5 Spring Training Hitter Performances I Care About

It’s easy to dismiss Spring Training stats. Heck, I used to vehemently deny they had ANY value. They are small samples against a wide variety of competition so how valuable can they truly be to what’s about to take place in the upcoming season? Pretty valuable it seems, if you’re looking at the right ones. Many studies have been conducted on spring stats and they have found that certain stats are indeed useful. The consensus is that strikeouts, walks, power, and stolen bases can be meaningful. With that in mind, here are five stats that stood out to me from the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

Jung Ho Kang: .548 ISO in 45 PA

Kang is back in the States and grabbed hold of the 3B job with a massive spring. His .548 ISO was an MLB-best among the 250 players with at least 41 PA. Of his 10 hits, seven left the yard and two others were doubles. He did fan 18 times (40%) so he seemed to sell out for the power and maybe he ups his 21% K rate, but I’d gladly take a 25-27% K rate if he’s going to chase down 30+ HRs.

Ian Desmond: 6 K, 9 BB (nice) in 50 PA

The two worst wRC+ totals of Desmond’s last seven seasons have come with the Rockies and in case you’re worried that the Coors adjustment to wRC+ is dragging that down unnecessarily, it’s also his two worst OPS totals. He needs to change something if he’s going to hang onto his job because there are just too many good players in Colorado. Walking more than he struck out is an encouraging sign, especially as this has been paired with a .366/.490/.659 line. Getting back to 2017’s average of .274 with last year’s power (.186 ISO) would pay some handsome dividends.

Franchy Cordero: 8 SB attempts (75% success)

Cordero is an absolute toolbox with 70 raw power, 70 speed, and 60 arm. We’ve seen the pop with a .199 ISO in his 253 MLB plate appearances, but he has just six stolen bases in that same span. Equaling that total in 50 PA is encouraging for those hoping to get the power-speed performance from him this year. The referenced studies above pointed out that team SBs can be indicative, too, so the fact that the Padres led baseball in steals (39) and attempts (54) is encouraging.

I’ll use this space to point out that Hunter Pence went 6-for-6 on bases, too. I didn’t give it a separate entry because I’m not sure that it portends a stolen base rebirth for the 36-year old who has just 12 steals in his last 1452 PA. It did get my attention, though.

Jeimer Candelario: .347 ISO, 0.9 K/BB in 53 PA

A two-fer here as the Candyman showed big pop while also maintaining a fantastic plate approach in the limited sample. One of the reasons I like Candelario coming into this year is that I think he’s better than his 26% K rate from a year ago. He struck out just 17% of the time in the minors so if posts something in the low-20%s, he has a better chance to hit something in the .265-.275 range. Meanwhile, the power was there early on last year before a wrist injury lingered over his summer. Seeing it on display here in spring aids my belief that he could pop 25 this year.

Cedric Mullins II: 4-for-4 in SBs

Mullins might’ve had more, too, had his OBP been better than just .261. Baltimore is under new management top-to-bottom so their aversion to stolen bases could be a thing of the past. They were 7th in attempts with 36 this spring compared to just 22 last year which had them tied for 29th. This could be great news for fantasy players as they several potential speedsters in Mullins, Jonathan Villar, Richie Martin, and Dwight Smith Jr.

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Cory Settoon
Member

The thing to watch with Desmond is the ground ball rate. So far he has 17 ground outs and 4 fly outs. Not saying it is the stickiest of stats, but not what you want to see either way.

Bjd1207
Member
Bjd1207

Well basically any part of his profile could stand to improve. Ground balls def still an issue but plate discipline def was too, maybe he works on angle next?