Commentary

Playing With Numbers: Knowing which spring stats to examine

Updated: April 1, 2008, 4:06 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com
What rounds did Micah Hoffpauir and Reggie Abercrombie fall to in your leagues? What about Brooks Conrad, Mike Morse and Charlton Jimerson? No takers for them either? The fact remains that spring training statistics mean very little when evaluating players for the upcoming season. Sure, when a player like Morse has a standout performance, he can earn himself a roster spot, but until we see evidence that he actually has shoehorned his way into a right-field platoon with the Mariners, his fantasy value isn't exactly rocketing him to the neighborhood of, say, even a Felix Pie type.

Why is this? Well, there's an inherent problem with spring stats. Pitchers, especially those who have job security, treat the spring schedule as the exhibitions they truly are, using their appearances to simply build up arm strength for the long regular season ahead and work on pitches. Erik Bedard isn't concerned about his 8.63 spring ERA and you shouldn't be either, just as you shouldn't get overly excited about John Maine's 1.53 spring ERA. After all, last year Kip Wells had a spring ERA of 1.06, while Jake Peavy managed a 4.05 ERA. Need I remind you which one of those guys ended up winning 19 and which one lost 17?

So if the games and results matter so little for most of the top-line pitchers, how can we assign any value to the stats accrued by the hitters who face them? Shouldn't we, as most people believe, forget about spring hitting stats entirely? Well, while I agree we need to be careful in our analysis, I'm not quite willing to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. After all, if managers are making decisions on who deserves to be in the big leagues based on these performances, I'm willing to give them at least a smidgen of weight. However, I do reserve the right to look at only certain categories.


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