How much emphasis do you put on player performances during spring training? At the start of spring training I tell myself to ignore the results…ignore the guys hitting home runs all over the place, ignore the pitchers throwing shutouts for their two innings work, ignore the….you get it. Then every year I peek at the data, just a little, and then the closer to opening day I look a little harder and see if I can discern who is ripe for a great year and who has isn’t. Good grief, is that dumb or what?
Why bring this up? Because this is the time of year when we start craving data, is why. We’ve been starved for player input all winter. Finally, the Rotoworlds of the Internet are filling our heads with daily reports of who’s knocking the stuffing out of the ball and who is throwing lights out. This is what we’ve been waiting for. We are finally getting our fix. “He hit two home runs today, that guy had three doubles, so and so is now batting .450, poor Joe is now 0-8 so you better give up on him, and old Bob gave up five runs today so he’s toast.”
Darn it. None of this matters. It’s practice. The fences in some of these stadiums are a notch above little league. The ball carries in Arizona like it’s been shot out of a cannon. And half these performances are against guys who aren’t anywhere near the quality they’ll face during the season. We have to temper all of these results with some common sense.
Yet we look. And we move players around on our lists in part based on what we read and see happening in these spring training games. Inevitably what happens around May is that the “real” player shows up and performs the way he usually performs. And then we kick ourselves because the guys we moved up are doing bad and the guys we moved down are doing well. Grrr….
Stick to the plan. Base your rankings on proven yearly data especially for veterans. The longer they’ve been a veteran the more unlikely it is that spring training matters to them. They are just getting in shape. We would spend our time wiser if we studied previous years’ performances rather than reading that the Tigers hit 9 home runs today.
“Gee, I wonder if I can still make a trade for Ryan Raburn?”