Your Annual Reminder That Spring Training Stats Don’t Matter

After a 2-1 victory over the Phillies today, the Braves are 2-6 in Spring Training. That would be bad, except a) Spring Training stats are meaningless, and b) read previous. The Braves’ victory came on a walkoff single by “Braeden Schlehuber” — that would be a 25-year old catcher who hit below the Mendoza line in Double-A last year.

Please, by all means, watch and listen to the games. They are incredibly important, as the established players get ready for Opening Day and players on the bubble like Tommy La Stella fight to make a case for major league playing time. And they’ll be facing career minor leaguers with no stuff and established pitchers who are trying to remember how to find the plate with all their pitches. The stats don’t matter, as Mac used to say every year.

But thank God that baseball is back.

157 thoughts on “Your Annual Reminder That Spring Training Stats Don’t Matter”

  1. Yes, baseball is back.

    I’ve stopped to bravesjournal before and it was very enjoying. Gosh, I’m really shocked can’t see Mac anymore on bravesjournal. Will miss him and his comments forever as long as I am a braves fan.
    Thank you so much keep running this site.

  2. Every year I tell myself that ST stats don’t matter, but then the games start and I get caught up in one or two players whose spring training should give me insight into how well they’ll do during the season. This year it’s BJ and Uggla. I’ve gained absolutely no insight on either player and have concluded now that ST stats don’t matter. Of course, I’ll go through the same process next year. Maybe one day spring training stats will matter – nah.

  3. Wake me when the games are real. Going to Spring Training a few years ago was fun but I have about zero interest in following exhibition games not in person. I quite prefer to watch tennis on TV until the baseball games are real.

  4. If I recall, BJ actually had a fairly strong spring last year. Then he couldn’t buy a hit once Opening Day rolled around.

  5. Spring would be a great time to re-run the ‘best of mac’ posts from years gone by. As I recall, there were more than a few entertaining ones concerning this very topic.

  6. To be honest, I always found the “irrelevant Spring” thing a bit played out. Yes, stats don’t matter, we get it. But there are still meaningful things happening, just not the sort of things you see in a box score. For instance, can Uggla see? Has BJ reworked his swing? Is Beachy’s velocity a concern? etc. etc.

  7. Ramiro Pena; 11 at bats: .455/.455/.636 (1.091)
    Tommy LaStella; 18 at bats: .389/.500/.500 (1.000)
    Dan Uggla; 14 at bats: .286/.450/.286 (.736)

    I would post BJ Upton’s horrific ST numbers, except his 631 OPS puts him ahead of both of our other starting outfielders…

  8. That’s not the wine and roses review of his off-season work I was hoping for.

  9. BJ wouldn’t be the first guy who lost his mechanics and never got them back, especially since his mechanics apparently were sort of iffy anyway. Not good. Oh well, at least he’s rich.

  10. Upton’s contract is still light-years better than the Braves’ television contract.

  11. @11. Wonderful article. Definitely hope this is only the start of changes rather than the end, but he has only few weeks before the season starts…

  12. @11

    It seems that with those changes, he could at least be productive, albeit not worth his contract. I hope for the best, but I know Schafer would gladly take his spot. Same thing with La Stella/Uggla.

    Caught the game in Fort Myers against the Red Sox. Bats were quiet, they lost, but it was good to see La Stella finally.

  13. Apparently Medlen just left the game with an injury. That’s not the news I wanted to hear today. Here’s hoping it’s nothing major.

  14. He threw a pitch, rubbed his elbow, threw another, then immediately went to the dugout. Didn’t even stop for the trainer. Sure as hell did not look good.

  15. It’s officially a “right forearm strain” and he will be evaluated further tomorrow. Not sure if that is code for “this is very, very bad” or “this may be okay.”

  16. It’s bad. Same link as the video I posted: “Forearm strains are known to be indicators of an elbow problem.”

  17. I doubt it’ll happen (budget), but if the MRI is as feared, do you place a call to try and entice Ervin Santana away from a likely contract with an AL East also-ran, even though it’s an eight-figure price tag and a first-round pick?

  18. Since Medlen’s already had TJ surgery once, though, won’t the MRI more than likely be inconclusive? He didn’t talk to the media today, which tells you what his mindset about this is. What’s up with so many of our players who have had TJ surgery once suddenly needing it a second time?

  19. This team desperately needed an ace this offseason. They really can’t afford to lose Medlen.

  20. Hudson, Heyward and now Medlen? What’s with playing the Mets and Braves getting injured lately?

  21. Sounds like the sweeping went down quickly. Maybe he will be okay. I’m sure he will be golfing with Dr Andrews soon.

  22. You can hold out hope if you want. Deep down we all know he’s done for the year, though. Let’s just hope he comes back period. The track record for people coming back from a second Tommy John surgery is not particularly great.

  23. It looks like we’d roll with:
    Minor (assuming his shoulder thing isn’t a big deal)
    Teheran
    Beachy
    Wood
    Garcia/Floyd

    Could be worse. But Alex is correct, Beachy needs to be very good once again.

  24. “Keep our fingers crossed. But I feel a lot better after talking to our medical people. We might be OK.”

    -Gonzalez, on Medlen.

  25. “Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the ulnar collateral ligament. It had Medlen’s number today.”

    -Fredi Gonzalez

  26. Minor will start the year on the DL won’t he?

    Minor – Shoulder (may start on DL)
    Beachy – Elbow/shoulder (may be healthy)
    Teheran – good to go
    Wood – good to go, innings limited
    Garcia – ok 5th man
    Floyd – out till may (best case scenario)
    Hale – healthy, may be ready
    Trades – need to get one (Lohse or Samardzija)

  27. Gotta love Fredi’s optimism

    @ajcbraves: #Braves Fredi G: “Thank God we signed Fredi Garcia this winter.”

    Sure would love to have Hudson still in a braves uni.

  28. @ajcbraves: #Braves Fredi G: “Thank God we signed Fredi Garcia this winter.”

    Nationals fans will agree with that. Praise the Lord!

  29. Sky’s not falling. Let’s wait to hear what the MRI says.

    If it’s not good, then we still have options. Not ready to scream DOOOOOOOOOOMMMMEEEEDDDD.

  30. DOB trolling hard right now. I saw eight new tweets, hit F5 a few billion times, and it turns out we brought back Horacio Ramirez as a coaching assistant. Thanks for the update…

  31. Yeah, I saw where they hired HoRam. It pays to be a likable guy when your career ends. Overseeing instant replay protocol?

    “What would you say… you do here?”

  32. If we do lose Medlen, the biggest problem is replacing his innings. He threw about 200 innings of 124 ERA+ ball last season. Where is that going to come from if he is gone? Wood can’t pitch more than 170 since he has an innings limit. Can’t count on more than 150-160 from Beachy since he has never even started for an entire season in the minor leagues, and one has to figure he also has an innings limit. But these guys were supposed to replace Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm’s innings.

    These innings will likely to go Freddy Garcia and David Hale, who are unlikely put up a league average ERA.

  33. Our pitchers are dropping like flies this Spring Training. If we have no Minor, Medlen, or Beachy to start the season, we’re in major, major trouble. And I was JUST beginning to convince myself that we may be okay pitching-wise, even though we had not been able to land another starter over the offseason…

  34. So now Beachy?

    Our throwing programs just not cutting it? Seems like our guys are struggling to stay healthy.

  35. Jon Morosi asked the question we probably all want to know concerning Beachy’s velocity and whether he’ll try to push his velocity this spring. His response…”I tried”.

    Great late offseason and a horrid spring thus far.

  36. I’m hoping Medlen just had some old scar tissue break off. That’s best case scenario IMO. I think Beachy may be done.

  37. Excited about the game today against the Nats. Heyward and Uggla homered, BJ got two hits with no ks, Chris johnson joined the hit parade,La Stella doubled with 2 rbis. Much of the damage came against Cliff Lee and Papelbon. Also, Beechy and our other pitchers, including Graham, are blanking them.

    Oh yeah. Spring training stats don’t matter. Never mind. In all seriousness, they really don’t matter. As was pointed out, ST injuries do matter!

  38. So our rotation is down to Teheran, Wood, Garcia, Hale and Aaron Northcraft?

    I’m not optimistic on either Medlen or Beachy being healthy this year.

  39. Actually, looking at their minor league progression last season, Cody Martin is probably ahead of Northcraft. Martin has some solid K rates in the minors and had success at Triple A last year.

  40. @ajcbraves: Hearing from person connected to Royals that #Braves could be making a run at Santana.

    Well, we really don’t have any other choices/options right now.

  41. Ankiel would, at least, have an intimidation factor in that hitters would be in fear of their lives.

  42. @ajcbraves: Hearing from person connected to Royals that #Braves could be making a run at Santana.

    Two thoughts:
    1) Why the hell would anyone on the Royals have anything to say about this situation?
    2) Sounds to me like even Dayton Moore is having a laugh at our expense today.

  43. We really have to sign or trade for somebody who will slot into the rotation at this point. We can’t afford to have a rotation with both David Hale and Freddy Garcia in it if the goal is to actually try and win games this year. It’s already gonna be one of them and Floyd for part of the year if Wood is on an innings limit (and BTW, I still don’t think innings limits are a good idea or provide much of anything in the way of benefit unless the pitcher is actually fatigued). If we have the money to sign Santana as a free agent, that’s certainly a move that has to be made.

  44. 72: Do you know something no one else does about Minor? I haven’t seen a whisper that he has any injury problems, he’s just behind schedule because he got started later after recovering from surgery. And they don’t need a fifth starter until April 12.

  45. Minor might be okay, but it’s possible he might not be ready by the 12th, seeing as how he just started throwing off a mound.

  46. @79, It’s been reported that Minor pushed too hard to catch up and as a result is dealing with some shoulder soreness. It’s supposed to be nothing to be concerned about. But the way this season is going already…

  47. You have to imagine that Wren is trying to pull some truly crazy shit before he loses leverage by acknowledging the extent of Medlen’s injury. There are probably front office people hawking Hank Aaron memorabilia to tourists at Inside CNN so that we could afford Santana.

  48. @84

    I don’t really see any situation in which they’re withholding good news. Either it’s bad or they just don’t know yet.

  49. If Medlen is out for any significant amount of time we’re gonna have a really hard time finding innings now that Beachy looks like he is not back yet either. If Beachy was gonna look like he did in 2012 then we would probably have been ok and could ride it out at least until the trade deadline but if 2 of the top 4 go down before the season even starts and one of the other top 4 will miss several weeks at the start and the other one is 23 and never thrown more than 170 innings… Yikes. We need a guy like Santana in this spot who at the very least will eat those innings otherwise it’s gonna be a long season.

  50. We’re not exactly going to be negotiating from a position of strength with any of the potential trade targets. If we didn’t like the asking prices for these guys during the offseason, then we’re probably going to really dislike the price now that teams know we desperately need a top guy. I might be inclined to try to sign a cheap innings-eater (or just use our AAA/AA guys) and see if we can limp through to mid-season with baling wire and duct tape. Then at that point, assuming we’re not totally buried in the standings, maybe make the big impact trade to get the “ace” we still need.

    Either way our playoff hopes are going to take a big hit of Medlen is out for the year.

  51. George Kurtz of rotoexpert is reporting a tear in Medlen’s elbow. He’s apparently a fantasy guru and is warning against drafting Medlen in drafts being held tonight.

  52. That has to be speculation. No chance he knows that before the braves docs release the info.

    We may not “need” a 5th starter before April 12th, but right now it’s Teheran/Wood with a bunch of 5th starters

  53. This team needed a real #1 starter before anything happened to Medlen & Beachy. Even if they were healthy all we have is a bunch of 2-3-4 starters.
    Those extensions were nice but that money didn’t do anything to address the weakness of this team.

  54. There is no way George Kurtz has an inside informant in Dr. James Andrews office because that is where the MRI image will go.

  55. DOB saying they’ll evaluate the MRI stall till Tuesday in hopes of working something out tonight or tomorrow morning.

  56. Wash – Strasburg, Zimmerman, Fister, Detwiler, Gonzalez … Phil – Leee, Hamels, AJ Burnett , Kendrick … BRAVES IN TROUBLE !!!!!

  57. Earliest ‘dooooooomed’ declaration ever? Previous record was in 2012, when the Braves started the regular season 0-4.

  58. Now would be a great time for a team to emerge and tell the Braves they’d be willing to take on half of Uggla’s contract.

  59. Let’s assume Medlen is done for the year.
    What would Samardzija cost, y’all figure?

    He gets 5.34 million this year with a year of arb left.
    Cubs have loads of non-Catcher infielders, a couple of OFs, and need pitching.
    Lucas Sims is probably too much. JR Graham has potential but may not hold up in a rotation, and so is probably not enough.
    Maurico Cabrera alone probably isn’t enough.
    Is Aaron Northcraft and Jason Hursh for Samardzija and, say, some cash reasonable for both sides?

  60. Is Aaron Northcraft and Jason Hursh for Samardzija and, say, some cash reasonable for both sides?

    Hoyer/Epstein lol and hang up.

  61. There’s no use panicking at this point. Let’s wait and see how bad things really are-and then panic. It just shows how amazingly fortunate the Braves were with the Big 3 in the 90s.

    I don’t know why Wren doesn’t just trade BJ Upton for Felix Hernandez. Do it Wren.

  62. I’m setting expectation levels to something like “Ben Sheets II” rather than Samardzija. I don’t believe this team will expand the payroll.

  63. At least we aren’t two weeks removed from signing Medlen to a 5-year, $40 million dollar extension or something like that.

  64. Guys, I think we’re making a little too much out of this pitching “crisis.” Just move Andrelton over to the mound every 5th day, and then after he gives us seven strong innings, he slides back over to shortstop as a defensive replacement.

    Problem solved.

  65. I don’t understand all this doom and gloom. First of all, we got Horacio Ramirez as a replay assistant coach. After this, we made a trade for Zach Stewart. Stewart went 3-10 with a 6.82 ERA in 33 major league games (14 starts) in 2011-2012 with the Blue Jays, White Sox and Red Sox.

    Our problems have been solved, especially since BJ and Uggla ended their slumps yesterday and are poised for breakout years. You guys just worry too much!

  66. David O’Brien‏@ajcbraves:
    #Braves Medlen MRI showed “some involvement of the ligament” and he’ll get second opinion and further evaluation

    Mark Bowman‏@mlbbowman:
    Wren says Medlen’s MRI showed damage around the right elbow ligament. But they will wait a few more days to make a decision

  67. Yeah, I’m interpreting that as no Medlen in 2014. Okay news on Beachy, although without something approaching his old velocity he’s probably not going to perform adequately.

  68. If Medlen was on Wren’s extension list, he (Wren) has got to be breathing a sigh of relief now.

  69. Yep, Medlen is done for 2014. Get him under the knife now and get him ready for 2015 ST. I guess we could make calls on Santana, Beckett, Maholm, Samardzija, and anyone else that might be out there.

    I guess Teheran starts opening day.

    Lol at Teheran, Wood, Garcia, Hale, Floyd in May. Not good enough folks. We need to add 2 starters at this point.

  70. what’s the big deal with Ervin Santana? Career ERA+ of 100 even. about 7 K/9, not a great K/BB ratio. Whip around 1.3. I get that he’s better than our #4 or #5 guy, but is he seriously that hot of a commodity?

  71. @120 – I agree. We needed a better than average starter before this happened. Now we need two.

  72. The short list of FA starting pitchers…
    Starting Pitchers

    Odrisamer Despaigne (27)
    Jon Garland (34)
    Jair Jurrjens (28)
    Jeff Karstens (31)
    Jason Marquis (35)
    Jeff Niemann (31)
    Clayton Richard (30)
    Ervin Santana (31)
    Barry Zito (36)

    Bleck…

  73. What worries me is that we really don’t have a guy that can give us 200+innings.

    I’m not sure we ave a work horse that can go 7-8 here and there.

    Our bullpen is going to get worn down.

  74. @121 Average pitchers that can eat innings are valuable. You don’t want a staff full of them, but if that’s what you have on the back end, you’re doing pretty good.

  75. Santana is the best available FA and he might be willing to take a one year deal from us. He’s a middle of the rotation guy that can throw 200ip. We kind of need that at this point. It’s not my money so I’m fine with it. Wren needs to go over budget or find some miraculous trade.

  76. We have much bigger problems than who our opening day starter is going to be, or our bullpen.

  77. @127 – I can’t tell you how many times I heard that when we had Lowe. As long as we don’t sell the farm to get him I mostly agree. Getting an innings eater can keep us afloat, but if Wood or another prospect doesn’t have a breakout year (along with our other guys performing well), we’re toast.

  78. Niemann may be worth a quick look and minor league offer if he’s somewhat healthy. I assume he’s not since he’s still a FA at this point

  79. I hate to say I told you so, but they totally should have traded Kris Medlen for David Price.

  80. The big deal with Ervin Santana, aside from a bit of oversell in some quarters on his “breakout year” with KC, is that without him you’re talking about 30 starts from Aaron fucking Northcraft.

    Teheran/Minor/Garcia/Hale/Northcraft is not a pennant winning rotation.

    Teheran/Minor/Santana/Garcia/Hale can maybe make do.

    Assuming Minor’s sore shoulder doesn’t pulp out on him, of course. (Yes, at this point, I’m writing off Brandon Beachy until he throws over 85 MPH again.)

  81. Just add Graham and Sims to the rotation so we can get at least a half season from them before their mandatory TJ surgery.

  82. Teheran/Minor/Santana/Garcia/Hale can get us to July and let us make a move. Plus, Floyd should come back before then too.

    My thoughts are around this group keeping us in it until July when there will be a few more options out there.

  83. People just ignore Alex Wood, and I’ll never understand why. His 150-175 IP are more important than ever. Thankfully, they come with a sterling professional track record at just 23 years of age.

    He’s like the anti-Hale. Two bad final starts, everybody forgets you. Two good final starts, join the rosterbation party.

  84. I think they want to use Wood in the pen, but that may change.

    I wouldn’t count on anyone under 25 pitching 150-175 innings.

  85. Wood pitched about 130 innings last year. I reiterate that they were high quality innings.

    If the team doesn’t start him under these circumstances…having stretched him out this spring, where he has continued to perform well…

  86. Well this sucks. Second opinion probably means surgery for Medlen. With Beachy and Minor hurting all of a sudden the strength of the team looks pretty weak. I ain’t counting on Beachy.

    Teheran, Wood, Minor?, Garcia, Hale, Graham?. Wow, signing Floyed looks prescient now. But who is to say he is going to be any good when he comes back?

    Geez.

  87. 140 — The Braves don’t have a choice now. He has to start until he reaches his innings limit in August or early September.

    1. Minor (if he is ok)
    2. Teheran
    3. Wood
    4/5/6 Garcia/Hale/Beachy/Floyd when he comes back

    That should be ok for most of the season, though one has to figure the Braves will be forced to make a deadline deal for a SP to replace Wood for his inevitable shutdown.

  88. @118/Adam R

    You’re right, we shouldn’t spend the off-season dreaming about how well we want players to perform. I was so out of line. Can’t believe I was idly making predictions. So idiotic of me. Glad you’re around to keep us all even keel and not getting excited for an upcoming season. You’d have looked like such a douche bag if you’d replied to the casual “Who ya got?” thread. Good thing you didn’t.

    @Sam

    Your “I told you so”: WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US YOU KNEW KRIS MEDLEN’S ELBOW WAS GOING TO FALL OFF WE’D HAVE TOTALLY BEEN BEHIND YOU DON’T HOLD OUT ON US NEXT TIME BRO

  89. I obviously snark about the David Price thing, but there’s a pointed edge to the snark. From his first years on the prospect radar scouts have worried aloud that Kris Medlen didn’t have the frame to pitch as an every day starter in MLB. From those very first vocal concerns about his durability as a “small guy” those scouts have been laughed at and mocked by stat-mavens who simply pointed at Medlen’s numbers and said “he can obviously start, look at his stats!” They completely ignored the gist of the critique, which was that Medlen was not physically suited to start every day.

    Obviously, a likely second TJ surgery later has a lot of smarm-drenched hindsight to it, but at the same point, there’s a reason scouts like the David Prices of the world more than they like the Kris Medlens of the world.

  90. What’s the basis of the scouts liking big guys better than small guys for durability? (Honest question.) I know the scouts love the tall guys for higher arm angles, but that’s a talent issue.

    Because the statistical perspective is looking at 197 innings of well-pitched ball over a full season and equating that with durability.

  91. @146, You do realize this is all your fault, right? With that post, you might as well have created an enormous sign reading, “HELLO, BASEBALL GODS. PLEASE SMITE US ALL.”

    Seriously, don’t be butthurt because I’m just joking. I don’t believe in jinxes…not all the time, anyway :)

  92. @144 – That rotation will definitely not be ok for most of the season. Wins and losses in April and May count just as much as they do in August and September.

    Hate to be so pessimistic, but that is not the rotation of a playoff team. Unless you counter it with a Cleveland Indians of the mid-90’s line-up.

  93. It’s not hindsight to scratch your head about our front-office’s lack of moves this offseason. This is quite the perfect storm for Wren. Looks like he’ll have to earn his money now.

  94. Not butthurt any more. Thought you were telling me not to be wrong. Now I understand.

    I need to turn my attention to a different team: I hear Bryce Harper’s going to hit 50 HR’s, Zack Wheeler’s getting Cy Young, and Chase Utley’s ready to play 162 games this year.

  95. In fairness, I consider the guys who have already recovered from their TJ surgery to be a better bet than the guys who haven’t had their TJ surgery yet. So, I’m as surprised as anyone.

  96. Amen, Alex. For those us old enough to remember the Forty Years in the Wilderness, I recall that the Braves would frequently finish in the top 2-3 teams in the Grapefruit League in the 70s and 80s, only to drop 95+ in the real season.

    Whenever we do well in ST, I have a Pavlovian cringe.

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