If Spring Training Stats Meant Something


After today’s game against the Giants, the Royals have ten spring training games left before opening day.  The usual spring platitudes have been going around, with some players drawing attention from their solid numbers.

Unfortunately, you can’t just transfer spring stats to the regular season.  A player who burns up Arizona in March has to keep it up in April.  And May.  And June, and so on.

But hypothetically, if you could just project seasonal production from spring stats, what might it look like for the Royals?

If spring training stats meant something:

- Mitch Maier would be a phenom.  In 2009, he put up a solid .856 OPS and had three homers in 64 at bats.  In 2010, he built upon his success by exploding for a .475/.530/.814/1.344 line with 11 extra base hits in 59 at bats.  So far in 2011, he’s expanded his legendary reign of terror to the tune of a 1.268 OPS.

How impressive is that?  His last two spring OPS numbers would rank in the top ten of all-time, where he would join names like Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

For his career, outside of spring, Maier has a career .678 OPS.

- Luis Mendoza would be a dominating bullpen option.  In 2011, he’s thrown 10.2 innings and given up two hits.  He has a 9/2 K/BB ratio for the Royals and hasn’t given up a run.

Just ignore that 8.43 ERA in the regular season.

- Nathan Adcock would start on opening day.

After a scoreless inning today, Adcock has thrown 9 scoreless innings.  The Rule 5 pick from the Pirates has been impressive and surprising.  His performance will earn him a spot on the roster rather than any kind of roster magic that might send him to the minors or back to Pittsburgh.

Before the 2007 season, Joakim Soria was 22 years old and Kansas City took him in the Rule 5 draft after he’d put up a 4.05 ERA in the minors.  Nathan Adcock turned 23 last month and has a 4.19 ERA in the minors.  Soria had 8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in the minors.  Adcock had 7.2 and 3.8 respectively.

I’m not suggesting the Royals have found another Joakim Soria, but Adcock has spent the last four seasons in A ball and Soria spent his minor league time in the low levels of the minors or the Mexican League.  Their development paths aren’t drastically different.

Then again, it’s just spring stats.  For the record, Soria had a 3.17 ERA in 17.1 spring innings during his first Royals spring training.

- Alex Gordon and Kila Ka’aihue are for real.

The two enigmas on the Royals – Gordon’s story is well known, and Kila’s journey is well-documented, too – both have an opportunity to wipe out all the questions of the last few years and announce their presence with authority.

Gordon promised to dominate in 2011, and after a slow start, he’s done so in Arizona, mashing three impressive homers and driving in 13 runs while putting up a .375/.528/.700/1.228 line.  Most impressive is he’s walked about a fourth of the time (though has struck out just as much).  If the adjustments to his swing are really the source of this spring’s mini-breakout, then the plate discipline will help him get better pitches to use that swing on.

Kila has been just as impressive, leading the team with four homers and is behind just Melky Cabrera in total bases.  With his first true opportunity, he could be a true breakout player.

These two are the counter-argument about spring trainings, as it’s within reason that they might continue their production, given their past performances at one point or another in their baseball lives.

But still, it’s only spring.  Gordon had an .885 OPS in 2008 spring training and a .974 in 2007.  How’d that work out for him?

- Melky Cabrera was a steal.

He leads the team in hits, runs scored, total bases and batting average.  All that for a cool $1.25 million.

Sorry Lorenzo Cain.  You’re headed to Omaha and it’s all those spring training stats’ fault.

- Jason Kendall won’t play in anything but intrasquad games.

This one, we can hope, Will Carry on into the regular season.

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Tags: AL Central Alex Gordon Baseball Jason Kendall Joakim Soria Kansas City Royals KC Kila Kaaihue Luis Mendoza Melky Cabrera MLB Nathan Adcock Royals