Spring Training


Spring Training SLG Leaders

Just to preserve it for the year, let's look at the Spring Training slugging percentage leaders of 2009.  Which of these guys will go on to have massive breakout years, if any?  Minimum 30 ABs.

  • Todd Helton - .950
  • Jesus Guzman - .922
  • Scott Rolen - .889
  • Mark Teahen - .883
  • Milton Bradley - .800
  • Matt Brown - .787
  • John Buck - .778
  • Endy Chavez - .771
  • Ray Sadler - .762
  • J.J. Hardy - .761
  • Ryan Howard - .760
  • Corey Hart - .757
  • Mark DeRosa - .750
  • Nelson Cruz - .745
  • Erick Aybar - .741
  • Jason Lane - .736
  • Torii Hunter - .735
  • Curtis Granderson - .732
  • Nick Markakis - .729
  • Josh Hamilton - .728
  • Nomar Garciaparra - .727
  • Chris Shelton - .720
  • Jeff Mathis - .717
  • Ryan Spilborghs - .712
  • Justin Morneau - .711
  • Craig Monroe - .704
  • Taylor Teagarden - .700
  • Russell Martin - .698
  • Travis Snider - .698
  • Jayson Werth - .696
  • Brad Emaus - .694
  • Robb Quinlan - .694
  • Pablo Sandoval - .691
  • Yuniesky Betancourt - .683
  • Kendry Morales - .682
  • Mike Wilson - .681
  • Mike Rivera - .676
  • Robinson Cano - .667
  • Alex Cintron - .667
  • Austin Jackson - .667
  • Gerardo Parra - .667
  • Chris Carter - .658
  • Shelley Duncan - .657
  • Jed Lowrie - .657
  • Alex Gordon - .653



Spring Training Cliches

It's time for another edition of Spring Training Cliches here at RotoAuthority.  Here's a look at last year's list.  Readers are always a big help in compiling these links, so leave 'em in the comments or email me at rotoauthority@gmail.com.

Updated 3-9-09.  Latest additions in red.

Change in weight

New fitness program

Improved vision

Finally healthy

Working on new pitch

Planning to attempt more stolen bases

Other statistical predictions by players

Miscellaneous



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

Yesterday we looked at players who reported to have lost weight, gained muscle weight, or lost pure body fat percentage. 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.

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)
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 signed by the Cubs: .267/.369/.568 in 298 PA.

Brian McCann (C-ATL)
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)
Claim: Worked out harder.
Result: Proved 2007 was the exception, and not the rule. Reverted back to 2006 performance levels.

Manny Ramirez (LF-LAD)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Claim: Finally healthy.
Result: Played in just 28 regular season games; down from 35 in '07, and 92 in '06.

Jesse Crain (RP-MIN)
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)
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)
Claim:
No more physical limitations since recovering from '06 broken leg.
Result: Played in just 38 games: the injury saga continues.

Randy Johnson (SP-ARI)
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)
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)
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)
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.

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)
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)
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)
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)
Claim:
Goal of 65 steals
Result: Crowded White Sox outfield kept Owens in AAA for most of the year.

Alfonso Soriano (LF-CHC)
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)
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.



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.



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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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
Claim:
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?



Dewan's Spring Breakouts

We've done many posts on this topic.  Today, the man himself, John Dewan, lists players whose spring SLG exceeds their career mark by .200 or more (hat tip to Rob Neyer).  We'll have to look back on this list after the season.



More On Spring Training Stats

John Dewan came up with this piece of info a few years back:

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.

John was kind enough to reply to my email asking for clarification on his statement.  He told me he'd use a sample size of 35 ABs or more and that "better than normal" relates to SLG primarily.

Given that info, here are the players who currently qualify for improvement based on their '08 spring stats:

  • Andre Ethier (.680 against .464 career)
  • Carlos Guillen (.708 against .450 career)
  • Brian Anderson (.638 against .353 career)
  • Jorge Cantu (.739 against .450 career)
  • Placido Polanco (.674 against .416 career)
  • Curtis Granderson (.791 against .493 career)
  • Chris Burke (.763 against .377 career)
  • Mike Morse (.816 against .399 career)
  • Ivan Rodriguez (.921 against .479 career)
  • Ron Belliard (.784 against .412 career)
  • Yunel Escobar (.722 against .451 career)
  • Josh Hamilton (.972 against .554 career)
  • Melvin Mora (.694 against .438 career)
  • Craig Counsell (.686 against .347 career)

Do you think any of these guys will top their career SLG?



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).



When Spring Training Stats Matter

I always go back to this nugget from John Dewan from the 2006 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.

Let's focus on players with at least 30 ABs for now.

  • White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson is at .714 this spring vs. a career mark of .353.  He's fighting for an extra outfielder role right now, but could be traded into a better situation.
  • Carlos Guillen is slugging .771 against a career mark of .450.  Perhaps he will become more of a traditional first baseman and nail 30 home runs?  This is his last year for shortstop eligibility.
  • Nick Swisher is slugging .824 vs. a .464 career mark.  Could he return to 35 HR or even reach 40 given his new park?
  • Washington's Cristian Guzman sits at .636 vs. a .378 career mark.  A return to his 10 HR days, plus 10 swipes?  NL-only sleeper?
  • Jorge Cantu's slugging .688 against a .450 career mark.  25 HR as Florida's third baseman?  Dallas McPherson is out of the running for now.
  • Billy Butler is at .677 after his rookie year SLG of .447.  Will he jump to the 25-30 HR range in his age 22 season while also hitting .300?
  • Rafael Furcal is slugging .633 vs. his .407 career mark.  Maybe that ankle is all better and he tops his career high of 15 HR in a contract year.  Great shortstop pick if you miss out on the Big Three.



Verducci On "Best Shape Of My Life"

SI.com's Tom Verducci has a funny column outlining ten spring training lies we always hear (he calls them lies, I call them cliches).  As you know, I've been keeping a running list of guys who lost weight, plan to run more, are tinkering with a new pitch, etc. 




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