Derek’s Newest P-I piece

Dave · March 24, 2005 at 11:39 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Derek’s latest Off the Wall column is up over at the P-I. He talks about the follies of making assessments of players based on spring training statistics, especially in circumtances where we have years and years of major league data to make an informed evaluation of a player’s ability. Here’s the most important sentence he writes:

The lesson of any serious examination of spring training statistics is that it’s a mistake to put any weight on them.

Now, I want to add on a little bit here, and I don’t think Derek will disagree with me, even if it seems like I might be contradicting his column a bit.

Giving any weight to spring training statistics is folly. Giving weight to spring training performance, in some cases, is not. Some players really do improve or decline certain aspects of their game over the offseason, and are different players in March since we last saw them in September. Thanks to the nature of spring training, we don’t have any real way to quantify the effects of these changes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. These are the kinds of outliers that scouts can see before they’re quantifiable. If a player has added 4-5 MPH to his velocity, has improved his footwork or range through an offseason of hard work, added a cut fastball to his repertoire, or made other such significant adjustments, it’s worth exploring.

The key is to remember that these adjustments are rare. There might be one guy per organization that takes that kind of leap forward. If your evaluators are telling you that half your team has taken a huge step forward, well, you probably need new scouts. And Derek’s point about fans who want to see the most optimistic view of every player on the roster, using good spring training stats to back up their assertions that Random Scrub is due for a breakout year, is a good one. That’s not analysis, it’s wishcasting.

Taking a guy like Aaron Sele and extrapolating that he’s back to 2001 levels because he has a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings is the latter; someone looking for any reason to get excited about an opinion they want to hold. However, if a scout who has been watching the game for 15 years tells me that Jose Lopez has shown a more balanced approach at the plate this spring and has improved his footwork around the bag, well, that’s something I want to know. That’s not worthless information.

The best example of what I’m talking about is Albert Pujols. In 2000, in the low-A Midwest League, Pujols hit .324/.387/.565, then hit .284/.298/.481 in 81 at-bats after a promotion to high-A. He had established himself as an exciting prospect with a world of potential, but looked exposed at the end of the 2000 season against A-ball pitchers. He looked like a guy who needed another year, maybe 18 months, in the minors. Pujols showed up in the spring of 2001 as a monster, looking nothing like the kid who had been struggling in Potomac the previous fall. He had put on about 20 pounds of muscle and was tearing the cover off the ball. For the whole of spring training, Pujols was the Cardinals best hitter. At the end of the month, Tony LaRussa just couldn’t send him down, so they brought him north with the club and found him at-bats wherever they could. He hit .329/.403/.610 and darn near won the NL MVP.

At the end of the 2000 season, sticking Pujols in the lineup the following opening day was folly. But the guy who showed up to camp was significantly better than the guy who left the club the previous fall. The Cardinals made the right choice in carrying Pujols, because they recognized the shift in his performance. This is legitimate analysis; we just couldn’t have quantified it ahead of time.

Spring training statistics are worthless. But if a player is knocking your socks off with a performance so vastly different from what you thought you had, its at least worth reconsidering the previous opinion. Its the difference between statistics and performance. A narrow difference, but a potentially significant one.


44 Responses to “Derek’s Newest P-I piece”

  1. PositivePaul on March 24th, 2005 12:05 pm

    But the observation that Sele’s curveball is actually curving quite nicely in Arizona for once can’t be bad news, can it?

  2. Dave on March 24th, 2005 12:09 pm

    Depends on who is making the observation.

    I try to say this without sounding rude, but I put basically no weight into what most fans see, especially in spring training.

  3. Scott on March 24th, 2005 12:27 pm

    I am glad you add on this piece, Dave.

    I agree that spring traning Stats are not important, but the performance has to count for something. Where do we look for players before the season to replenish our roster if not at spring trainings? Give them a major league audition? Sele had a history of good spring training and sucked in regular. So do we say ok you are great here but we know you would suck later, sorry for wasting your effort to fight for the spot. Then what’s the point of bringing anyone in the camp to try out?

    An off topic, Dave, do you write regularly for anyone? If yes, please also post your articles here. No offense to Derek, but I love your style much better.

  4. John in L.A. on March 24th, 2005 12:29 pm

    Great article. Great follow-up.

    So here is my unfair question to both of you. Or anyone.

    If there is (I know that was hypothetical) one player per squad that made a serious, technical improvement to their game this offseason… who would your early candidates for being that guy for the Mariners this year?

    I know it’s early… not really looking for an evaluation, just an educated guess based on limited data.

  5. John in L.A. on March 24th, 2005 12:35 pm

    #3 Why is it necessary to insult Derek in the process of complimenting Dave? If I were Dave that would suck all the value out of your praise. Adding the words “No offense to” in front of it doesn’t preclude insult.

  6. Dave on March 24th, 2005 12:43 pm


    USSM is my home. I’ll toss in a guest article here or there occassionally, but 95 % of my baseball writing gets posted here.

    And John, I don’t think his compliment was a slam on Derek. He just said he had a personal preference without saying anything negative about Derek at all. No big deal.

    Most likely Mariner to have taken a significant step forward? Probably Lopez, honestly. While his defense still gets mixed reviews, pretty much everyone agrees that he’s looked like a major league hitter so far.

    I still want Pokey to get the regular SS job, but I think there’s at least something of a subjective case for Lopez. Personally, I’d rather have him being groomed to play second next year in Tacoma, but if the team really believes Lopez has made strides at the plate and could hit .280/.330/.420 this year while playing reasonable defense at short, well, he’d be the best shortstop we have. And its hard to tell a manager that the best shortstop in the organization shouldn’t be in the majors.

  7. Ralph Malph on March 24th, 2005 12:45 pm

    I don’t see what Scott said as an insult.

    No offense to Britney Spears but I love Catherine Zeta-Jones’ look much better.

    Is that an insult to Britney? No, it just means I happen to think CZJ is a babe. I could insult Britney but chose not to. Scott just prefers Dave’s writing. To each his own.

  8. John in L.A. on March 24th, 2005 12:47 pm

    Fair enough, Dave. Apologies, Scott. I guess I am raw from all the host-insulting I see in comments. I’ll shut up.

    And I hope you are right on Lopez. It might do something to finally assuage my residual Guillen bitterness.

  9. Ralph Malph on March 24th, 2005 12:47 pm

    Now comparing Derek to Britney Spears might be an insult. Didn’t mean it that way, though.

  10. Jesse on March 24th, 2005 12:57 pm

    Re #8: Obviously letting go of Guillen the way we did was completely boneheaded, but let’s not forget he ended up last year right where people were afraid he’d be, on the DL. The man cannot stay healthy. Still, you’d expect them to actually have a plan for replacing him, which they obviously didn’t. I’m probably rehashing stuff that’s been said many times by now, but that’s something I say to myself every now and then to stay sane. He still ended the season on the DL.

  11. Rusty on March 24th, 2005 1:07 pm

    So we should ignore Boonie’s .212 avg, 1 double, 0 triples and 0 homers in 30-some AB’s?

    Okay, I would answer my own question “yes”. Boone isn’t competing for anything and hopefully he’s working on some things that don’t necessarily show up in the stat’s. That said, however, his spring isn’t looking all that good considering the down year of 2004.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he found his groove on opening day and started bashing the ball. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if he continues on with last season’s slump. If anything, his spring “performance” causes me to think that the range of projections on Boone is widening a bit.

  12. Evan on March 24th, 2005 1:25 pm

    The conclusions drawn from spring training stats, if sound, are unfalsifiable. Imagine:

    Aaron Sele, having a history of being lousy, comes to spring training and is great. Someone might get excited and say that Sele’s suddenly better, but the careful observer will point out the stats don’t mean anything, because spring training is both a small sample size and insufficiently similar to reguar season play.


    Aaron Sele, having a history of being lousy, comes to spring training and is lousy. That same careful observer might now be less careful and decide that Sele’s performance is telling, as he’s doing exactly what’s expected of him.

    But it’s not true; if ST stats are useless, then they’re useless regardless of what they say. Just as Sele’s ST stats can’t tell you that he’s going to go 24-2 with a 1.50 ERA, nor can they tell you he’d go 4-16 with a 5.50 ERA. They tell you nothing at all.

    Spring training is useful for two things. First, it’s practice. These guys haven’t played baseball in months. Second, it’s instruction. The only real conclusions coaches should draw from ST is whether a player is taking instruction well. Is he changing his mechanics or hos approach at the plate the way you’d like? Not whether the new approach is going to work, but whether he’s trying it.

    And beyond that, the stats tell us nothing. As much as I’d like to believe that Ichiro’s going to hit .550/.610/.690 for the season…

  13. Paul Covert on March 24th, 2005 1:34 pm

    In thinking about spring training statistics (and, really, any collection of stats with a small sample size), it might be helpful to think in terms of “noise to signal ratio.”

    The concept is used most often in electrical engineering. A “signal” is a pulse intended by the system designer to communicate meaningful information; a “noise” is a random electrical pulse that creeps into the system for various reasons. If you’ve got a system where the signal is supposed to be 1 volt (for “on”) or zero volts (for “off”), and you’ve also got random electrical noise of around +/- 0.1 volts creeping in, then there’s no problem for your system– just tell it to interpret anything above 0.5 volts as “on,” and it’ll interpret everything correctly. But if the noises are plus or minus ten volts, then the one-volt signal gets swamped by the noise, and the system is basically useless.

    (Apologies to any real EE’s out there if I’ve explained the technical details wrongly; but hopefully at least the general concept comes through okay.)

    In the case of baseball stats, the “signal” we’re trying to interpret is a player’s real, sustainable skill level. For example, if Jose Lopez established by the end of last year that he’s about a .250 hitter, and we’re wondering whether he’s establishing a new level of performance this year, then the “signal” might be a change in his batting-average skill level from .250 to .275.

    But if he’s got only 40 at bats this spring, then the “noise” significantly outweighs the “signal.” The difference between a .250 hitter and a .275 hitter is only one hit per 40 at-bats; but the “standard deviation” over 40 at-bats is close to three hits (meaning, basically, that it’s quite common for a .250 hitter to go anywhere from 13-for-40 [.325] to 7-for-40 [.175] in any given stretch of 40 AB’s). In Lopez’s specific case, he’s presently 14-for-44 on the spring (.318); a .250 hitter would have a 19% chance of doing that at random, compared to a 31% chance for a .275 hitter. Based on that information alone, we might easily conclude that the chance of him being a .250 hitter who’s had a good couple weeks is greater than the chance of him having suddenly advanced his game to the .275-hitter level.

    But now, suppose that a careful observer notices that, in addition to having a .318 average thus far, Lopez has also swung at only four or five bad pitches all spring, when in a similar sample last year he would have done that twenty or thirty times. (I’m being purely hypothetical here; I have no idea if any of that is true or not, but just suppose.) If the above were true, then that would be significant; it would tell us that Lopez is handling himself much better at the plate than before, and would further lead us to suspect that his apparent improvement might be real and not just a fluke.

    It was this sort of reasoning last year that caused me to take seriously the possibility that Gil Meche had come back up as a new pitcher. Just throwing a few low-run starts wouldn’t have gotten my attention; but the fact that he was walking drastically fewer hitters than before told me that he was doing something differently, and that I should watch him with fresh eyes and reserve judgment until the “new Meche” re-established a definite skill level on the mound.

  14. Yet Another Paul on March 24th, 2005 1:38 pm

    Dave says: But if a player is knocking your socks off with a performance so vastly different from what you thought you had, its at least worth reconsidering the previous opinion.

    Isn’t Sele’s performance knocking our socks off? People expected him to suck and he hasn’t (although that may be a statistics based opinion).

    Is there information on Sele’s performance that would lead us to conclude he hasn’t changed from the last 3 years performance standard?

  15. Dave on March 24th, 2005 1:44 pm

    Isn’t Sele’s performance knocking our socks off?

    No. He’s still throwing a pretty straight 87-91 MPH fastball with a 12-6 curve that is occasionally a strike. The results have been different, but the point wasn’t that the results are the key, but rather that you want to see an improvement in approach.

    People expected him to suck and he hasn’t (although that may be a statistics based opinion).

    Given a 12 inning sample, I didn’t expect him to do anything. 12 innings is so worthless that I wouldn’t have been surprised if he gave up two hits and struck out 20. Okay, maybe a little, but I’d still just shrug my shoulders at the numbers and say “its 12 spring training innings”.

    Now, it’d be different if a friend who scouts for the Rangers called me up and said that he had Sele hitting 94 on the gun, he’d added a solid average change-up to his repertoire, and his command was pinpoint. That’s a change worth taking notice of.

  16. Brian Rust on March 24th, 2005 1:55 pm

    Dave, I like your perspective, especially in drawing the distinction between statistics and performance. As important as statistical analysis is (or should be), the scout/coach/manager still has (or should have) the ability to discern whether change in spring training is real, or merely “random variation.”

    If Aaron Sele is doing well, I’m skeptical, but it’s also entirely possible that only now is he fully recuperated from his surgery, and he could be a decent (and experienced) #4 or #5 starter. I think BP knows what he’s seeing from this guy. And if Grover wants Jose Lopez to be his Opening Day SS, I’m all for it.

    11 days to go . . . .

  17. Evan on March 24th, 2005 2:00 pm

    Sure, Sele’s getting guys out, but HOW is he getting guys out? If he’s giving up a ton of hard liners that find their way into Pokey’s glove, that’s not Sele’s skill getting the outs.

    Incidentally, I loved this line from Derek’s piece:

    “Ichiro’s hitting like a super version of himself, which is strange because I thought that we had already seen the super version of Ichiro”

  18. Steve on March 24th, 2005 2:05 pm

    How wierd is this?? I go to USSM, Dave is preaching about the need to buttress statistics with scouting observations, and commenters keep saying, but what about Sele’s stats???

  19. Rusty on March 24th, 2005 2:17 pm

    Re: 14
    Sele’s performance knocking our socks off?

    Another thing I might add to what Dave replied to is to look at IP/SO/BB of each of the potential candidates for the starting rotation.

    Moyer 16.0/15/3
    Franklin 16.0/12/5
    Madritsch 14.0/11/7
    Meche 13.2/15/4
    Sele 12.0/9/2

    Since strikeouts and walks are generally thought of as controllable by the pitcher, it would seem that Sele’s Spring isn’t even that much better than Franklin’s. In fact, Franklin’s strikeouts are far better than what he usually does during the season. The controllable stat I left out is HR’s. Moyer has given up 3, Franklin 5, Maddy 2, Meche 0 and Sele 1. My reason for leaving it out of the list above is that HR’s are generally thought of as being less controllable by pitchers than either SO’s or BB’s.

    The only guy Sele is going to bump from the rotation is Franklin, and if you only look at Spring ERA 1.50 vs. 6.19, you wouldn’t be looking at the entire picture. If Sele is going to make the rotation, I would agree with Derek and Dave that it should be because he is showing some improvement in Spring Training that the coaches or the scouts are seeing that isn’t necessarily contained in the stats.

  20. Tim O on March 24th, 2005 2:21 pm

    The one thing I would say in Sele’s defense is that he actually has a history as a relatively solid #2 or #3 major league pitcher. He certainly was with Texas and his 2 years with the Mariners and even early on with Boston. His line with the Angels when he was affected by injuries was obviously quite poor, but if he is showing consistent command at this point, why isn’t he a better option than Franklin who has never shown that he is more than a #4 or #5 pitcher or a newcomer like Campillo. Personally I still would rather have the upside of King Felix all year, but definitely prefer what I’m seeing from Sele over Franklin in the #4/5 role.

  21. Dave on March 24th, 2005 2:26 pm

    Aaron Sele has thrown 410 innings the past three years. He hasn’t even been moderately useful since 2001. For three years, he’s sucked, and been healthy enough to suck in large quantities.

    The injury card just doesn’t hold water here. He’s been healthy enough to take the mound for 410 innings, and he’s been just straight out bad. You can’t just wave that away.

  22. DG on March 24th, 2005 2:32 pm


    Now THAT was a really good piece, man. Period.

  23. DG on March 24th, 2005 2:57 pm

    I’m with those who see spring STATS as useless but not the player’s display of talent and ability on the field. This actually gets a little bit into the stats versus scouts issue.

    For example, It clearly matters more WHO Greg Dobbs got his hits off of than it does that he simply recorded a few base knocks.

    But, it is also not very valuable in evaluating whether he can help the big club all season long.

    Now, if he had taken his 40 or so plate appearances and shown a consistent ability to make good, solid contact while evening out his approach and altering the thought that he “can’t take walks”, has very little power and that he isn’t valuable defensively…

    Maybe he’s be a guy the team would have to keep on the 25-man.

    But Dobbs still doesn’t draw walks, his power is still limited, mostly due to him just not swinging at the right pitch in many at-bats, and his timely hits this spring just aren’t enough to convince one that he’s a solid bench player, let a lone a guy that deserves 300+ AB’s.

    Defensively, I don’t have a problem with Dobbs, at least as the 4th or (eventually) the 5th bench guy.

    Overall, I want to see him do this for the rest of the spring and well into the PCL season before i even start to think he’s this type of player – or is even capable of being this player.

    It’s not STATS that scream. It’s ACTUAL talent and proven ability.

    Sele? I’m not so high on him, even after today’s solid outing. Over the past few seasons, as Dave pointed out above, Sele hasn’t stayed healthy, but moreso, he hasn’t pitched well – at all.

    If he hasn’t done either, what makes me confident that he will in 2005?

    Could he? Sure, he could. I just don’t like the chances. And I don’t like adding another 700k guaranteed and another 500k in possible to likely incentives to the payroll when Franklin is already guaranteed more than 2 million.

    Franklin stays healthy, we know that. No reason to think it would change now.

    I’d risk Franklin being a servicable fifth starter. Send Sele packing.

  24. Colm on March 24th, 2005 3:01 pm

    Can the both of them (Sele and Franklin) and start the bring back Campillo campaign right here.

  25. Jordan on March 24th, 2005 3:56 pm

    felix is too young. franklin should be the 5th starter. campillo stincks. I dont know what we se in him. He gets smashed in spring treaining. Think how well he will do when he hit the majors against everyday players. Franklin has proven himself. He just needs run support. You guys might me because I said capillo sucks, but i’m just speaken truth.

  26. Evan on March 24th, 2005 4:04 pm

    No, no, no. Felix should start in Tacoma where we’re less concerned with winning and more concerned with his development.

    As for Campillo, he’s striking out guys less often than any other pitcher in camp (3 Ks in 8.1 IP).

    I still think Franklin’s the best guy for the fifth slot.

  27. Xteve X on March 24th, 2005 4:09 pm

    I didn’t see much out of Campillo last night to warrant much more of a look. He looked like a right handed version of Denny Neagle to me. Very hittable, as he couldn’t get his fastball up to speed enough to make his change an out pitch, and his breaking ball was nothing special. He’s the kind of guy that would have about a 4-6 week lifespan in the majors. As soon as teams get some tape on him, it’s over.

    With that said, Franklin stinks too. Check his stats outside of Safeco and since Mike Cameron left. Run support isn’t his problem, being an average at best pitcher is.

  28. Jim Thomsen on March 24th, 2005 4:28 pm

    Slightly off-topic:

    I think we now know who probably won’t make the team, based on recent suckiness:

    — Nate Bland
    — Jamal Strong (awful defensively, surprisingly)
    — Jeff Nelson
    — Scott Atchison
    — Benji Gil
    — Ramon Santiago
    — Matt Thornton (I think he needs to be cut loose from the organization)
    — George Sherrill (seems like nobody’s really in his corner; may stay by sheer default)

    Ron Villone should be released, but it’s too late for that.

  29. toonprivate on March 24th, 2005 4:50 pm

    uh-oh — pujols gained 20 pounds of muscle in three months? he looked like a different guy?

    i agree that we read spring training stats the way we’re disposed to read them, by and large. so: ichiro’s “proving” he has a real shot at hitting .400; boone’s washed up; sexson’s ready to hit 40. and what we actually see is far more important. these are exhibition games, meaning the players are on display: beltre CAN really play third, for example, and spezio has lost a LOT of weight. good for him, now if starts making some serious contact!

  30. Scott on March 24th, 2005 4:54 pm

    #5, I have no intention of insulting Derek. I think I respect the guys enough not to come in his own blog to insult him. I enjoy almost all Dave’s posts and would like to find out if he is writing for other papers like Derek for PI.

    And Derek, I apologize if my post came out as an insult to you.

  31. Shaun on March 24th, 2005 4:54 pm

    Re #29 (which I fear will be gone soon enough):

    Franklins run support is completely worthless if he’s giving up what, almost 5 runs a game. You could argue for his skills if he were putting up 3s or so in the ERA column, and still losing like mad. But somehow I don’t see that ever happening. If you give up 5 runs a game, the odds are probably pretty good you’re going to love your fair share of games.

  32. Shaun on March 24th, 2005 4:55 pm

    Obviously, that should be lose, and not love.

  33. Xteve X on March 24th, 2005 4:55 pm

    #29, sorry Mr. Franklin, didn’t mean to insult your son like that. Perhaps in your zeal to show me his numbers from last year you should check out his total HRs allowed and road ERA. Sorry to break it to you bub, but your boy stinks.

  34. Dave on March 24th, 2005 7:21 pm

    Guys, read the comments guidelines before you post. This was a pretty disappointing thread to come home to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky.

  35. Pilots fan on March 24th, 2005 7:34 pm

    This thread has gone down the Sele path, but with respect to positive changes from last year that don’t show up in the stats, there is alot to be said about Olivo. I loved his athleticism and arm last year, but the dude did not know how to catch (OK, a little strong there, but you get the point).

    I had Wilson and him at 50/50 to come out of Peoria as the starter, based on the fact that 2004 Olivo had way too many passed balls. I think it is obvious watching him this spring that the stories are true — he worked his rear end off over the winter and has really improved behind the plate. That is great to see and he probably will catch over 100 games this year as Hargrove is saying.

    I know many of you won’t be sad to see Wilson sitting, and as a Wilson fan I won’t be either if Olivo keeps it up. There is no reason to expect he won’t.

  36. Colm on March 24th, 2005 10:43 pm

    Okay. I’m not high on Campillo. I’m just trying to elicit some skinny on the guy’s performance. Junkballer, very low K rate – exactly the same could be said for Jamie Moyer. Now Moyer at his best was as much of a freak as Ichiro – with some unGodly ability to reduce BABIP more than any non-knuckleballer in the game.

    The chances of Campillo replicating a Moyer-esque performance must be slim to none, and they can’t easily be ascertained in spring training. But I’m thinking if he can maintain his successful junkballing ways in Tacoma, he will begin to look like a genuinely serviceable 4th/5th starter, a la Mark Redman.

  37. 51 Rules! on March 24th, 2005 11:42 pm


    I hesitate to ask because I already know the high esteem you hold in Jim Street, but he charactarized Olivo this spring as 100% better or 100 times better or something like that (defensively). Do you see Olivo having taken a significant step forward in his defense?

  38. DG on March 25th, 2005 2:26 am

    After seeing him play quite a bit this spring, Olivo has been much better. Blocking balls, looking confident.

    But 100 times better? Or even 100% better? ANYTHING would have been that much better than he was after June last year.

  39. Jerry on March 25th, 2005 9:41 am

    I like Dave’s post, since it seems to me like a bad idea to just disregard spring training stats. Like most small-samples, they need to be looked at critically.

    One thing that didn’t get mentioned that I think is a big part of spring training is that it is a time when guys show the team that they are healthy. For people like Pineiro, Guardado, Sele, and Nelson, spring training games take on much more meaning. The team has to evaluate if guys are healthy enough to compete.

    For Sele and Nelson in particular, I think that spring stats are meaningful. Both guys are pretty solid pitchers if they are healthy. Both are coming off injuries. People often point out Sele’s stats the last 2 years when arguing that he is not a good pitcher, but he has had shoulder problems that contributed a lot to the difference between his performance in 2001 and 2004. For Sele, spring trainings is a time for him to demonstrate that his shoulder is healthy. If healthy, I think that Sele is probably a better pitcher than Franklin. Thus far, this seems to be the case.

    The same rule applies with Nelson. He lost 2004 to injuries. However, if he is healthy, he is well worth a spot on the roster. This spring, his results have been mixed to poor, but his arm seems sound.

  40. DMZ on March 25th, 2005 10:09 am

    One thing that didn’t get mentioned that I think is a big part of spring training is that it is a time when guys show the team that they are healthy.

    From the article:

    The most important thing teams are trying to gauge is whether or not players coming back from injuries are healthy, and if they’re OK, how close they are to being ready to play.

  41. RealRhino on March 25th, 2005 10:54 am


    I just wished you had mentioned that there is no correlation between spring training records and regular season records.

    Good stuff.

  42. eponymous coward on March 25th, 2005 11:34 am

    Sele was performing decently last year before his sholuder went pfffft in June.

    Sele’s the definition of 6 inning pitcher even when healthy (it looks like he melted down after a 111 pitch, 6 IP outing in May), but let’s be real here: with Joel Piniero being a big huge question mark for being able to re-enter the rotation come mid-April, I see the issue differently than “Franklin > Sele as the 5th starter”. I see it more as “Do you want to throw away a cheap veteran who seems to be pitching effectively right now, when one of your starters is going to miss a couple of weeks at a minimum, and risk having to throw a kid who’s not ready into the rotation?” This didn’t pan out very well for us last year (see Blackley, Travis and Nageotte, Clint). I think the M’s are quite right to go slow with King Felix, as well as to not award starting slots to kids who are performing at a “meh” level.

    I think keeping Sele around and using Franklin in the pen for the first two weeks is very logical and quite defensible. Then, if Piniero comes back on schedule, you can evaluate if Sele’s still pitching effectively and either swap BOTH Franklin and Piniero in, or just Piniero. If Piniero doesn’t come back and Sele’s pitching OK, Franklin can get the spot. And if Piniero is going to be visiting Dr. Frank Jobe and Sele sucks or is also planning his own visit…well, see who’s doing well in Tacoma, I suppose.

  43. Evan on March 25th, 2005 12:16 pm

    Now that’s a good argument. Given that we may have short-term need of an adequate starter, should we keep Sele around as long as he’s effective and jettison him as soon as he’s not?

    The answer is probably yes.

  44. John D. on March 31st, 2005 10:40 am

    Re: The Meaninglessness of ST stats – This from JOHN DEWAN’S STAT OF THE WEEK:

    Is Spring Training performance a good predictor for the regular season?

    John Dewan’s Stat of the Week – TM

    March 31, 2005

    Based on past research, Spring Training doesn’t tell us much about the regular season. It doesn’t really relate to the regular season if players or teams have poor or average Spring Training camps. In fact, earlier this month two former GMs made virtually the same comment. In separate interviews, Dallas Green and Steve Phillips said the worst time to make player judgments are Spring Training and September call-ups.

    Nevertheless, that past research did find one exception. A hitter that has a tremendous Spring Training does correlate to a better than normal season. In precise statistical terms, a hitter with a positive difference between their Spring Training slugging percentage and their lifetime slugging percentage of .200 or more alerts us to a step forward in the coming season.

    We looked at hitters with 100 or more career regular season AB and with 36 or more 2005 Spring Training AB through the Spring Training games of Monday, March 28, 2005.

    Here are the top 30 hitters who meet our criteria that predict a better season. Note four Chicago White Sox hitters in the top 13, though they have their Spring Training home in Tucson, the highest altitude of all the Spring Training cities.

    Name Team Diff Spring Career
    Jones, Andruw Atl 0.682 1.175 0.493
    Gross, Gabe Tor 0.639 0.949 0.310
    Lee, Carlos Mil 0.487 0.975 0.488
    White, Rondell Det 0.407 0.878 0.471
    Monroe, Craig Det 0.384 0.841 0.457
    Garcia, Jesse SD 0.374 0.674 0.300
    Borchard, Joe CWS 0.357 0.689 0.332
    Gotay, Ruben KC 0.344 0.719 0.375
    Rowand, Aaron CWS 0.334 0.809 0.475
    Garciaparra, Nomar ChC 0.331 0.880 0.549
    Everett, Carl CWS 0.327 0.800 0.473
    Burrell, Pat Phi 0.322 0.792 0.470
    Ozuna, Pablo CWS 0.313 0.646 0.333
    Peralta, Johnny Cle 0.308 0.630 0.322
    Terrero, Luis Ari 0.303 0.659 0.356
    Branyan, Russell Mil 0.301 0.780 0.479
    Glaus, Troy Ari 0.286 0.783 0.497
    Young, Michael Tex 0.273 0.706 0.433
    Ortiz, David Bos 0.269 0.786 0.517
    Bocachica, Hiram Oak 0.263 0.639 0.376
    Suzuki, Ichiro Sea 0.261 0.704 0.443
    Blake, Casey Cle 0.250 0.689 0.439
    Piazza, Mike NYM 0.249 0.811 0.562
    Polanco, Placido Phi 0.246 0.656 0.410
    Cuddyer, Mike Min 0.242 0.675 0.433
    Matthews Jr., Gary Tex 0.241 0.627 0.386
    Pujols, Albert StL 0.236 0.860 0.624
    Thome, Jim Phi 0.226 0.795 0.569
    Wigginton, Ty Pit 0.221 0.645 0.424
    Wilson, Craig Pit 0.210 0.707 0.497
    Although, I find this revelation impressive, I wonder about this paragraph:

    “Here are the top 30 hitters who meet our criteria that predict a better season. Note four Chicago White Sox hitters in the top 13, though they have their Spring Training home in Tucson, the highest altitude of all the Spring Training cities.”

    Isn’t there a direct correlation between altitude and slugging percentage? *
    I think John has it all wrong. The fact that nine of the top thirteen are Chisox is not surprising at all.
    (But I would keep my eyes on the Grapefruit Leaguers on this list, especially ANDRUW JONES and GABE GROSS.)
    * Balls travel farther in the thinner air, and are easier to hit (they don’t curve as much).