The ineffable meaninglessness of spring training stats

Atlanta Braves Stats — Sortable Statistics | braves.com: Stats.

I’ve said this before, but not this year, so here goes… Spring training statistics are nearly worthless. First, the sample sizes are so small — the Melky leads the Braves with 34 AB, Hudson with 14 innings — that the whole of spring training is maybe the equivalent of two weeks’ worth of regular season play. Big whoop. I saw Jeff Francoeur walk five times in two weeks once.

Second, the quality of competition is extremely variable, even within a game — you start out facing basically the two-time pennant-winning Phillies, and wind up facing basically the 2009 Lehigh Valley IronPigs. If Brooks Conrad gets two plate appearances against Roy Halladay and Joe Thurston gets two against David Herndon and Antonio Bastardo, who do you think has the advantage?

Don’t speak too soon… it doesn’t seem to be happening as much this year, but another problem is that established pitchers are mostly trying to get into shape, and therefore throwing mostly fastballs, which are easier to control and more likely to be strikes. Spring training stats tend to disappear after the season (another sign that they’re meaningless) but I once saw Chipper’s, and his career ST isolated on-base (OBP – AVG) was less than half his career regular season number. A result of this is that some players who can’t hit breaking balls often hit a lot better in spring training than they really should. Travis Wilson almost made the team one year before cooler heads prevailed, and he was a former softball player who could no more hit a slider than he could fly to the moon, with the caveat that it’s possible that one day New Zealand will get a space program.

So anyway, I think it’s possible that scouts can get something from spring training, but there’s no real value to me, a person who when he tried looking at minor leaguers decided that Odalis Perez would be a superstar, and so concentrates on stats. There’s just not a lot there.

More importantly, it’s dumb to let spring training “performance” decide who will make the team. The good news is that for the Braves it’s mostly around the fringes that this is happening — basically the last two or three spots in the bullpen, and the last spot on the bench. And it really doesn’t matter if Conrad or Thurston makes the team, because they’re practically the same player. But there are times when it does matter.

122 thoughts on “The ineffable meaninglessness of spring training stats”

  1. Mac,

    I understand everything you just said. My question is, how then, do you select the last few spots on the roster? Some kind of variation of the “eyeball” test? Just arbitrarily deciding before spring training starts doesn’t seem a much better solution.

  2. From the previous, Glaus might be the best FA signing if he plays in say, 130 games. I don’t think anyone doubts he can still hit, it’s a question of staying healthy enough to do so.

  3. It’s the hyperlink “some players who can’t hit breaking balls.” It took me a second to find it, too, but it’s there.

  4. #3, not so fast. Glaus has yet to hit a homerun, if I’m not mistaken. Against weak ST pitching, that is. And his AVG is meaningless, as we’ve just learned.

  5. Glaus has been taking good ABs and looks healthy, these things are more important to me than the results, like mac said sample size and whatnot. I am concerned about Nate Moclouth on the other hand however, if he really is having eye problems that could be a bad omen, on the other hand he could “just be adjusting to his new contact lenses.”

  6. Mac, after what Jeffy did to us for four years, there is no such thing as an unprovoked attack.

    Seriously, I do have one thing I’d like to note about the ST stats: the Braves’ walk numbers look good both ways- they’ve drawn by far the most walks of any team, and only Texas has walked fewer batters per game. I think there’s a bit more significance to this than the stats of any indiviudal, due to the larger sample size, and I choose to take this as a good sign. I hope it continues and that everyone learns that good things happen when the pitchers throw your pitch (and bad things when pitchers are forced to throw other people’s pitches).

  7. Nice that they’re winning. Nice that they’re beating up on the IronPigs. Nice that they’re getting good individual performances. Still, April 5 vs the Cubbies can’t come soon enough.

    Re: Frenchy
    I love hearing the Met talk on the radio—everyone describes Francouer as “solid.” Nobody’s worried about him. Granted, if he has an 836 OPS for a whole year, that would be plenty solid. But that ain’t gonna happen.

    Re: Hoops
    I have Villanova in my Final 4, but I’m finding myself rooting against them today & for Saint Mary’s, my new favorite team.

  8. Well, I am reasonably sure that Jeffy’s not a liquid or gas, so he’s solid in that sense…

    Me, I’m adopting Ohio as my favorite. My bracket’s shot to hell anyway.

  9. Troy Glaus has always hit when healthy.
    Troy Glaus will only play in 130+ games if he is healthy.

    QED, the odds are pretty good that if Glaus plays in 130+ games, he will hit more than enough to justify his signing and then some.

  10. Nova might have gotten the calls against Robert Morris, but Saint Mary’s big man is getting away with murder today.

  11. i understand the uselessness of ST stats, however, it’s still baseball and still worth talking about. i get kind of annoyed by the snubnosed attitude that this blog has when discussing spring training. isnt baseball what this blog is supposed to be about?

    that being said, this still is my favorite blog on the web. i’m just expressing my frustration that almost everyone on this blog (aside from me, csg, and a few others) completely ignore any baseball that is not related to the regular season or postseason (winter leages, spring training, etc…).

  12. ryan, I think you are conflating “ignoring ST baseball” with “not seeing it the same way ryan c does”. I love ST, AFL, any kind baseball, as do most of the posters here I think. I just value the results in a predictive sense way differently than you do. Hardly the same thing as “ignoring” non-regular season baseball.

  13. If I read another article on the AJC with the title, “Lowe dominates for five strong innings” or “Lowe has the look of a winner”, I’m going to puke. The guy is going to be serviceable this year, but it’s clear he’s on the decline; to what degree is uncertain. Then again, I guess the headline, “Lowe has improved change-up” is much more catchy than “Lowe likely to continue decline but Braves unsure to what degree.”

  14. I have to keep on going back to the fact that spring training means nothing, but I’m interested to know if anyone here who’s scouted McLouth this spring (or knows someone who has) is concerned about him. I mean 1 for 35 with 3 walks and 14 Ks is getting into Greg Norton territory.

  15. Just finished my fantasy draft. Was able to contain myself and only picked four Braves: McCann, Hanson, Heyward, and McClouth. I might have reached on Heyward, but I really couldn’t help myself.

  16. Ugh, lost my job yesterday. I live in the Chattanooga area and have a degree in communications/PR. If anyone is hiring or knows of anyone, hit me up!We will even move. Or if anyone has any advice…

    I guess I could sweep my barber’s floor, ha ha ha!

  17. Sorry to hear it, Smitty. Letting everybody know is a good way to start. Get the network ball rolling.

    22 — I drafted last night and ended up with more Braves than I expected. 12 team mix, 27 deep on the rosters. I got Hudson and Wagner, as I expected. When Hanson happened to be available in a reasonable spot, I couldn’t pass him up. Chipper was hanging around too long, so I took a shot. And I indulged on Heyward, just for fun. I really only expected to have 2-3.

    I might even end up picking up Glaus to back up Papi. I’m not even sure which is the bigger question mark…

  18. I enjoy watching Northern Iowa play. If VU had ball movement like that…

    Mac, Bama was favored in this series — these results are as expected.

  19. As for my fantasy auction today, I got one Brave: Nate McLouth, at $11. Meh.

    I imagine I’ll get a few more at the auction for my other, NL-only league.

  20. Sorry to see you lost your job, Smitty. I know it’s a miserable time to be unemployed. Best of luck to you and your family!

  21. spike,
    that’s not it at all…
    there have been 19 spring games thus far and some pretty interesting things to talk about, yet there is hardly anyone discussing. furthermore, when someone does try to strike up a conversation about the games, it gets passed over by things non-braves related because spring training “stats” are useless.

    adding to that, we have the #1 prospect in baseball competing for a job this spring and yet hardly any time is spent discussing what he’s done thus far…

    am i alone in thinking that this is strange?

  22. What do you mean? Everybody’s talking about Heyward. I haven’t done posts, but that’s largely because my posts have all been written in advance.

  23. Thanks for the concern. If anyone had advice/ pointers shoot me an email, Bsmith9215@gmail.com

    I am thinking of going to spring training and try to make the team as a backup outfielder/ Chipper’s bat boy.

  24. So BYU is slow, soft, little, and doesn’t play defense. Surprise. Maybe next year, right?

    BYU’s sixth man (Tavenari) drives me nuts. I was complaining about how he shoots the ball any time he touches it within 50 feet. My wife — so he’s kinda like Francoeur, swinging at anything. Bwahaha.

  25. 34—Feel free to start your own blog, where you can talk about everything you wanna talk about. Or, you could ignore the posts here that you wanna ignore, as some folks are apparently doing to yours. Complaining about what everyone is and isn’t talking about on this blog seems kinda pointless.

  26. 37—At least your team appeared motivated to play in March! Now, just jump on the Ali “Elephant Nuts” Farokhmanesh bandwagon with me!

  27. There was a communications position posted here in Douglasville, GA a couple of weeks ago (if it falls through and gets posted again I’ll try to update); the only thing posted right now is a Workforce Management position (maybe you could work the statistical analysis angle). Best of luck.

    http://www.greystonepower.com/Careers.asp

  28. @38
    see…this is the reason i should have kept my mouth shut. as pointless as my argument might be, the suggestion to go create my own blog is equally as childish. i started my original post by saying this is my favorite blog on the net. starting my own blog is not an option nor would it ever be as good as this one.

    i’ve been keeping up and posting spring stats on here and mac puts up this blog which is titled, “the ineffable meaninglessness of spring training stats”. i felt like it was a shot at my posts, therefore i defended myself.

  29. Agreed that spring training stats are “nearly worthless” – but it seems to me that Heyward’s spring training performance has meaningfully altered his MLB call-up date. Before ST, I would have guessed the Braves were overwhelmingly likely to wait until June to call up Heyward, and almost no chance he would be with the Braves on Opening Day. Now, seems very likely Heyward be here to start the season, and at worst will be in AAA for two weeks (no chance Braves wait until June).

    Speaking of Heyward – I think he is going to be a great player and will perform well from an early age (due to his advanced plate discipline). That said, it would be totally idiotic if they did not leave him down in AAA for 2 weeks, Longoria-style. Failure to do that has/well cost the Giants dearly with Lincecum. The economics are just so drastically in favor of delaying Heyward’s FA years, and the cost (10 games or so) is minimal.

  30. adding to the last point, and i will stop being a stubborn blogger, is that the “stats talk” is getting a little out of hand. in the past few years, i’ve learned that spring stats are useless, one month stats are too small of a sample size, 1/2 a year of stats are too small of a sample size,and a year’s worth of stats are too small of a sample size. now, it has to be atleast 3 years worth of stats to mean anything.

    while i understand the reasoning, it shouldnt be so frowned upon to discuss results no matter the sample size.

  31. smitty,
    although i’m not suggesting moving there, there are currently a lot of PR jobs in new orleans.

  32. Again, you’re trying to tell everyone what to talk about and what not to talk about — but it’s not your blog, so it comes across as…pointless. (And self-absorbed, insofar as you’re suggesting that Mac would make a long post like this as nothing more than a passive-aggressive “counter” to your focus on Spring stats.)

    Not once has anyone asked you to cease posting your own attempts at statistical analysis or prospect-watching — again, you can just ignore what you don’t like. As ububba always says: PgDn is a handy tool.

  33. So, um, I feel that it’s up to me to steer this blog back to where it needs to be:

    Frenchy Hate.

  34. my “childish” remark was a uncalled for and i apologize. i should know better.

    i do understand that this is a braves blog that discusses things non-braves related and i should respect that. i’m just excited. sorry for the rudeness.

  35. FWIW, I’m excited, too! I’m just really ready for the regular season to start.

    And Jeff Francoeur sucks.

  36. I don’t want Frenchy to fail, but I sure as hell don’t want to see him succeed. Here’s to another long and painful year for Met fans.

  37. Apparently, Moylan started today’s game vs. the Cards. Is there something wrong (again) with JJ? He was scheduled to start if I’m not mistaken.

  38. The ‘Cuse is looking scary.

    So is, apparently, McLouth. I can’t imagine he’s morphing into Craig Wilson or anything, but some tiny concern there. And is it possible that Melky = Nate Insurance?

    Smitty,
    My heart goes out to you. It’s a tough climate. Wish I had some leads, but I have friends with similar skills in similar situations.

    Have faith in yourself & get back after it. As crazy as it might sound, sometimes these situations create new & better opportunities. Best of luck & here’s hoping the Vols offer a degree of comfort. (Did I just say that?)

  39. any landscapers here? trying to figure out what type of sod to lay in a very shaded area, bermuda just isnt growing

  40. pretty big game in BHAM on tuesday. Not much of a chance UAB will ever get UNC to come play at Bartow ever again

  41. Wow, it looks like Cornell’s gonna win.

    The last time I remember an Ivy League school making the Final 4, it was Penn. Their reward? They got to play Magic Johnson.

    If I recall correctly, the halftime score was 50-17.

  42. Do any of you live in the Nashville area? Am trying to figure out what is best/cheapest way to get Braves games here beyond the meager offerings on Fox Sports South (I currently have Comcast cable TV). I had MLB.TV but they black out Braves games in this part of TN. And MLB Extra Innings is too expensive. I’m thinking of DirecTV but not sure how many games I’d actually get there as compared to cable…

  43. The state of Minnesota just exhaled. Glad to see he won’t be a teammate of Texiera’s!

    Cornell just schooled Wisconsin. Lay-up after lay-up. Once again the also-rans of big conferences show why they weren’t any good in the first place, and the NCAA seriously wants to expand to 96 teams, so the 8th and 9th place teams in the Big 10, Big 12, SEC, and ACC can play another game?

    BTW—3 hours til the season premier of Breaking Bad on AMC. If you haven’t seen this show, get on board! Great stuff!

  44. That Mauer deal seems worrisome, particularly the full no-trade. Mauer is a special player, no question, but he’s about to be a third of their payroll for the next decade, and he’s a very tall catcher who’s had his share of leg problems. I hope this works out for them, but I’m not sure that there has ever been an 8-year contract with a full no-trade clause that wasn’t eventually regretted.

    Oh my goodness — what an awesome shot to end the Michigan State game.

  45. @58, csg,

    It depends on where you are. St. Augustine grass grows well (and best) in shaded areas; however, I don’t think it will work much north of ATL.

    Most states have a “co-operative extension service” that maintains offices in most counties. The old “county agent” (now, I believe, extension agent or extension specialist) is a great source of info on lawns and shrubs.

  46. good/bad about the Mauer deal….

    good – he isnt going to be a Yank for a long long time

    bad – McCann will be looking for a deal like this one in the near future

  47. cliff, Im here in Bham…its always hot and my trees hate letting bermuda grow under them. Would St Augustine be able to handle the heat and the shade? What would happen if it was placed right up nextr to bermuda…does one overtake the other?

  48. McCann will be looking for a deal like this one in the near future

    I love me some McCann, but he’ll need to take a step forward like Mauer’s 2009 before he can get into that tax bracket.

  49. Just got back from a weekend in Biloxi, was kinda hoping to hear a confirmation about where Heyward was starting the season. Heres hoping hes down for those two weeks.

    Stayed at the Beau Rivage Resort, pretty damn good place. Hit up a few other casinos and only ended the weekend down 200! I call that a success.

  50. @57 Why not landscape with shade plants instead? Hostas, ferns, liriope, vinca, etc, do very well in the hot shade of the south and require little maintenance once established.

  51. urlhix – Ive got some of those plants in natural areas, but around those is where Im struggling to grow grass

  52. Ah, I see. Walter Reeves says Fescue is better than Bermuda for shade, so that might work for you in Alabama.

    I would just expand the pine straw island and add more hostas (but they are my favorite shade plant so…)

    Got any pix of the spot?

  53. #76 – I dont at the moment, but could take some and email them

    braves news….

    The Hanshin Tigers are looking at three major league pitchers to bolster their rotation, according to a report from Sports Hochi passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The report lists Jo-Jo Reyes, Eric Stults, and Seth McClung as possibilities. You may recall that another Japanese club, the Chiba Lotte Marines, has previously shown interest in Stults.

  54. MLB can’t trade players with the NPB can they – you can only sell their rights? Surely we’d want to get a body back for Jo-Jo?

  55. According to DOB, McLouth had three hits in 4 AB in his Minor League game, and he “hit the ball hard”. I agree that ST stats don’t mean much, but I can’t help feeling a little relieved.

    On a second thought, I felt the same relief when Frenchy “hit the ball hard” in his trip to the Minors…

  56. Smitty;
    Right now you have a clear view of the iceberg–you can’t help but wonder what beneath.
    But if anyone was born to hook up with a baseball organization; its’ you! You’re one of the funniest guys here. You’d be great at it!

    And it seems you know a good barber…

  57. Nashville Braves fan.

    I have the HD/DVR plan with DirecTV and I get all the braves games. They always offer a great first year rate, then get you the second year. I get all the games, but as of right now, the Braves Channel (ie the Peachtree feed) is not in HD.

    You can probably call DirecTV or look their website for information. You may can do better than my package.

    to everyone:

    What does the Mauer deal do to the market for McCann when his team friendly deal is up in a couple of years????

  58. @83-

    I think Mauer is a slight notch above McCann, but the Mauer deal certainly sets the market for McCann’s deal. I think he will sign for $15 million per in his next deal, not necessarily with the Braves.

  59. Before 2009, Mauer was a slight notch ahead of McCann — because for all his awesomeness Joe hadn’t tapped into all his power, and he had a more troublesome injury history. Then McCann got eye problems (a red flag, even if manageable) and Mauer nuked the world, and became the only conceivable rival to Pujols as best player in the game. Now, Mauer’s leaps and bounds past Brian, even while Brian’s the best catcher in the NL and second-best in the game.

    I’m hoping that the Braves can work out an extension with Brian before 2013, though — they have very good relations with his agent, our old friend B.B. Abbott, who has helped them extend Chipper for so many years.

  60. Thanks, Mac. I’ve always said that the ’93, ’97 & ’98 teams might’ve been the best ones we ever had.

    A few weeks ago Spike & I were kicking around Braves lore over some BBQ and we both agreed that the post-season flameouts in ’97 & ’98 teams still really stung. (Kevin Brown, %&$#@!. And that umpire, too.)

    Like ’93, great opportunities. Dunno if we’d have beaten the Yanks in ’98, but I woulda loved the chance.

    That Jaffe story also mentions one of my all-time favorite teams to play in APBA—the 1922 St. Louis Browns.

    As he notes, they had historically good pitching, but they also hit .310 as a team. Not a lotta power, but scads of hits. Plus, this guy named George Sisler batted .420.

    And they lost the pennant by 1 game to the Yankees.

  61. …and became the only conceivable rival to Pujols as best player in the game.

    I think Chase Utley and especially Hanley Ramirez are also in the discussion.

  62. I might give you Hanley in the outskirts of the discussion, but can’t conceive of Utley making the short list. I’d put A-Rod and Tex on the list before I’d put Utley on it.

  63. This horse ain’t dead yet and it’s never inappropriate to explain just how useless ST stats are. I hope every baseball fan reads this article.

  64. Utley? He’s a year older than Pujols and light years behind him offensively. Ramirez maybe, someday – hard to overcome 40 career points of OPS+, especially when Albert has exceeded his career line 3 of the last 4 years. Hanley has yet to have a single season remotely close to Pujols’ average year. Given a positional adjustment, I’d still have to say not yet.

  65. Mauer all the way (my previous is responding to Stu, not PWJh). Younger than Utley, same age as Ramirez, better hitter, higher positional scarcity. I’d be tempted by Ramirez, but Mauer is harder to replace.

  66. Some people are radically underestimating Utley here. OPS+ underestimates his value by a lot. Utley does everything well; hitting is the majority of his value, sure, he is a great hitter, but it’s not a big majority. He plays a key defensive position, and plays it better than anyone else in the majors, he’s one of the best baserunners in the game (23 for 23 in SB attempts last year!). He gives up a lot in hitting to Pujols, but even given Pujols’ well-roundedness, Pujols gives up a lot to him in everything else.

    Pujols, Utley, Ramirez, and Mauer are clearly the class of MLB, in that order, for me.

    EDIT: In response to the defenses of Mauer just posted, I say that we can’t give Mauer credit for being a repeatably-1.000 OPS guy yet. He hit .365 last year, and there’s no way that’s what we should expect in the future. He’s probably something like a .325 hitter true-talent, and that’s great, phenomenal, but it cuts him down. And he has an injury history, playing a position that is infamous for causing injuries. I pick Utley and Ramirez both above Mauer.

  67. SB just don’t bring a lot to the party in a high offense era – certainly not enough to where 23 moves the needle that much. Ramirez plays a much more difficult position, and hits as well as Utley and is 4 years younger and has DOUBLE Utley’s career SB total. He isn’t in Pujol’s class as a hitter, and King is no slouch with the glove. Great player, love to see him in ATL, but really not near “best player” territory.

  68. If this was after the ’95 season and pitching we were talking about. Pujols = Greg Maddux (coming off 4 Cy’s)… everybody else we’ve talked about is Tom Glavine/John Smoltz at best… and more likely Pettite & Mussina . None of which is anything to sneeze at… but as good as Utley is, I can’t consider him in the same discussion as Prince Albert.

    Hanley and Mauer have the benefit of having been in the league a bit less in this discussion so they still seem to have room for improvement… Utley seems to be what he is… a guy who can hit about 30 dings and OPS 900ish. Hanley seems more of a threat to OPS 950ish. And after this past season Mauer has shown he can go 1000+ in the OPS dept (though it’s worth it to point out that his AMAZING ’09 would be Albert’s 2nd or 3rd worst offensive season in the last 7 years if you use OPS or OPS+ as guage).

  69. He’s probably something like a .325 hitter true-talent,

    And where do you get that from? 3 of the last 4 seasons he’s had a BA over .325, and a BAbip of over .340. At some point, it’s a skill. He’s not even 27 – what are you going to say if he gets even better?

    I say that we can’t give Mauer credit for being a repeatably-1.000 OPS guy yet

    Well I sure as heck know who we can rule out of that club, after never doing it in 7 seasons of trying….

  70. Charles, the notion that Still A Douche belongs with these other names is laughable.

    I basically agree with spike, but it’s fun to see everyone’s input. If I’m taking one for 2010 only, it’s Pujols. If I’m taking the long view, it’s a tough choice between Mauer and Hanley.

  71. Sure, Mauer could improve. He could also fall back to his established level of 850 OPS +/- 50 points, which, while awesome, does not put him among the best in baseball. Mauer has the biggest variance in his future performance, because he’s just had a year which is either an outlier or a new performance level, and nobody knows which.

    I eyeballed a .325 true-talent from his numbers, and it looks like I was under-rating him a little, as the major projection systems (CHONE, ZiPS, Bill James, Marcel) have him at around .332 next year, but I wasn’t that far off.

    (stats from http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1857&position=C)

    EDIT: I do want to emphasize that, far more than the rest of the positions, catcher comes with a cost in terms of playtime and in terms of injuries, and given that Mauer already has some injury history, I’m inclined to dock him for that. Whereas the other three are all among the most durable in baseball.

  72. Again, guys, I think these are all really close, and Mauer undoubtedly has the highest upside of these guys too. If Mauer hadn’t missed the first bit of last year, I would have said that Mauer’s 2009 was, considering position, a better year than any Pujols, Utley, or Hanley had ever put up.

    But the injury concerns and the variance in Mauer’s performance make me prefer, ever so slightly, the others.

  73. I fear Utley more than any other player in the league. He is, absolutely, one of the top 5 players in all of baseball, and has been for at least 5 years. (It’s a good thing the Phillies blocked him with Placido Polanco at the same time they were blocking Ryan Howard with Jim Thome, or Utley might have been killing us for even longer.) Utley does everything well and many things historically well, and he’ll probably stroll into the Hall of Fame. Hanley is, likewise, one of the most freakishly talented humans ever to pick up a bat and glove.

    But the list of great offensive shortstops and great offensive second basemen is a whole lot longer than the list of great offensive catchers. What Mauer does offensively and defensively at his position is just much, much, much harder to find.

    Maybe I’m overvaluing the fact that he’s a catcher. Then again, last year, he was the second-best hitter in baseball, behind only Pujols.

    Was it repeatable? Maybe not. You can certainly build an argument for Hanley or Utley as being just as valuable as Mauer. But that’s about it.

  74. Just got back from watching the games this weekend (Friday and Saturday). Another thing to add to the discussion of the near irrelevance of spring training stats is the type of approach these guys have to the situations of the game. You can tell by watching them that they treat these games different than the regular season ones.

    From my observation, some of the guys on each side were using the game to try something new, or to work on something. Others took it seriously; some were having a lot of fun and more concerned with fan interaction.

    When the games won/loss is completely irrelevant, the mood of the players change. It makes it hard for their stats to take the same meaning.

  75. Well, let’s look at this a different way. If Mauer and Utley hit the FA market right now, who do you think would get the largest contract? I think you realize that GM’s value Mauer’s skills as being more valuable in terms of dollars.

    And it seems like your whole rationale for ranking Utley higher has to do with possibility of Mauer getting hurt or hitting worse – things that are far more likely to happen to the 5 years older Utley. I say again, he is a fine player, but you really can’t make an affirmative case, defensively or offensively, except in slg%, and given their relative age and most recent seasons, you have to like Mauer even in that department going forward.

  76. You can certainly build an argument for Hanley or Utley as being just as valuable as Mauer. But that’s about it.

    Yeah, that was my point.

  77. 65—Meant to reply to this and then forgot, but reading Aaron Gleeman just now reminded me.

    As Gleeman notes — and as Neyer noted a week and a half ago — Mauer isn’t going to take up 1/3 of the team’s payroll. Their budget has increased with the opening of their new stadium. Essentially, they’ll have as much (or more) money to spend on the rest of the roster as they’ve had the last few years, and they’ve shown that they can win with that kind of budget.

    I really think it’s a great deal for the Twins. And especially for Twins fans.

  78. I fear Utley more than any other player in the league.

    Utley is obviously the superior overall player but I fear Ryan Howard the most. The Braves have no idea how to get him out. They should just take whatever book they have on Howard and do the opposite.

    Howard vs ATL
    Career: 84 G, 32 HR, 87 RBI, .341/.424/.728
    2009: 18 G, 8 HR, 16 RBI, .338/.400/.794

    Utley vs ATL
    Career: 107 G, 17 HR, 60 RBI, .287/.371/.496
    2009: 18 G, 6 HR, 10 RBI, .267/.307/.577

  79. The Mariners are considering using Casey Kotchman as a #3 hitter.

    I heard someone on the Hurd today (Buck Martinez?) praising the Yankees for picking up Randy Winn in the offseason. Because he frequently “hit” third for the Giants and is “a winning player”.

  80. I can’t think of a player other than Utley and Pujols who are both the best offensive and defensive players at their position. And it’ somewhat arguable whether or not Pujols is the best defensive 1B in the game.

  81. I think I agree with that statement, PWH, but I can’t help that but feel it’s not particularly indicative of anything.

    /and further, 2B has got to be the easiest place to meet that standard.

  82. yep, like Stu..for a yr or two its Pujols….long term for me is Hanley just because of the wear and tear put on catchers knees. Still a close one though

  83. 114,
    You’re right, not really an important quality in terms of value. Impressive, though.

    Main reason I pick Utley is 1) I think he’ll stick at 2B longer than Mauer will stick at C or Hanley will stick at SS (though Hanley did have a pretty good year defensively in 2009) and 2) he hits for just as much average and power as the other two with a shorter swing. And plate discipline? Utley blows Hanley away in that department and he’s certainly no worse than Mauer, if not better. Base running has been previously covered and Utley is clearly the best base runner of the three.

    Although this time next year, I have a feeling Justin Upton will be in this conversation.

  84. Thanks Kevin!

    You guys are great. I have gotten some great tips and kind words sent to me from here. Ill take what I can get! IT is a good feeling to know how many great people are out there.

  85. I voted that Heyward shouldn’t start the year in the majors, but I believe it’s basically a done deal that he’ll be in Atl on opening day. The problem is that there have been no other serious OF contenders in the spring.

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