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!