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.”

Rosenthal notes that GM Ruben Amaro is not concerned and neither is Halladay. Matt Gelb reports that Halladay was specifically working on his change-up, choosing not to pay any mind to the results.

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.

In 2010, Kyle Kendrick had a 1.46 ERA in spring training. Cole Hamels had a 6.00 ERA. Greg Dobbs had a .311 batting average. Carlos Ruiz hit .182.

In 2011, Joe Blanton had a 3.19 ERA in spring training. Cole Hamels had a 6.67 ERA. Ben Francisco had a .361 batting average. Carlos Ruiz hit .182.

Fans and writers must learn to shrug at these numbers. There is no reason to panic about Halladay.

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  1. Scotch Man

    March 14, 2012 07:30 PM

    I’ve learned never to waste any good single malts on stressing Spring Training exhibition. As Halladay himself said, he wanted to throw more change-ups and did just that. Those who have the luxury of already being on the roster can work on such things. I’m not worried at all about Doc.

  2. KC

    March 14, 2012 08:01 PM

    Do the 2011 numbers include the minor league game he pitched in last spring? He didn’t fare too well vs. the Pirates minor leaguers if I recall. (Which, luckily for us, was not a signal of the end of his career.)

  3. HBP

    March 14, 2012 08:09 PM

    I wish we had Charlie Morton!

  4. Gourbot3000

    March 14, 2012 08:23 PM

    The only slight concerns I would have are his lower arm angle and velocity if those are true

  5. LTG

    March 15, 2012 12:29 AM

    The fewer reminders of corporate emo the better.

  6. Kempatsu

    March 15, 2012 01:35 AM

    Pft, Halladay is fine..where’s the next story?

  7. Phillie697

    March 15, 2012 06:57 PM

    I’m panicking that we need an entire article to tell people how they shouldn’t panic about spring training stats. Do I have to read anymore of this non-sense from now to Opening Day??? The horror!!!

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