts, for a 72% success rate.

Jerry Owens (OF-CWS)down
Claim:
Goal of 65 steals
Result: Crowded White Sox outfield kept Owens in AAA for most of the year.

Alfonso Soriano (LF-CHC)down
Claim: Hopes to get back to 40 SB.
Result: Stole an efficient 19 bases in 22 tries. SBA% declined from 20% in 07, to 19% in '08.

Troy Tulowitzki (SS-COL)down
Claim:
Will run more batting in 2 hole.
Result: Successful only once in 5 tries--batting out of the 2 hole. SBA% also declined from 12% to just 7%

San Francisco Giants down
Claim:
Hired Roberto Kelly; will push players to steal more; Aaron Rowand predicts to steal 25 bags.
Result: The Giants stole 11 less bases in '08 from '07, and Rowand was successful only twice in 6 tries.

CLOSING

One of my favorite parts of this article was the "NEW PITCH" section. It seems like players who were reported to have been working on a new pitch in spring training, actually tried to use the pitch during the season. John Danks was quite successful with the Cutter, and it may be the reason why he found a new level of productivity last year.


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