Do Spring Training stats even matter as an indicator of a player’s fantasy baseball value for the new season?
Not if you are Micah Hoffpauir or Joe Nelson; that’s for sure.
Hoffpauir, 28, led the National League in spring training batting average at .419 (26-62) and was was second in slugging (.780) sandwiched between Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun. What did Hoffpauir get? A ticket to Iowa where he hit .319 last season before being injured. Hoffpauir’s path to The Show is blocked by Derek Lee and as luck would have it, Hoffpauir pulled a rib cage muscle on April 4 is expected to be on the shelf for a month.
Then, there’s Joe Nelson of the Marlins. Nelson, 33, led all spring training pitchers with 6 saves and sported a 2.45 ERA with a good strikeout ratio of 0.91. But, all Nelson got was sent to the minors as Kevin Gregg will assume the closers role despite a poor spring performance.
Another spring phenom was third baseman Mike Morse of the Mariners. Morse hit .492 (32-65) in the spring, had an on base of .542, and had 50 total bases. Morse’s code of entry into the Bigs, however, is safely blocked by Adrian Beltre.
If you’re looking for steals, but not a whole lot else, there’s a couple of early season potential free agent pickups you might be able to nab. Joey Gathright, 26, of the Royals stole 12 bases and had 18 runs scored to tie Kevin Mench for the AL spring lead. He’s already picked up 2 steals during the regular season despite reaching base only 5 times. The Twins Carlos Gomez is another guy who will get the chance to rack up some steals for you. Gomez had 10 in the spring and has 4 already in the regular season while hitting .375 in the early going. There’s also Eugenio Velez, 25, of the Giants. Velez led the MLB with 16 stolen bases in spring. He’ll split time at second base with Ray Durham while Brian Bocock has taken over the full time shortstop job for the Giants.
On the mound, 6′ 7″ Jered Weaver, 25, went 5-0 in the spring. He’s off to a good start for the Angels in the regular season as well at 1-1, 2.03. The Mets’ John Maine also looked great. Maine, the only player in the MLB whose last name is a state, was 3-1, 1.53 ERA. Maine had 33 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched–most in the NL.
Hunter Pence, 24, also got off to a great spring start. Pence (rhymes with Bentz, as in Chad), who hit .321 last year for the Astros, had 32 spring hits to go with an MLB high 59 total bases. Pence is a must start in all fantasy baseball leagues, although he will get a rest from time to time with a deep Astros outfield that also includes Cruz Jr., Orlando Palmeiro, Michael Bourne, and Carlos N. Lee.
There’s also a lot of familiar faces that topped the spring stats charts. Ivan Rodriguez showed he still has a power stroke by hitting 8 homeruns and sporting a .373 average. Jose Cruz Jr. led the majors with 20 RBIs. Todd Helton hit .415 with a .516 on base. Jim Thome cracked 6 homers and had 19 RBIs.
And, if there was any doubt about Albert Pujols’ bad elbow, they may have gone away this spring. Pujols hit .407 with a .780 slugging and .500 on base percentage to go with 5 homeruns and 18 RBIs.