Did the Royals Bring Offensive Momentum from Spring Training?


Two weeks ago, the Royals were wrapping up their Cactus League Championship on the backs of their offense. They led both spring training leagues in nearly every offensive category, including runs, batting average, and OPS, among others. It’s been said many, many times that spring training stats are meaningless, but some people may feel that a strong spring can give a player some momentum and confidence leading into the regular season.

In thinking about this, I decided to take a look at the Royals’ spring training stats to see if the hitters were able to carry some of their success in Arizona with them.

Here are the numbers from spring training for all the Royals’ major league hitters, plus a few minor leaguers:

And here are the stats from the regular season thus far:

1CSalvador Perez731301610000015.
21BEric Hosmer*723183610031043.333.478.389.867
32BChris Getz*722215621040003.286.286.476.762
4SSAlcides Escobar731284730143033.250.323.464.787
53BMike Moustakas*626241520000024.
6LFAlex Gordon*7312971131060025.379.419.552.971
7CFLorenzo Cain624203510020126.250.333.300.633
8RFJeff Francoeur728274820001013.296.321.370.692
9DHBilly Butler726222500190043.227.346.364.710
10UTJarrod Dyson*6551110011100.200.200.400.600
11IFMiguel Tejada3541210020010.500.600.7501.350
12IFElliot Johnson#3430100010001.333.333.333.667

Let’s start with the guys who had terrific springs. Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Chris Getz, Lorenzo Cain, and Eric Hosmer all had an OPS of 1.000 or higher in Arizona. Of those players, Hosmer, Gordon, and Getz are the only ones with regular season OPS of .750 or higher. Getz is already nearly a quarter of the way to his extra base hit total from 2012, with 3. Gordon, who had the best spring training, is off to the best start so far with 11 hits in his first 7 games. Moose and Cain have both struggled, although they have managed to take a couple of walks each.

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

No regular players really struggled that much in spring training, although Alcides Escobar had the lowest OPS at .720. As you know, he hit the Royals’ first home run this season, because why wouldn’t he? He’s also walked in 3 of his first 31 plate appearances after only walking 4 times in 21 games in spring training.

Salvador Perez has had a rough first week after putting up a .963 OPS in Arizona. Also of note: Perez has struck out 5 times in his first 7 games. He struck out just 8 times total in 19 spring training games.

The only other regular players, Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur, had strong, yet unremarkable spring training numbers, and both have an OPS of roughly .700 thus far.

In summary:

Hosmer, Gordon, and Getz were able to start the season well after performing at high levels in spring training. Escobar has hit well after a decent spring training. Perez, Cain, and Moose have all struggled after crushing pitching in Arizona. Butler and Francoeur are underperforming their spring numbers, although their dropoffs aren’t as drastic as the others’.

So, what have we learned?

Basically, nothing.

The results are kind of all over the place. Some guys were able to sustain success, while others fell off, and one player’s stats improved after the regular season started, proving yet again that spring training stats are essentially meaningless. As much as we’d all like to think otherwise, the fact that it’s such a small sample size, and that momentum isn’t as much of a factor in baseball as it is in other sports, means that we just can’t draw any real, meaningful conclusions from spring training numbers.