Nobody expects or wants their team to peak during spring training. Many players do head into spring training with hype and expectations surrounding them, though. They are expected to produce numbers that leave fans excited for the regular season and opposing teams at least mildly threatened.
Of course, or at least hopefully, these players will improve as the regular season approaches and the season heads toward October. For now, however, these players have had stunningly disappointing preseasons.
Jonathan Singleton is a 22-year-old first baseman for the Houston Astros. Heading into the season he wasn’t expected to change the entire look of this team’s offense, but it was certainly thought that he could help them out.
He played seven games for Houston in 2013 and held a .200 batting average. Certainly nothing to leave someone baffled by his offensive abilities, but with more experience typically comes more improved, steady numbers.
So far, Singleton has a .000 batting average.
In nine games and 15 at-bats, the young prospect hasn’t been able to do anything with his bat.
If the first baseman would like to secure a spot in the lineup, he needs to find his offensive abilities pretty soon. There is hardly room on any team for a batter with an average like his is now.
Singleton will likely (hopefully) settle down in the next few weeks and be able to bring up his average. For now, it is just a waiting game to figure out when that will happen.
Matt Moore, a starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, went into the postseason with a 3.29 ERA. The playoffs weren’t a shining spot in Moore’s season, ending with a 9.95 ERA for October.
Spring training has proved to be even worse. He now holds a 15.43 ERA in 2.1 innings pitched.
Moore was expected to be one of the Rays’ top pitchers this season, leading the bullpen throughout the season.
Joe Maddon, manager of the Rays, told MLB.com, “If I go on recent history, a tough spring training means an 8-0 start. I'm not really worried about that. He had the same kind of issues last year."
Moore isn’t at much risk for losing his position on the team at this point. The Rays know what he is capable of doing and are using this time to dust off the cobwebs and get him back into top form.
Yet the start of the season isn’t too far away. Here’s to hoping he’ll be back playing his game at the start of April.
Clayton Kershaw, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2011 and 2013, has proven himself to be consistently threatening over the seasons. Needless to say, there is hype that surrounds a returning Cy Young winner at the start of a new season.
Currently, though, Kershaw has a 10.00 ERA.
That is a shockingly high ERA for almost any pitcher in the major leagues and certainly not what one would expect from Kershaw.
He has already dropped his ERA from 18.00 before his latest start, so he’s showing signs of getting back to where he needs to be. Regardless, these are surprising numbers for the veteran pitcher.
The L.A. Dodgers’ left-hander will more than likely return as the ace in his starting rotation.
These few games by no means foreshadow the rest of the season, but it has definitely been a disappointing first couple of games for Kershaw.
J.A. Happ currently has an astonishing 40.50 ERA in spring training.
To make matters worse, it has been in 1.1 innings and two separate starts. He has baffled everyone with his incredibly high ERA.
In 18 games started in 2013, Happ held a 4.56 ERA. He was certainly expected to come into the season with a decent average and contribute to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Happ came off of an injury last season after behind hit in the head. He is currently battling a sore back, which is surely part of the problem surrounding his terrible start.
As Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB.com, “We expect J.A. to be in the rotation, but at the same time, the back's flared up on him twice. I just don't know. Look, if guys perform well and they force our hand, we'll take the best team."
Although Happ will surely bring his ERA down as the season approaches and he rests his back, this is tough to bounce back from. When a season starts off this poorly, it can get to the pitcher psychologically and make it more difficult to recover.