What Can We Take Away From Spring Training?

Before anyone freaks out, I just want to make it clear that I don’t put much stock in spring training statistics. However, it is fun to see what the first month of quasi-baseball games has produced, especially given the fan/media perceptions from the pre-season. Here are my thoughts on a few Braves players and what their spring stats say to me.

Jeff Francoeur (.242/.266/.371): None of these numbers bother me, even though they are not good. They are well within the variation we would expect based on past performance. What worries me is that Francoeur suggested that he was working on increasing his walks and homers. So far he has homered and walked once. I would rather see Frenchy bat .100 and walk five times than what he put up. Homers are a bit harder to come by, so you can’t read much into his one homer in 62 at-bats. Still, I’m not buying the break-out hype. I see no reason to change my expectation that Francoeur appears to be settling into a career as an adequate right fielder, not an All-Star. If he was working on something in spring training, it didn’t take. If he can’t walk more than once in the spring, his goal of 60 is probably out of reach.

Yunel Escobar (.361/.394/.508): He continued his hot play from last season. It’s certainly not a bad sign, but I still expect a sub-800 OPS.

Gregor Blanco (.326/.464/.442): Probably the biggest surprise in camp. No one thought he had a chance to make this club going into spring training. If he could add any power to his game, he’d be a useful player. He’ll be gone soon unless he pulls a Willie Harris.

Jair Jurrjens (5.03 ERA): Jurrjens has been praised highly in the Atlanta media, and he has made the team’s starting rotation. There is no denying that the kid has potential, but it is way too early to expect his arrival in the big leagues to be permanent. In 19 2/3 innings pitched he struck out nine, walked nine, and gave up no homers. Based on his minor league numbers, I don’t think he’s quite ready for the big show. It will be interesting to see how long he lasts. If Chuck James is healthy, expect him to replace Jurrjens before the All-Star break. I like Jurrjens, but he needs more time in the oven.

Jeff Bennett (1.93 ERA): The ERA is pretty but there is nothing special to see here. Five strikeouts, six walks, and a hit batter in 14 innings. At least he didn’t give up any home runs.

Anyway, I’m glad that the regular season is finally here. I think the Braves have a team capable of making the playoffs. It should be a fun season. Go Braves!

4 Responses “What Can We Take Away From Spring Training?”

  1. Cyril Morong says:

    John Dewan’s stat of the week had something on how spring training stats might indicate something. Here is what he said, followed by the link. The link has a list of possible breakout players.

    “A few years ago we discovered that there is a way to use spring training stats to predict future performance. We took all spring training hitters and found that, as expected, about half of them do better than their career norms in the upcoming season, and about half of them do worse than their career norms. However, when we chose only those players doing exceptionally well in spring training, we found that about three-fourths of them performed better than their career average during the upcoming season.

    Our definition of “exceptionally well” was slugging 100 points higher in spring training than their previous career slugging percentage.”

    http://www.actasports.com/sow.php?id=164

  2. Hill says:

    Of course I might tend to be a bit biased when say every year we’ll win the Series this fall but it seems that Jayson Stark has my back.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/preview08/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=3320120

  3. Jason S. says:

    I totally agree about Jair Jurrjens. A quick survey online seems to indicate that some of the blogs are a little surprised by this one too.

  4. Marc Schneider says:

    I see nothing to suggest that Francouer is anything more than what JC says–an adequate right fielder. I think he may well end up being one of the most overrated players in baseball.

    The Braves are capable of making the playoffs in a very mediocre league but I don’t think much more. In Search of Being OK seems to be the Braves motto these days.