The Seattle Mariners had their first full-squad workout of Spring Training. With games starting next week, we are bound to hear some of the same boring storylines.
The trick is to understand which actually matters and what doesn’t. These Spring Training “traps” aren’t exclusive to the Mariners, but there are a handful of headlines or discussion points to be wary about. Today, we take a look at a few traps to avoid.
“Player X is in the best shape of their life”
We have all heard this before. Most specifically, we have heard that mentioned about former ace Felix Hernandez. Just last year, the talk was about how Felix had totally changed his workout regimen and looked like a new guy.
Of course, what we actually saw was a Felix Hernandez who looked exactly as he had the year before, but produced even worse than his 2017 season. This applies to any iterations of the phrase above.
” Player Y spent the off-season working on his lower half,” or ” he focused on flexibility over weight training” basically mean the same thing: the player worked out this off-season. You know, like every player in the game does.
The simple truth is until we see these guys play, these type of statements aren’t worth discussing at all. Remember when Jesus Montero came into camp skinny? Did that help him? Not at all. Just be wary of these type of statements. Often times, they mean absolutely nothing.
Leaguers Impressing MLB Coaching Staff
Look, this isn’t a bad thing. But sometimes, this gets misinterpreted into, “this guy is going to make the team now!” 95% of the time, that isn’t the case. Let’s use Joey Curletta as an example. Even if Curletta bats 1.000 with 9 homers this spring, he’s not making the big league roster.
Impressing your potential future boss isn’t a bad thing. Radically altering plans based off 3 weeks of information is. The simple truth is, barring injury, the Mariners probably have 23 of their 25 man roster locked down.
Watching minor leaguers is a fun part of spring. But just because it’s exciting, doesn’t mean it is worth much in the grand scheme of things.
Spring Training Stats
This is, without a doubt, the biggest trap people fall into. What’s worse, people know it is a trap and still fall for it. Stats in spring training DO NOT MATTER. At least, not traditional stats like batting average, home runs, or RBI. There is still useful data to collect in spring, just not that which you or I will be privy to.
If a pitcher is adding a new pitch to his arsenal, spin rate information, swing-and-miss numbers, and command do matter. A batter hitting .200 or .600 does not. As a general rule of thumb, anything that gets put into a standard box score isn’t going to make much of a difference.
Instead of looking at a box score, watch as many games as you can. Look for players with a tangible difference that your eyes can catch. Is a player hitting the opposite field with more authority? Is a players’ fastball a little bit firmer this season?
These are all things that may matter in April through September. Not whether or not a guy slashed .300/.400/.500 in Spring Training.