I constantly perpetuate my image as a nerd who loves using stats to better look into the game I adore. But there is one set of statistics I simply cannot tolerate. A part of me dies every time someone refers to Spring Training numbers as if they actually meant something. Allow me to explain...
On Thursday evening, the Yankees and Rays engaged in a Spring Training game. Carlos Pena had one hit, wherein he festooned a ball over the fence in the Rays' losing effort. That hit was Carlos Pena's first hit of Spring Training. Going into play yesterday he was a grand 1-for-24 before adding a second hit and an RBI in another contest with the Yankees last night. Yeesh. No doubt there were Rays fans (five of the eight of them that actually exist, zing!) wringing their hands and breathing sighs of relief that Carlos Pena was finally out of his funk. If he gets off to a slow start, they'll probably gesticulate wildly at his preseason performance. Several Yankees fans were thinking the same thing aloud on Twitter with CC Sabathia's documented struggles. This is me unfollowing.
Look, you can take your Jason Heyward bombs and your Dominic Brown rocket arms and your Strasboners, I'll be waiting not-so-patiently for the games that actually matter. Why? Because to believe that someone like Carlos Pena would actually be an unproductive hitter based on his success facing opponents in Spring Training would be nothing short of absurd. We're talking about a guy who has never had a wRC+ below 100 in his career, and who boasts the highest FB rate in baseball the last three seasons. He's going to put the ball in the air, he's going to hit HR, and he's going to get on the other side of the karmic boomerang after posting an abysmal .250 BABIP last season (expected BABIP was .296). One of the lords of the three true outcomes knows no other way to exist, folks.
It's not that seeing Heyward hit balls into outer space isn't fun. Just the opposite. But I don't burn my fandom bridges for a player like CC just because of the month of March for the same reason I don't try to fellate a power drill.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Keith Allison. Righteous indignation courtesy of me!