Are these spring studs for real?

Making sense of stellar performances by make-or-break players

Updated: March 17, 2013, 3:37 PM ET
By Zachary Levine | ESPN Insider
Aaron HicksKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsA 2008 first-round pick, Aaron Hicks finally looks ready for the majors.

Sometimes when it's your guy, it can be so hard not to believe.

You know spring training performance doesn't matter, but just look at the guy -- he's killing everything. Never mind that he's never faced major league pitching when they were keeping real standings or maybe he's a guy who has been replacement level at best.

The best spring training hitters this year have included established All-Stars like Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Zimmerman, wait-a-while prospects like Christian Yelich and Jackie Bradley Jr., and the occasional fun reclamation projects like Kyle Blanks, whom the Padres tendered a contract this year after three disappointing seasons and an ugly medical history.

The most interesting, though, are the ones in the middle -- those whose careers could still go either way or who are trying to force their way onto rosters. You can't look much into these numbers, but you can look at the players on the top of the spring leaderboards and see what other indicators there might be that these springs are for real or not.

Whose springs look like flukes, and whose come with a real reason to believe? Let's look at a half dozen of the most divisive.


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Aaron Hicks | Minnesota Twins, CF
Spring stats: .342/.350/.737, 4 HR, 9 K in 40 PA (all stats through Thursday)

Zachary Levine

Baseball Prospectus