Spring Training


Spring Training Cliches

Last year I attempted to chronicle all of the Spring Training Cliches published.  You know, best shape of my life, throwing a new pitch, attempting to steal more bags, got laser eye surgery.  Below, I've got a running list for '08.  Feel free to leave anything I missed in the comments and I'll add it.

Updated 3-5-08; latest additions in red

Change in weight:

Boof Bonser - lost 20 lbs.

Brian Bruney - lost "a lot of weight"

Joe Borowski - lost weight

Clay Buchholz - added 7 lbs. of muscle or 10 lbs.

Miguel Cabrera - lost roughly 20 lbs.

Todd Coffey - lost 25 lbs.

Coco Crisp - added 14 lbs.

Ryan Doumit - lost 15 lbs.

Zach Duke - lost 10 lbs.

Jeff Francoeur - added 17 lbs.

Sean Gallagher - lost 25 lbs.

Ryan Garko - lost significant weight

Ramon Hernandez - lost 10 lbs.

Ryan Howard - lost 10 lbs.

Ubaldo Jimenez - added 15 lbs. of muscle

Matt Kemp - lost 20 lbs.

Steve Kline - lost 40 lbs.

Nick Masset - lost 25 lbs.

Russell Martin - reduced body fat from 10% to 9%

Victor Martinez - lost weight

Paul McAnulty - lost 20 lbs.

Brandon McCarthy - added 15 lbs. to increase endurance

Yadier Molina - lost 10 to 15 lbs.

Brett Myers - lost 5 lbs.

Vicente Padilla - lost 6 lbs.

Ronny Paulino - lost 10 lbs., added muscle

Dustin Pedroia - added layer of muscle

J.J. Putz - lost 14 lbs.

Troy Tulowitzki - lost 10 lbs.

Carlos Zambrano - lost 7 lbs.

New exercise routine:

Carl Crawford - new workout regimen and diet

Jim Edmonds - SWAT team workout

Javy Lopez - "best shape of his life"

Brian McCann - added upper body muscle; started yoga

Kevin Millwood - took up martial arts

Brandon Phillips - "worked out harder"

Manny Ramirez - became a "maniacal workout warrior"

Mike Sweeney - "my health has never been better" due to Egoscue stretching method

Vision improvement:

Mark Hendrickson - Had laser eye surgery, correcting terrible vision in one eye and mediocre vision in the other

Jason Kendall - Laser eye surgery, feels like he's 18 again

Finally healthy:

Rocco Baldelli - Or so he says

Jesse Crain - No pain following May '07 shoulder surgery

Craig Hansen - Had sleep apnea corrected

Nick Johnson - No remaining physical limitations after '06 broken leg

Randy Johnson - Coming off back surgery, is "throwing bullets"

Francisco Liriano - No limitations about one year removed from Tommy John surgery

John Patterson - "I know I'm healthy" after September surgery on a nerve in his pitching arm

Rickie Weeks - First time in three years without rehab in offseason

Working on a new pitch:

Jeremy Affeldt - Trying to add a changeup

Jeremy Bonderman - Finally happy with changeup?

Matt Capps - May bring his changeup back

Manny Corpas - Adding a changeup

John Danks - Working on a cutter

Justin Germano - May add a cut fastball

Tim Hudson - Experimenting with slider

Jason Isringhausen - Working on a splitter

Tim Lincecum - Messing with a slider

Hideki Okajima - Secret new pitches

Roy Oswalt - May use his knuckleball

Micah Owings - Improved changeup

Josh Towers - Working on a splitter

Chris Young - Change-up work

Expected to run more:

Kosuke Fukudome - Projects 15-20 steals

Joey Gathright - Hopes to steal 30 or more

Josh Hamilton - Getting baserunning instincts back

Lastings Milledge - Green light if he steals at a 74% success rate or better

Jerry Owens - Shooting for 65 steals

Alfonso Soriano - Hopes to get back to 40 steals

Troy Tulowitzki - Will be asked to run more out of second spot

Giants - Hired Roberto Kelly, who will push players to steal.  Rowand predicted he could swipe 25

Miscellaneous:

Prince Fielder - Became a vegetarian 

Trevor Hoffman - May use a windup occasionally



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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