Tag:spring stats
Posted on: March 28, 2008 5:36 pm

Fling spring

This close to the regular season, some of us get a little antsy.

We've looked last season's numbers up and down over and over again, and quite frankly, we're tired of them. We want a sneak peak at what lies ahead.

So what do we do? We look at this year's spring numbers, of course. How can we resist?

Say your name is Colin Chaput. You give in to temptation and start looking up spring box scores. You check out the league leaders and start making comparisons, trying to beat some of your leaguemates to the punch, when you notice a trend that raises an eyebrow or two.

Superstar A is hitting .190 with a .293 slugging percentage and zero home runs in 58 at-bats.
Sleeper A is hitting .294 with a .608 slugging percentage and two home runs in 51 at-bats.

"That's gold, Jerry!" you think, and you run over to your computer and punch out an e-mail, hoping you can get one of the writers at CBSSports.com to validate your finding:

How much value do you place on spring numbers? For example, it seems Stephen Drew is having a great spring while Jimmy Rollins is hitting .190. Should this be considered on Draft Day this weekend?

Somebody hold me back before I do something I regret.

I don't mean to pick on Colin, who, from what I can tell, is just trying to do his due diligence. Preparation is an important part of any Fantasy draft, and I'd rather see someone do too much than too little. But Colin's question is another example of why so many Fantasy writers tell you to ignore spring statistics.

Spring training is not about playing well. For a guy like Rollins, who has an established role on the team -- and in the league, for that matter, having won the NL MVP last year -- spring is a time to get in shape and avoid getting hurt. Stats are secondary.

And I don't mean to say he's not trying or has a bad attitude or anything like that, but think about it. If you started playing games again after a few months off, do you think you'd be at your best right away, or would you need a few hacks to round into form? And even if you do have your midseason stroke going, you don't think you might have to endure a 50 at-bat stretch where you hit .190? I'm sure Rollins has had similar cold stretches over the past few years. Shoot, 50 at-bats is like 1/14 of the season for him.

League MVPs hitting .190 the next season is unprecedented. League MVPs hitting .190 the next spring? Not so much. Rollins is fine.

Now, to be fair to Colin, he didn't exactly ask if he should consider Drew over Rollins. He just wondered if the numbers should carry any weight on Draft Day. No doubt, Drew is a developing young player who underachieved offensively last year. If you take his spring numbers as a sign of a breakout -- a legitimate case, I think -- and decide you'd rather pass on Rollins early and go for Drew late, by all means, do so.

Just don't go flip-flopping them in your rankings or anything crazy like that.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 25, 2008 2:16 am
Edited on: May 8, 2008 7:51 pm

Westbrook not worth the look

Look ...

Jake Westbrook -- see all those crazy stats he's putting up this spring? The zero earned runs through 14 innings? The five hits allowed? The 16 strikeouts?

Stop looking.

Turn off your monitor if you have to. I won't mind. I'd rather the rest of my words fall on deaf ears than you put in a claim for Westbrook, thinking he's somehow going to save your Fantasy season. It ain't gonna happen. And his six shutout innings against the Braves on Monday aren't going to change my mind.

Westbrook's monster spring is the exact reason so many Fantasy experts tell you not to pay one bit of attention to spring statistics. Oh, some of them might mean something, sure, but if you open the door to interpretation, too many people aren't going to know where to draw the line.

Westbrook is 30 years old. He's been a full-time major-league starter for the better part of five seasons now, and we know exactly what he does. He posts an ERA above 4.00, a WHIP of around 1.400 and a strikeout rate of less than five batters per nine innings. Unless you play in an AL-only league, where any serviceable starting pitcher becomes a useful member of a Fantasy staff, you don't want those numbers in Fantasy.

Why would this year be any different? Why would a pitcher with a track record like Westbrook's suddenly emerge as a Fantasy ace? Did he learn a new pitch? Did he just discover he was left-handed and throwing with the wrong arm all along? Is there a fountain of pitching dominance hidden in the lowlands of the Ohio River?

Transformations like that just don't happen. With the exception of Esteban Loaiza in 2003 -- and what has he done since? -- veteran pitchers don't go from serviceable to studly overnight. They don't. I promise. Chris Carpenter didn't have Westbrook's track record when he broke out. Neither did Dave Bush (if he ever did qualify as studly).

Westbrook got hot -- it's as simple as that. He'll get hot again during the season. Then, he'll get cold. Then, he might get hot again. Then cold. The point is his stats should even out to their norms by season's end.

So if you want to put in a waiver claim for Westbrook, I won't stop you. Hey, he should win a few games for the Indians, if nothing else. But if you grab him, grab him for his career numbers, not his spring numbers.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 18, 2008 2:08 am
Edited on: March 18, 2008 2:09 am

Cut it out, you guys

Cuts are an inevitable part of spring training. Teams come in knowing they have to trim their rosters to 25, and most already have 20 or so of those spots figured out.

But some cuts -- pardon the pun -- sting a bit more than others. Particularly in Fantasy, where you spend an abnormal amount of time studying players' numbers and trends, you grow attached to a handful of fringe players, and when they fall short of making the roster, you can't help but feel a little bit bummed.

So here's three cuts that caught my interest today. Keep in mind that, since these are fringe players, they're in large part irrelevant in standard 10- or 12-team mixed leagues:

OF Steve Pearce, Pirates
I just wrote about this guy the other day. What a shame. After Pearce came in and bopped three homers right away, I thought the Pirates might give him a chance at least to share at-bats with Xavier Nady in right. But he'll have to wait, gaining experience in the minors for now. I still say he ends up becoming a decent provider of home runs in NL-only leagues before season's end, likely following a trade of either Nady or Jason Bay. He ended the spring with a .263 average and four home runs in 38 at-bats.

OF Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
Really, you kind of sensed this one coming -- no matter how unfair it seems. For sure, Rasmus looks like he belongs. The five-tool athlete hit .273 with two home runs and three stolen bases in 33 at-bats. Even more impressively, he walked 12 times, or more than one-fourth of his plate appearances -- that's not a misprint -- to give him an on-base percentage of .467. Ay, chihuahua. So why didn't he get the job? He's 21 and has minor-league options -- it's that simple. Right now, I think the Cardinals like Skip Schumaker for their outfield vacancy and leadoff spot, and I could see him hitting for a decent average and keeping the job all year. But if someone suffers an injury, put in a claim for Rasmus.

SP Greg Smith, Athletics
I normally subscribe to the belief that spring stats mean nothing, but I do like to monitor them for young, under-the-radar pitchers (you need only look at Dave Bush in 2006 or James Shields last year to understand why), and I thought I had picked up on a winner in Smith. One of the prospects acquired in the Dan Haren trade, the 24-year-old lefty allowed only nine hits and three walks in 13 innings, striking out nine and posting an ERA of 1.38 ERA. Of course, the man who looks to have the job over him, Dana Eveland, did pretty well in his own right, striking out 14 in 15 innings with an ERA of 1.20. I'm telling you: It might not contend this season, but I think this Oakland team has the goods stashed away to become competitive awfully fast.


And now for those of you who play in standard mixed leagues ...

Kerry Wood looks like the clear favorite to nab the job of Cubs closer at this point. Cubs manager Lou Piniella offered this carefully-worded bit of insight after Wood's performance Sunday -- a good one, mind you.

"Woody's making it easier. Not tougher. Easier. But let's wait on that decision. He's been throwing strikes. He's been going after the hitters. His velocity has been good. He's mixing in some nice hard sliders."

Let's dissect this quote. A player makes a manager's decision tougher when he plays so well that he challenges the favorite. A player makes a manager's decision easier when he plays so well that he remains the favorite.

Get it?

Wood is the favorite. I'm guessing he always has been. So even though I endorsed Carlos Marmol from a Fantasy perspective since Day 1, I have to switch over to the Wood camp now. Hey, I don't manage the team. I don't think Wood will have as tight of a hold on the job as Marmol would have had, but if you want to get the Cubs closer on Draft Day, you have to go for Wood.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 8, 2008 4:19 am
Edited on: May 8, 2008 8:02 pm

Some spring stats worth noting

I realize I haven't written in a couple days. My weekends work a little differently than most people's. But hey, at least I got my Tiers entry a few more looks. (I'll have to keep renewing that post or something.)

Today, I wanted to examine a few early spring statistics that I think have an impact in Fantasy. I think we all know by now not to put too much stock into spring statistics. Players tend to play themselves into shape during the spring and care less about performing well as getting ready to perform well. I got it. But at the same time, they do have significance in the right circumstances. They might offer a glimpse at a breakout for a young, developing player or a tip of the scales in a position battle.

So here's a look at five players whose performances have caught my attention in the last few days.

OF Steve Pearce, Pirates
This soon-to-be 25-year-old demonstrated great power in the minors without the kind of crazy strikeout rates that keep some big sluggers from realizing their potential in the bigs. And so far, his heavy hitting has carried over into the spring. He's tied for the league lead with three home runs, doing so while hitting .304 and slugging .783. The Pirates clearly want to give him looks, too: He leads the team with 23 at-bats. We know Xavier Nady is nothing special in right field, so with the Pirates not expected to compete this year, why wouldn't they give this kid a chance instead? Grab Pearce in NL-only leagues.

SP Andy Sonnanstine, Rays
Sonnanstine's statistics kind of veer the other way, toward the negative. After impressing off and on in a few starts late last year, he entered 2008 as a favorite to win one of the final two spots in the Rays rotation. Yet so far in three appearances, he's worked no more than an inning and has yet to make a start. I don't get it. Coming into the spring, I liked this guy as my favorite deep sleeper starting pitcher in the AL (to go along with Jason Bergmann in the NL), but the Rays aren't stretching him like they would an intended starter. Do they want him in the bullpen? I'd still consider drafting him because you don't have much to lose for as late as you could take him, but I don't feel as good about his chances now.

RP Carlos Marmol, Cubs
Time for good news again. Marmol pitched the ninth inning and earned a save Friday against the Mariners, which normally wouldn't mean anything during the spring because teams don't use their relievers situationally. But the fact that Marmol -- one of three candidates to close -- entered the game in a save situation sounds like more than mere coincidence. Maybe the Cubs wanted a look at how he'd handle that situation mentally. I already figured Marmol had the edge in this three-way battle -- he dominated as a setup man last year -- and this demonstration only gives me more reason to believe. Target him if you hope to nab the Cubs closer.

OF Chase Headley, Padres
The Padres converted Headley from third base this spring, hoping he'd compete for the job in left field. So far, he's done more than compete. With a .462 batting average and .846 slugging percentage through his first 13 at-bats, I feel like he's put himself right at the top of the list. He has great plate discipline, having posted a .437 on-base percentage at Double-A last year, and I tend to think that brand of hitter has a better chance of surviving his rookie season. Of course, I always liked Headley's competition, Scott Hairston, and thought he never got the at-bats he deserved. Then again, with center fielder Jim Edmonds and right fielder Brian Giles already dealing with injuries, both Headley and Hairston might work their way into the outfield. Think of Headley as a nice NL-only sleeper, especially since he probably still qualifies at third base in your league.

3B Andy LaRoche, Dodgers
OK, I'm kind of cheating with this one, wanting to talk more about his injury than his stats. LaRoche tore a ligament in his thumb Friday and won't play again until May, making a washed up Nomar Garciaparra the starter by default. It's a real shame, too, because LaRoche had gotten off to a great start, hitting .350 with a .959 OPS through 20 at-bats. With all the hype going to rookies Evan Longoria and Jay Bruce this spring, I thought LaRoche had an opportunity to make a bigger impact than either. He still might -- it's not like this injury will cost him his whole season -- but if it motivates the Dodgers to acquire Brandon Inge or Joe Crede, forget it. And yes, I know LaRoche looked terrible in his 93 at-bats last season, but you can't take those too seriously. Rookies are supposed to struggle. The ones who don't are the freaks.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com