April 7, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards Spring Training OPS Edition

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Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals

Spring training stats are utterly meaningless…for the most part. They do actually matter for some people. Fantasy GMs should want their guys to come through the spring healthy. What they actually did in spring shouldn’t have an impact on their value because it doesn’t matter. For some guys, the Justin Morneaus or Adam Dunns of the world, spring stats actually have some value to fantasy GMs. It’s important to see Justin Morneau doing Justin Morneau like things. Words like “hitting off a tee” or “needed to be removed due to dizziness” can be the difference between taking an end of the draft flier or letting a player drift into the no man’s land that is the waiver wire. Fantasy GMs also need to know that Adam is capable of looking like some semblance of his former self and not the ghost-like figure who meandered through a historically bad season.

1. Albert Pujols 1.287
2. Chris Young 1.232
3. Lorenzo Cain 1.193
4. Billy Butler 1.161
5. Delmon Young 1.156
6. Ian Kinsler 1.148
7. Eric Hosmer 1.127
8. Kyle Seager 1.116
9. Joe Mather 1.116
10. Ichiro Suzuki 1.113

Albert Pujols lead hitters in OPS during the spring. It’s nice to see, but ultimately meaningless. His draft status wasn’t influenced by his spring. Albert could have a horrific spring and still be a top five pick. Nothing to see here.

The only numbers from the spring that mattered for Chris Young were his strikeout walk numbers. Young owned a 10:10 K:BB ratio for the spring. That’s solid for a guy with a 22.8% career K-rate and a 10.0% career BB rate. Young could be an elite-level outfielder if he could out-perform his career .319 OBP. One month of practice baseball does not change a career of data, but it could be a step in the right direction for a guy still in the middle of his prime years.

There was a solid chance that Lorenzo Cain would have been 2012’s Mr. Irrelevant if it weren’t for some of the other names on this list . Remember when Tampa Bay’s Sean Rodriguez tore up the Grapefruit League and was poised for a breakout? Yeah, it’s two years later and he’s….still poised for a breakout. Cain does look like he’s going to get the bulk of the work in center field, but Jason Bourgeois is looming as a playing time vulture. The problem with Cain is that we don’t have a whole lot of data worth looking at. He looks like a hitter that needs to have a high BABIP to be productive based on his minor league numbers. That’s something Cain owners will need to monitor.

Billy Butler’s bat is also not in question. He can mash. His strong spring should have zero impact on his value either way.

Delmon Young showing up in shape and motivated is a surprise. The problem is that he was really, really lucky on balls in play during the spring. He only walked twice and struck out ten times. He’s still the same guy, but he had a really lucky spring. They don’t keep BABIP or HR:FB data for spring numbers, but it’s a near lock that Delmon’s were well over his career averages. He’s fine to have on a roster, but don’t get too far out ahead of your skis on Delmon.

Ian Kinsler is an elite run producer from a scarce position. Move along.

Eric Hosmer is poised for a potential breakout and it looks like he got off to any early start by battering Cactus League pitching. He managed 10 walks and 13 K’s in 95 spring plate appearances. He’s fine to own and a worthy draft choice at just about any price/draft slot within reason.

The last time Kyle Seager showed any pop was in 2010 as a 23 year old in High A ball. He had a .158 ISO. His spring training numbers can be completely ignored. He’s in a time share at third base and really isn’t worthy of any attention in anything except the deepest AL-only leagues.

Joe Mather is basically a Quad-A player who managed to snag a spot as the 25th man on the Cubs roster. Mather’s minor league numbers really aren’t that bad, but he’s never really had a chance at a full time role at the major league level. He’s shown a solid walk rate and good power in the minors, but those numbers have never translated to the major league level. He strikes out a ton and the power doesn’t translate. Mather is heading into his age 30 season. He’s likely headed for a job as a minor league bench coach or something if this run with the Cubs doesn’t work out.

Ichiro puts the ball in play a lot. He was the same guy he’s been for his entire career during the spring. He’s fine to own as long as he’s providing the high BABIP and steals that fantasy owners have come to expect.

1. Bobby Abreu .389
2. Dexter Fowler .454
3. Carlos Pena .468
4. Willie Bloomquist .491
5. Rafael Furcal .491
6. Angel Pagan .505
7. Ty Wiggington .506
8. Colby Rasmus .515
9. Justin Turner .519
10. Tyler Pastornicky .520

There’s no way to quantify this, but we have to wonder how much Bobby Abreu’s lack of a role caused his bad spring. Abreu drew seven walks and struck out eight times in 62 PA’s. He didn’t show much power this spring. That could be because of a deterioration in skills or it could be sample size. It’s obvious the Angels feel its a deterioration. He’s a bench guy in AL-only leagues or waiver wire fodder in mixed leagues until Abreu actually has a role in a major league lineup. It would be a surprise to see Abreu get 300 PAs without a rash of injuries in the Angels’ lineup.

The numbers for Dexter Fowler actually are a concern. Fowler was gaining steam as a popular sleeper. He has a major league level skill, but he’s a guy to avoid until he can learn some strike zone judgment. Fowler struck out 17 times and walked on three times in 71 PA’s. Yuck. He looks like a Quad-A guy for now.

A bad spring for Carlos Pena is almost meaningless. He’ll likely be the same guy he’s always been during the long regular season. It’s a bad idea to cherry pick stats like this for a guy like Pena who is still useful. He struck out almost 40% of the time(23 K’s in 67 PAs), but he also drew 11 walks. Whatever. He’s a useful guy who should be owned in the appropriate formats.

Willie Bloomquist is bordering on fantasy irrelevant. He would be completely ignored if it weren’t for that hot month he had last year. He can steal bases when he plays, but he also isn’t very good at hitting baseballs. His bad spring shouldn’t have an impact on him not being a player worth a roster spot.

Rafael Furcal is another guy whose numbers can be ignored. He’s worth a roster spot in most formats and a bad 55 plate appearances shouldn’t matter…unless he’s hurt which he likely is.

Angel Pagan came into the spring with a reasonably firm grip on the Giants’ center field job. He left it in a platoon. He struck out 12 times and drew only three walks in 79 spring PA’s. It’s a small sample size for sure, but Pagan needs to show some plate discipline if he’s going to bat near or at the top of the order. He hit into 33 ground outs this spring, so the BABIP luck dragon could have gotten ahold of Pagan. His rosterability depends on his playing time. He’s worth a roster spot if the Giants are committed to giving him a full-time job. He’s a waiver wire guy until he winds up playing every day.

Ty Wiggington is a utility guy who has worked his way into playing time more than a handful of times. He hit over 20 homers as recently as 2010 and it seems like Wiggington has a hot month every year that has fantasy owners putting him on rosters. He looks like he’s going to see time around the Phillies infield until Ryan Howard is healthy. He’s not really worth a roster spot in anything except deep NL-only leagues, but his bad spring shouldn’t scare you off of him.

Colby Rasmus only got 62 spring PA’s. That’s way too small of a sample size to rush to judgment. He hit into 16 outs via fly out and line out. He’s worthy of a fifth outfielder spot until he proves he isn’t, but a bad start to the year could send Colby to the bench in real life and to the waiver wire. He had a solid 2010 season, but his plate discipline appears to have gotten worse since then. He’s regressing instead of developing. There really aren’t any red flags in his swing data for last year. Most of his metrics are right around league average. He was unlucky on balls hit in the air last year with a 8.3% HR:FB ratio. He hits a ton of flies(47.3% FB rate for his career) and making a lot of long outs. Rasmus looks a lot like the outfield equivalent of Gordon Beckham.

Justin Turner is simply not worth a roster spot in any format other than a Razzball league, but he did hit more homers(1) than Abreu, Wiggington and Rasmus combined.

It’s looking more and more obvious that Tyler Pastornicky is more like a fantasy bust than a fantasy sleeper. He “won” the starting job in Atlanta because the Braves simply don’t have anyone else and were relying on Pastornicky making the leap. He’s stumbled, but it might not be all that bad. He walked five times and struck out six. Not great numbers, but only had 74 PA’s and grounded out in 34 of them. That sounds like a luck dragon. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Pastornicky is a good player. It simply means that he’s a victim of bad luck in a small sample size.


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