What To Believe In Spring Training
You should never buy into how players do in Spring Training. Except when they’re playing for a spot in the roster or a position battle, because then how they do in Spring Training in all that matters. Unless you really like the player and he sucked, or you hate him and he did great, then you don’t believe it. The Cactus League is a hitter’s league, except when they play in pitcher’s parks, you can’t trust anyone’s stats because half of them are against the scrubs and they don’t do a split on MLB.com or baseball-reference.com to tell you which half of the stats were that, and of course it’s always a small sample size except it’s all they can show you.
It’s confusing trying to figure out what to believe about Spring Training.
Luckily for you, we’re here to help you figure out what you should be believing about the players having good and bad springs.
• Barry Zito – On one hand, he’s got a 3.00 ERA, and 17 strikeouts with just six walks. On the other hand, he’s got 20 hits given up in 18 innings. Last year, he had a terrible spring and started the year by throwing a shutout at Coors Field, had a pretty mediocre year and then miraculously figured out how to be forgiven for having one of baseball’s worst contracts. Oh, and he did okay in the playoffs. Believe: He’s not as good as you remember, because you’re just remembering the playoffs, but he’s not as bad as you used to remember.
• Tim Lincecum – He’s always had bad springs: 4.50 in 2008, 4.03 in 2009, 6.94 in 2010, 4.37 in 2011, 5.70 in 2012. But he has a 10.97 ERA in 4 starts this year, and has given up 17 hits in 10 2/3 innings. And he’s coming off of one of the statistically worst years any starter has had in years. Believe: That you’re going to hear a lot of debate, frustration and doubt about Lincecum this year. Me, I’m going to believe it’s all because of the haircut.
• Pablo Sandoval – He’s fat, but he’s batting .435 in Cactus League games this spring and was good in the WBC. Oh, and he has bone chips in his elbow. Believe: That Pablo is going to keep finding the silliest ways of getting injured, but he’ll keep performing.
• Brandon Crawford – He’s batting .354 with three doubles, two triples and a home run in 18 games. And he’s still playing incredible defense. Believe: That people will keep praising his incredible defense. And when they talk about his offense, it will be followed by a “but” and more praise of his defense.
• Buster Posey – A .250 batting average after his MVP season has raised more talk of how his ankle injury is going to affect him this season. You know, after he had an MVP season less than a year after the injury. Believe: The Giants will go how he goes. And the Giants should go well.
• Marco Scutaro – He hit well in the WBC, sort of. He played only two games and went 2-for-7 with a double and a walk. But he’s batting .231 for the Giants in the Cactus League, and now his back is acting up. Believe: That any time you think of how Scutaro will do this season, you should also think about how Joaquin Arias will do this season.
• Joaquin Arias – He’s batting .235 with a .231 on-base percentage in 17 games. Believe: The Giants do an amazing job of finding minor league scrubs and squeezing one great year out of them. And he had a great year, last year.
• Madison Bumgarner – He’s got a 1.84 ERA, has given up a .196 batting average against him, and 12 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. And yet, there are worries about how he’ll hold up for the season, and his elbow, and his slider, and so on. Believe: No matter how old he gets, you’re still going to think he’s a young starter, and worry about his innings.
• Sergio Romo – He has a 3.38 ERA, but he’s a closer, and you don’t really get to be in save positions in the Spring. Luckily, he closed for Mexico twice, and blew one save and looked great in the other. Believe: That you will worry about him every time he throws. And you’ll have forgotten you felt that way every time Brian Wilson threw. And Robb Nen. And Rod Beck.
• Brandon Belt – He’s batting .433, has 7 home runs in 19 games, which is tied for most of any player in Spring Training, but in less games than the other three with that many. Believe: I TOLD YOU THIS DAY WOULD COME, ALLAY’ALL! BELIEVE IN THE MIGHTY BELT! ALL-STAR STARTER BABY!