The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

The trouble with (spring) statistics

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Mar 11, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

It’s easy to look at a box from today’s game and say, “Wow, Nick Swisher is hitting .111. He sucks.”

However … the games against Team USA and Team Canada do not count in the spring stats for reasons I am not clear on. The Excitable Boy was 1 for 3 in those two games with two walks and two RBI.

Beyond that, most teams invite every pitcher over high A ball with a pulse to spring training. In a WBC year, you get even more scrubs mixed in. So somebody could be hitting .400 against pitchers who would need a ticket to get into a big-league park. Somebody else could be hitting .111 against six aces.

Joe Girardi said it well yesterday: you can’t look at the numbers in spring training, you have to look at the work. If a good player is swinging the bat well, it doesn’t really matter whether the ball falls in. History tells you it will.

The same is true of a pitcher. CC Sabathia doesn’t have control of his cutter yet. That’s a pitch he often uses with two strikes. For him, that pitch usually comes when he has two or three starts left in the spring. So he throws a four-seam fastball for a strike and — ka-boom — Gary Sheffield drills one. Sheff doesn’t get that pitch on April 27.

“I’ve been doing this a while, I know what will happen,” CC said. “You go through these things in spring training.”

Had you been on Field 2 at 9:40 a.m today, you would have seen Mariano Rivera barely able to throw strikes. John Rodriguez was laughing as he danced out of the way.

But Mo has another bullpen session on Saturday, then a game on Monday and then more games after that. Come April 6 in Baltimore, he’ll be ready.

So don’t look at the numbers and miniscule sample sizes. Read the comments, watch the swings and scan the boxes to see who was pitching.

There’s a reason spring training is so long. If they ran the players out there for real games after two weeks, it would be pretty ugly.




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