Mar
19

A peek at some Spring Training numbers

By

Nick Johnson has been a bright spot for the Yankees offensively this spring. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

We don’t spend much time on Spring Training results. They are largely irrelevant, and the teams themselves are looking more at process, strength and red flags than who wins, who loses and who compiles the biggest stats. Some games end with tied scores and others have a bottom of the 9th after the home team has already won so that a pitcher can get some extra work in. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where players who start often don’t even know who won or who lost.

With their win over Tampa Bay last night, the Yanks wrapped up their 15th Grapefruit League game of the year, and in 16 days, 10 hours and approximately 35 minutes from when this post is published, the team will face off against the Red Sox in a game that counts. So at Spring Training’s halfway point, let’s have some fun with numbers.

NJ leading the way

Nick Johnson, the man atop this post who was brought back to the Bronx to the be the OBP machine at DH, has led the team offensively so far. In 18 ABs, he’s hitting .389/.478/1.000 with three home runs, a pair of doubles and four walks. Robinson Cano is having himself a nifty spring as well with a .400/.444/.520 triple slash line in 25 ABs, and Mark Teixeira is right there with him. The switch-hitting first baseman sports a .333/.417/.619 line in 21 ABs.

Of those not likely to make the team, Colin Curtis leads the way. He has just ten at-bats this spring, but two of them have resulted in three-run home runs. His seven RBIs lead all Yankees, and the 25-year-old has certainly flashed some offense this month. Jon Weber is 8 for 15, and Kevin Russo is 6 for 17. Juan Miranda, auditioning for a trade or a bench spot, is just 4 for 23.

The guys fighting for spots and playing time are faring a bit worse. Brett Gardner has four walks but is just six for 25. Jamie Hoffmann has three hits in 21 ABs but has just one strike out. At least he’s making contact. Randy Winn is four for 21 with six K’s, and all four of his hits were singles. Spring Training invitee Marcus Thames is three for 21 with seven whiffs.

Aceves strong in the early going

For the Yankee hurlers, Alfredo Aceves has led the way. He has tossed a team-high 10 innings and has allowed just one run on three hits. He hasn’t issued a free pass and has struck out five. He should again turn out a solid season from the pen as he morphs into this generation’s Ramiro Mendoza.

Beyond Aceves, Javier Vazquez has turned in an admirable spring as well. In three outings, he has unsurprisingly surrendered three home runs, but he has struck out nine while walking just three in eight innings. If he can maintain that K:BB ratio, he’ll be just fine this summer. Sergio Mitre, another year removed from Tommy John surgery, has impressed as well. In nine innings, he has surrendered three runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven. Mark Melancon — 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K — remains a sleeper candidate for the bullpen.

The guys who have struggled on the mound include some big names. CC Sabathia sports an ERA north of 8.00 right now, and Joba Chamberlain, coming off of a strong outing on Wednesday, has allowed 12 in 6.2 innings with a K:BB ratio of 5:7. Jonathan Albaladejo holds the title for worst of camp though. In 2 innings, he has given up 15 hits and 10 earned runs.

It’s tempting to draw conclusions from this numbers, but there’s nothing much here. Players have too few at-bats, and pitchers are working to get a feel for pitchers. As long as no one gets hurt, the results are secondary. We’ll worry about the results in April.

Photo credits: Colin Curtis via AP Photo/Brian Blanco. Alfredo Aceves via AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar.

Categories : Spring Training

52 Comments»

  1. Steve H says:

    I know Tex is a historically slow starter in the regular season, has he generally been poor in spring training as well?

    If not, maybe he just hits better in warm weather. He always struggles early, heats up in the summer and struggled in October. I know that October was an extremely SSS, so you can really throw that out, but if he always hits well in ST before slumping in April, weather could have something to do with it.

    • CountryClub says:

      I don’t know about his whole carrer, but he had a hot Spring last yr too.

    • Chris says:

      Looking at his career splits, September has been his best month. His OPS is 1.006 in September compared to .781 in April. This may be impacted by the fact that he played in Texas/LA/Atlanta until last season, but even in 2009 he had a 1.056 OPS in September.

      Also, his 2008 post-season numbers were great.

  2. The guys fighting for spots and playing time are faring a bit worse. Brett Gardner has four walks but is just six for 25. Jamie Hoffmann has three hits in 21 ABs but has just one strike out. At least he’s making contact. Randy Winn is four for 21 with six K’s, and all four of his hits were singles. Spring Training invitee Marcus Thames is three for 21 with seven whiffs.

    Hmmm… if only there was a talented-but-dangerously-mercurial 25 year old high-ceiling toolsy outfielder who was recently released from his contract that we could now sign for a low-risk/high-reward league minimum deal to join that fivesome in camp and compete for that roster spot…

    If only…

  3. Yankee spring training storylines:
    1.) Who wins the 5th starter spot? Looks like Joba, Hughes still has an outside shot.
    2.) Who’s the 25th man/5th outfielder? Both Thames and Hoffmann have been subpar at the plate; I’d imagine that Hoffmann’s youth (i.e. future years under team control) and defense give him the tiebreaker edge, so unless Thames starts hitting, Hoff probably gets that last spot.

    Only remaining question, then:

    3.) Can we trade one of the two out-of-options bullpen longmen Mitre/Gaudin to clear a spot on the pitching staff to be able to keep all three of Joba/Hughes/Aceves on the big league club?

    Top story on MLBTR:

    D’Backs Looking For Rotation Depth
    A National League executive tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the D’Backs are exploring trades for rotation depth. Brandon Webb is recovering from a shoulder injury, so the D’Backs have some concern about their starting five. Right now, that group consists of Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson and some combination of Ian Kennedy, Billy Buckner, Kevin Mulvey and Rodrigo Lopez.
    Sherman says the Yankees are “almost certain” to trade Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before the season starts.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....depth.html

    Mitre to the D-Bags for a non-40-man mid-minors SP or OF prospect? Any idea what we could get from their system? With Webb the sinkermaster on the club, I could actually see them having an appreciation for Mitre’s skills.

    • CountryClub says:

      Tino said last night that the scouts he’s talked to have been very high on Mitre this spring. But he could have been just blowing smoke.

      • I actually wonder if Mitre’s moved past Gaudin in the org’s view. He’s looked very good, and probably has a slightly higher upside than Gaudin. Mitre also is cheaper and doesn’t have an issue with lefties.

        Perhaps we try to keep Mitre and trade Gaudin instead. The big thing in Gaudin’s favor, though, is that he’s demonstrated an ability to warm up quickly and throw situational relief… Mitre may not be able to do that. We don’t know yet.

        • I think Gaudin’s upside is a bit higher. He can miss bats, fill both a starting and relieving role, and he’s also younger. To boot, he’s not recovering–though I doubt the term still applies to SM–from major surgery.

          But, then again, I have a deep, possibly unfounded hate for Mitre.

      • Tampa Yankee says:

        what the hell, I’ve tried to post 2 comments stating just this then swapping Hoffman and Melky to finally complete the IPK/Melky for Pujols deal before the Phillies trade for him, but they didn’t show up!

        • Tampa Yankee says:

          Let me try again…

          Maybe we can trade Mitre to the D’Backs for IPK back. Then trade Hoffman to the Braves for Melky. AND then finally complete the IPK & Melky for Pujols trade before the Phillies offer Howard to the Cards because we all know that once the Phillies offer Howard there is no chance the CArds say no because Howard is a home town boy and NO ONE can say no to asinine trade proposals!

          /beating dead horse’d
          /never gets old tough’d

      • Heh.

        Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes: Hey, Brian, we’re looking for some starting pitching depth. Interested in making a deal?
        Cashmeezy: Sure.
        Byrnes: What do you want for Sergio Mitre?
        Cashmeezy: Brandon Webb.
        Byrnes: Uh, no, we’re looking to add a starter, not swap a starter.
        Cashmeezy: Ah, okay. I’ll take Brandon Webb.
        Byrnes: No, maybe I’m not making myself clear. You can’t have Webb, we don’t want to give away a starting pitcher in a deal for Mitre. Webb’s off limits.
        Cashmeezy: Oh, okay. I’ll take Edwin Jackson, then.
        Byrnes: No, no starting pitchers.
        Cashmeezy: No Webb and no Jackson? Then I’ll take Kennedy.
        Byrnes: Are you just fucking with me, Brian?
        Cashmeezy: I’ll take Brandon Webb. That’s my final offer, numbnuts.

        … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

    • Chris says:

      3.) Can we trade one of the two out-of-options bullpen longmen Mitre/Gaudin to clear a spot on the pitching staff to be able to keep all three of Joba/Hughes/Aceves on the big league club?

      There really isn’t any need to do this during Spring Training. Send one of those 3 down to Scranton to start the season, and then call them up when someone gets hurt or sucks. If that never happens, you can always trade one of the bullpen arms (Gaudin/Mitre) in May or June. That option would also probably get better value in return as teams are more likely to trust regular season performance than spring training.

  4. Jim in Bingo says:

    I’m for giving Hoffmann the last outfielder spot.

    I wonder if Curtis can keep this up in Scranton this year. He’s looked very good at the plate in the games I’ve seen. Maybe the adjustments they’ve made with him that paid off in the Fall League are for real? Then again his minor league numbers are exactly dazzling.

  5. I don’t get the love for Nick Johnson. Never been a power hitter. Who cares about OBP. If its so important, why isn’t it on the scoreboard. This team needs PROVEN WINNERS. Not statheads. This isn’t fantasy baseball, oK? This isn’t played on a computer. This is a real game where things like HEART and determination actually count for something.

    Get real.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.