Your Annual Spring Training Stats Warning
The dawn of a new spring for baseball is usually accompanied by a warning about spring training stats, especially if run in Sabermetric circles. In general, spring training stats do more harm than good for a plethora of reasons. Here are a few reminders from past springs.
Lou Montanez (2012)
Montanez hit well last spring, finishing with a .901 OPS in 49 at-bats. The Phillies, not fooled by his .347 spring batting average, didn’t bring him along when they broke camp at the end of March. With Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Montanez posted a .423 OPS in 44 AB before being released in early May. He joined the St. Louis Cardinals, but didn’t improve much, posting a .665 OPS for Triple-A Memphis.
Placido Polanco (2012)
Many thought Polanco had found the fountain of youth as the veteran hit .429 with a 1.050 OPS in 42 AB. The success didn’t translate, as you may recall. When he wasn’t on the sidelines battling injuries, Polanco hit .257 with a .629 OPS during the regular season, a disappointing end to an otherwise successful three-year stint with the Phillies.
Ben Francisco (2011)
Francisco hit his way into a starting role two springs ago, finishing with a 1.106 OPS, tied for the team lead with five home runs. When Francisco wasn’t able to replicate that success immediately, his playing time quickly vanished. His PA by month went from 107 in April to 74, 47, 23, 11, and 31 in the following months.
Brian Schneider (2011)
Schneider gave off the impression that maybe he had just a bit left in the tank when he ended his spring with a .901 OPS. He hit .176 with a .502 OPS during the regular season.
Joe Blanton (2011)
3.19 ERA in 31 spring innings. 5.01 ERA in 41.1 regular season innings before succumbing to injury.
Cole Hamels (2011)
6.67 ERA in 27 spring innings. 2.79 ERA in 216 regular season innings, finishing fifth in Cy Young voting.
There are many more examples, and surely you could point out a few that work the other way, such as Roy Halladay‘s spring last year. Overall, though, you could just as reliably predict regular season success by flipping a coin as opposed to relying on spring training stats, though.