MLB
April 1, 2013 posted by Chuck Anderson

Spring Training Stats: Hot or Not Week Five

Spring Training Stats:  Hot or Not Week Five
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Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals

Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals

Hot Hitters

 

Lorenzo Cain:  .450/.529/.700, 4 SB, 10 BB, 7 K

 

The whole Royals teams seemed to be tearing the cover off the ball as they surged to a 25-7 record during the exhibition season.  Cain is an intriguing player to watch and he has the tools to be a fantasy star.  His career BB/K is only 0.28, so an improvement on that front could point to better things ahead.

 

Justin Smoak:  .407/.455/.797, 5 HR, 6 BB, 15 K

 

Smoak could find himself riding the pine more often than not if Kendrys Morales can ably handle first base.  Smoak has made an effort to get things going in the right direction this year, but he has to prove it during the regular season before fantasy GMs can consider him.  He posted a .966 OPS in the Cactus League last year.

 

Bryce Harper:  .478/.500/.716, 3 HR, 4 BB, 12 K, 6 SB

 

Injured thumb notwithstanding Harper finished Spring Training atop the league in hitting.  He seems primed to improve upon last year’s numbers, but the only question is by how much.

 

Cold Hitters

 

Justin Maxwell:  .153/.231/.356, HR, 3 BB, 21 K

 

His power surge put him on the radar last year, but investing in him long-term could prove painful.  Strikeout rates over 30% are hard to overcome and last year his plate discipline deteriorated as well.  Avoid this risk.

 

Ruben Tejada:  .096/.210/.192, HR, 7 BB, 8 K

 

This looks like a run of bad luck for Tejada because his plate discipline remained intact.  In the long run he should hit for a better average.  He is not showing any growth as a power hitter though, making him a very limited fantasy asset.

 

Kelly Johnson:  .155/.300/.207, 0 HR, 11 BB, 16 K

 

His whiff rate has steadily increased in recent years, helping drag down his batting average to unusable levels.  The Rays are hoping he can rebound, but the early signs are not promising.  Keep tabs on him (preferably on the waiver wire) because he is one of only a few second basemen that can go 20/20.

 

Josh Johnson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Josh Johnson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Hot Pitchers

 

Josh Johnson:  2.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 3 BB, 23 K

 

All appears well on the Josh Johnson health watch. He reportedly feels great and is having little trouble setting down opposing hitters.  His K/BB has declined for each of the last two seasons and his fastball velocity is on a three-year slide.  He is a quality starter, but needs to find some of his lost skills to vault back into elite status.

 

Hyun-Jin Ryu:  3.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 27 K, 8 BB

 

Ryu left no doubt as he pitched himself firmly into LA’s rotation.  He got better as the season drew closer and fired four perfect innings on March 28.  Asian starters have typically peaked early in their major league careers, so now may be the time to acquire him.

 

Brandon Maurer:  1.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 25 K, 7 BB

 

Maurer won the last spot in Seattle’s rotation over Erasmo Ramirez.  Maurer has five professional seasons under his belt, but just made it to Double-A last year.  His K/BB was an uninspiring 2.44 and  he should be left on the waiver wire in most formats.

 

Cold Pitchers

 

John Lannan:  7.71 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 5 BB, 15 K

 

Not that fantasy owners should be clamoring over a pitcher with a 4.71 career K/9 anyway, but Lannan generally limits damage by inducing ground balls. If his GB/FB ratio starts to level out his in-season ERA could be as high as his Grapefruit League one.

 

Kris Medlen:  7.23 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 3 BB, 17 K, 4 HR

 

Some particularly windy weather unsettled Medlen and contributed to his high home run rate.  On the positive side, his control remained strong and he continues to induce ground balls.  His ZiPS projection of a 3.36 FIP seems reasonable.

 

Dan Haren:  6.39 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 5 BB, 18 K, 7 HR

 

Haren wrapped up the exhibition season with two poor starts, but feels “ready” and “confident” to begin the year.  It is troubling to see batters squaring him up so well after he allowed a career high 1.43 HR/9 in 2012.  Draft him if he represents good value, but he is not a target to seek out.

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