Panic! At Bright House Field
After a disappointing 70-pitch performance that spanned two and two-thirds innings Wednesday at Bright House Field, Phillies ace Roy Halladay lumbered to the clubhouse with a 10.57 spring ERA. He allowed seven hits, including two home runs — his fourth and fifth in two weeks — to the Minnesota Twins, creating some tension with Opening Day on the horizon.
By now, you’ve heard the warnings: disregard spring training stats, no matter how enticing. Still, it is hard for some to refrain from drawing conclusions from very small, biased samples. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, in an article titled “What’s up with Halladay?“:
Halladay, the Phillies’ ace right-hander, has not missed time this spring. But two scouts following the Phillies expressed concern Wednesday about the pitcher’s lack of velocity and sharpness in Grapefruit League play.
One scout said Halladay topped out at 89 mph Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, threw from a lower arm angle and lacked bite on his changeup and sinker. Another said that Halladay does not resemble the same pitcher who comes out “like gangbusters” every spring.
Earlier, I did some digging and found Halladay’s spring stats as a Phillie:
Overall, Halladay has a 3.42 ERA with an 8.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in spring as a Phillie. That’s about what you’d expect from him, especially coming off of a four-month break. He has only come out “like gangbusters” once, but as the saying goes, “never let facts get in the way of a good story.”
Halladay didn’t have the feel for his change-up.
“I told Chooch, ‘Keep calling it as much as you can,’” Halladay said. “See if we can figure out how it feels when it’s off. We have some ideas and things I can play with in my next bullpen.”
Spring stats don’t have any correlation to regular season performance. I found no correlation in a very hastily-done study two years ago and there have yet to be any more rigorous studies showing a stronger connection.
Fans and writers must learn to shrug at these numbers. There is no reason to panic about Halladay.