Do Pitching Stats Matter in Spring Training?

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Do Pitching Stats Matter in Spring Training?
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FANTASY BASEBALL INSIDERS

One common myth about spring training is that it actually matters. Now don’t get me wrong, the live game action provides valuable experience for young prospects and is useful to players as they battle back from injury. Even the grizzled veterans need time each spring to get back into the groove.

However, if you’re using pitcher’s spring training stats to find hints at regular season success, you’re going to get burned.

MLB Network recently aired a segment on this topic, and the findings include information every fantasy baseball manager should be aware of. The following includes the top-10 ERA's from last spring. The first two columns list the pitcher’s innings pitched total and ERA during exhibition play. The third and fourth columns reveal their regular season totals. (Spring statistics courtesy of ESPN.com)

 

PLAYER SPRING IP SPRING ERA REG. REASON IP REG. SEASON ERA
Edinson Volquez 22 2/3 1.19 49 2/3 4.35
Brian Moehler 25 1.44 154 2/3 5.49
Chris Carpenter 23 2/3 1.52 192 2/3 2.24
Paul Maholm 23 2/3 1.52 194 2/3 4.44
Micah Owings 23 2/3 1.52 119 2/3 5.34
David Purcey 23 1/3 1.54 48 6.19
Johnny Cueto 23 1.57 171 1/3 4.41
Glen Perkins 26 1.73 96 1/3 5.89
Joel Pineiro 25 1.80 214 3.49
Chris Jakubauskas 21 2/3 2.08 93 5.32

 

Of the players listed above, only Chris Carpenter and Joel Pineiro carried their spring success into the summer months. Not coincidentally, the two St. Louis Cardinals starters are the only pitchers from this list to have posted more than one season of 200-plus innings and a sub-4.00 ERA.

Surprisingly enough, this works both ways. In fact, three of the top-five leaders in ERA last season failed to post stellar numbers in the spring.

 

PLAYER SPRING IP SPRING ERA REG. REASON IP REG. SEASON ERA
Tim Lincecum 22 1/3 4.03 225 1/3 2.48
Zack Greinke 28 1/3 9.21 229 1/3 2.16
Felix Hernandez 8 10.13 238 2/3 2.49

 

Bottom line: a pitcher’s spring training stats are typically not a good indication of their upcoming regular season production. If you’re trying to find subtle clues that may suggest upcoming success, stick to these basic factors: pedigree, velocity, pure stuff (K/9), control (BB/9), and perhaps the most valuable of all, the eye test.

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