Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring stats leading to regular season success

The correlation between Spring Training and the regular season is something that can be hard to comprehend for fans from a statistical standpoint. The starters only get a couple at-bats, the pitchers only throw an inning or two, and the players are in an atmosphere that is starkly different than the rest of the year. There is a small sample size of games to gauge how well a player is going to do in the coming season.

Here is a comparison of the Spring Training Leaders in the major batting categories and who lead the team in those areas in the regular season. I disqualified some of the players if they won't become regulars on the major league squad (Brendan Harris in 2010, Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher in 2009, Randy Ruiz and Craig Monroe in 2008).

2010 Twins
Batting Average
Spring: Michael Cuddyer .411
Season: Joe Mauer .327 (Cuddyer .271)
Spring: Jason Kubel 4
Season: Jim Thome 25 (Kubel 21)
Spring: Michael Cuddyer 11
Season: Delmon Young 112 (Cuddyer 81)
Spring: Denard Span 13
Season: Michael Cuddyer 93 (Span 85)

2009 Twins
Batting Average
Spring: Justin Morneau .389
Season: Joe Mauer .365 (Morneau .274)
Spring: Kubel/Young/Gomez 3
Season: Michael Cuddyer 32 (Kubel 28, Young 12, Gomez 3)
Spring: Jason Kubel 11
Season: Jason Kubel 103
Spring: Kubel/Young 12
Season: Denard Span 97 (Kubel 73, Young 50)

2008 Twins
Batting Average
Spring: Joe Mauer .458
Season: Joe Mauer .328
Spring: Mauer/Kubel 2
Season: Justin Morneau 23 (Mauer 9, Kubel 20)
Spring: Justin Morneau 8
Season: Justin Morneau 129
Spring: Carlos Gomez 10
Season: Joe Mauer 98 (Gomez 79)

Overall results of this "very scientific" statistical analysis:

1. Kubel is a stud during Spring Training- Kubel has lead or tied for the team lead in homeruns each of the last three seasons during Spring Training. The hot sun and humid Florida air carry the ball a little further for Kubel than in the regular season. His homerun totals have been decent in the regular season the last two years. It will be interesting to see what kind of role he has this year and how his numbers are impacted.

2. Cuddyer should of had a better year last year- His batting average in the spring was off the chart, he was driving in runs, and he was smashing homeruns. That production didn't translate to the regular season. Maybe his recent wart surgery will save some of his higher production for the regular season.

3. Fast and slow runners can score- The Twins don't discriminate between fast and slow runners when it comes to scoring runs in the spring. 2008 and 2010 saw two fast runners score the highest amount of runs (Gomez and Span). 2009 gave witness to runners that aren't particularly fast leading the team in runs (Kubel and Young). This same theory has translated to the regular season as well. Mauer and Cuddyer, of the not so fast group, lead the team in runs for the 2008 and 2010 seasons respectively. Span, of the faster group, scored the most for the Twins in 2009.

4. Joe Mauer is a good hitter- It doesn't matter what time of year it is, Joe Mauer will always be able to hit for average. His power numbers might fluctuate from year to year but his average is high at the end of the spring and at the end of the season. The next step might be to raise his average in the postseason (.286 BA).


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