With 2 weeks of spring training completed, most teams have played 10 or so games. While there are numerous players in camps trying to make an impression and earn a spot, there are more veterans who are simply working through a few things and going through the motions of spring. Of course, reporters are also going through the motions of spring. So some cases of over-reaction are certainly an order of the day. When it come to concluding anything from spring training stats most people are dismissive and use terms like “small sample size.” True, a 16 at-bat sample is not enough to conclude that a player will end the regular season batting 0.400, but the savvy drafter should pay attention to these small samples, the same way you do during the regular season when gauging which “hot” hitting free agent to add or which “locked in” pitcher to acquire. While many of these statistics offer simple humor, fantasy owners should be aware of some of them.
An Ace No More: Clayton Kershaw has an ERA of 10.0
Twelve hits, 4 walks in 9 innings. There is nothing to see here, but it is fun to imagine fantasy owners knocking Kershaw down to the 4th round based on these numbers.
Interestingly enough, it took Kershaw until his 4th start of 2013 to allow his 8th run. After a 9-inning domination of the Giants in his first start, he followed that up with 7 shutout innings against the Pirates. He then gave up 3 runs in 7/1 innings against Arizona on April 12. In his next start, he lasted only 5.1 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, including 3 HR and allowing 4 walks to the Padres. He would go on to allow 6 runs over his next 6 starts, so like I said, nothing to see here.
Bombtista Back To Work: Jose Bautista leads in HR
Bautista is also hitting a robust 0.412, so some correction would be expected there. The power is great to see from Bautista, who has hit 55 HR over the past 2 seasons. The issue with Bautista is staying healthy. His season ended on August 20, and coming back from a wrist injury that ended his 2013, it is nice to see the power owners expect.
Prone to hot and cold streaks, Bautista had 4 2-HR games in 2013. He also had streaks of 13 and 11 games without a HR.
Go Speed Racer Go: Billy Hamilton has 6 steals
I am bullish on Hamilton. I think he can steal 100 bases this year. His 0.313 average and 0.450 OBP is nice to see. Four walks in 16 plate appearances show some nice plate discipline.
Hamilton is actually well behind his pace from 2013. In a mere 22 plate appearances, Hamilton swiped 13 bases in 14 attempts in 2013. One reason I expect him to hold such value in roto this year is the ability for Cincinnati to use him as a pinch runner and defensive substitution if they feel his bat is not ready to produce. It is wise to note that Dee Gordon, in a battle for a starting position for the Dodgers, has 8 stolen bases so far this spring (another potentially savvy source of steals).
We’re Gonna Need More K Cards: Aroldis Chapman has 9 K’s in 5 innings
The most dominant strikeout pitcher in baseball. Chapman has had a K/9 over 15 for 2 straight seasons, the only pitcher to ever accomplish that feat.
His K/9 actually increased from 2012 to 2013, so he could challenge a K/9 of 16. If you do the math, and he pitches 65 innings in relief, this translates to 115 strikeouts. This would place his 95th overall in strikeouts. This is more strikeouts than Jon Niese had in 143 innings, than Gerrit Cole had in 114 innings, than Clay Buchholz had in 108 innings. Aside from his saves, Chapman holds tremendous value in roto leagues for his K potential in low innings.
A few other stats of note thus far:
Mike Moustakas and Jurickson Profar have 10 RBI
Both play for teams that have productive offenses, and this would be a great sign to get this type of production from these guys. I expect Moustakas to bounce back and show nice power this year. I am not as high on Profar, but he should have plenty of chances to drive in runs in Texas.
Dustin Ackley is hitting 0.478
Ackley is a 0.245 career hitter in the majors, while a 0.290 in the minors. With the improved offense in Seattle, if he can get his average up to the 0.275 range, he should reward owners with runs and RBI.
Archie Bradley has 9 K’s in just over 6 innings
Bradley is a future ace, but the future will not emerge in 2014. He is still a year away from Arizona, but it is great to see this success.
Nick Castellanos has committed 2 errors
Remember last year when people were nervous about Miguel Cabrera holding down the hot corner in Detroit? Well, Cabrera had an error-free spring in 2013. Castellanos is moving back to 3B from the OF, so it is not unexpected that he will have to relearn some of the position. The job is his, so no worries here.
Steve Delabar has 2 wins
I think Delabar is a very under-rated fantasy option. He has been downright dominant out of the bullpen in Toronto. He has 9 wins over past 2 seasons, K/9 over 12, ERA in the 3’s, WHIP of 1.35 last year, but 1.09 in 2012. He is a great pick in a league that rewards holds as well as roto leagues. I actually grabbed him last night in my H2H auction league for $1 to serve as my #2 RP.
The World Series champs are 4-7
I expected a step back to reality this year for the Red Sox after putting together an absolutely magical 2013 season. There are plenty of questions with this team, but they already showed last year that when the rubber meets the road they can get it done. I mean does anyone expect to see a Cleveland-Pittsburgh World Series this year (currently the 2 best teams in Spring Training)?
Just a few other players to keep on your radar:
Chad Qualls: for now Qualls appears to be the leader in the clubhouse to at least start the season as the Astros closer.
Jesse Chavez: The journeyman Chavez has been straight-up nasty for Oakland this spring training. The A’s bullpen is stocked, but Chavez currently looks like the best bet to get high leverage middle relief appearances.
Bryce Brentz: Brentz has 3 HR so far this spring, and at least 2 have been of the bomb variety. He may not start the season in the majors, but there are certainly questions in the Red Sox OF, so he has the chance to make an appearance if injuries or ineffectiveness force managements hand. A top hitting prospect in the Sox organization, he is a guy worth looking at in keeper and dynasty leagues. (Staying in the Boston OF, Grady Sizemore has a shot to be at least a 50-50 platoon with Jackie Bradley Jr in CF. If Sizemore can stay healthy, a big IF, he could put up some nice numbers at the top o the Red Sox lineup this year).
Tommy Medica: Currently hitting .520 with 2 home runs and 13 hits, it appears Medica is a threat to Yonder Alonso and Kyle Blanks for the first base job in San Diego. He wasn’t slated to start the season in the majors, but his showing so far this spring could change that. Alonso has done nothing to impress on the field and while Blanks may have a big bat, saying his defense is something to be desired is an understatement. Medica hit .370 in his 4 years in NCAA, .295 in the minors and .290 during his brief call up last year. There is power potential here and if he continues to hit in AAA, he may force the Padres hand and be up sooner than later. Did I mention he only has 8 errors in his entire minor league career?