Opening Day is just around the corner and it is almost time for the games and the statistics to actually count. However, spring training performances should not be completely discounted.
Some players put up great numbers during the spring. They would be deserving of awards if it was the regular season.
Let's hand out some Rookie of the Year awards (for players in their first MLB spring training), Cy Young awards and MVP awards.
Spring Stats: 3-1, 0.90 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 20 innings
Following 24 strong starts at the Double-A level in 2012, Brandon Maurer was given a chance to come to major league spring training to try to compete for a job. He certainly made the most of the opportunity.
Maurer has been lights-out for the Mariners all spring and is certainly deserving of a spot. However, it is not yet known if he will break camp with the team.
Even if he doesn't, he has gained a lot more attention this spring. Based on reports from U.S.S. Mariner via Seattle Post-Intelligencer, chances are looking good that Maurer will find himself in the majors to begin the year.
Spring Stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 15 K, 1 BB (11.2 innings)
Michael Wacha has already provided an encore performance following his domination of the minor leagues after he was drafted last year. Wacha looked like he had the makings of an elite pitcher this spring.
Opposing hitters were consistently fooled by Wacha during the five appearances that he made this spring. The St. Louis Cardinals may very well be forced to speed up their timetable for Wacha based on the way that he has performed.
Spring Stats: 3-0, 0.90 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 16 K, 4 BB (20 innings)
One of the reasons that the Boston Red Sox struggled last season was the poor performance of Jon Lester. After winning at least 15 games for four consecutive seasons while posting a sub-3.50 ERA, Lester went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 2012.
This spring has made it seem like last season was a complete fluke. Lester has been pitching like the player that finished fourth in the Cy Young voting in 2010. He could perform better than that this season if he can keep up his spring training performance.
Spring Stats: 3-1, 1.04 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 35 K, 9 BB (26 innings)
Regarded as an elite prospect entering 2012, it is safe to say that last season was a major disappointment for Atlanta Braves' pitcher Julio Teheran. It now appears that Teheran is ready to dominate the major leagues after the Atlanta Braves adjusted his mechanics (h/t Mike Rosenbaum of Bleacher Report).
Teheran has looked like the pitcher that the Braves expected him to be so far this spring. He will play a big role in their postseason chances this year.
Spring Stats: .361/.406/.656, 16 R, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 3 SB (61 at-bats)
Despite the fact that he had never played above Double-A, the Minnesota Twins had Aaron Hicks in the competition for their starting center field job this spring.
After dominating spring training, Hicks was named as the Opening Day starter (h/t Associated Press via Yahoo Sports). He certainly deserves that opportunity based on the way that he performed at the plate and in the field this spring. Hicks demonstrated why he is considered to be a five-tool talent.
Spring Stats: .433/.460/.900, 13 R, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 2 SB (60 at-bats)
During the 2012 regular season, Brandon Belt accumulated more than 400 plate appearances for the San Francisco Giants and yet only slugged seven home runs despite the power that he had displayed in the minor leagues.
Belt got to that number much more quickly this year, albeit in spring training. To go along with his seven spring home runs, Belt has been incredibly difficult to get out and has reached base nearly every other time that he has stepped to the plate.
That is a performance worthy of an MVP award.