Anybody who has read this blog for a long time knows that I hate spring training stats. The reason is because they are unreliable and often give fans the wrong idea. It’s part of the reason why I hardly even discuss spring results here on the blog.
There are many reasons the stats are unreliable: players simply aren’t ready, they’re often working on things at the expense of results, there are an abundance of minor leaguers throwing off results, indifference in meaningless games, and most importantly sample sizes are too small to draw any real conclusions.
Just look at last spring when Raul Ibanez couldn’t hit anything at all. Most fans thought the Yankees were making a mistake including him on the roster. And it turned out that he had quite a bit left in his bat and after an injury to Brett Gardner the team leaned heavily on him.
Then there is the Jon Weber types. The nobodies who come in and catch fire in Spring Training. Then fans throw their hands up when he’s left off the roster. In Weber’s case, he was left off the Yankees in 2010. Some fans were upset. But then the team was justified after he hit just .258/.333/.325 in Triple-A that year. Two hot weeks did not change who this guy was.
There are a couple of spring training stats that I often do pay close attention too though — At Bats and Innings Pitched.
These stats don’t do anything to show if a guy is doing well or not, but it does give you a good window into what the coaches want to see. Especially early in spring before the regulars have completely worked their way to 100 percent, teams will often give more playing time to the players they have questions about.
This tells us that the Yankees want to see that Gardner is healthy. He did have three setbacks last year after all. It also shows us that they are seriously considering Melky Mesa to replace Curtis Granderson early on this season and that they probably expect they are going to have to use Nix with so many injuries early on.
Behind Mesa, Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz are the other outfielders with at least 20 at bats. Zoilo Almonte, Thomas Neal, and Ronnier Mustelier follow in that order which could be a sign that we shouldn’t expect Mustelier to make the team (as an outfielder at least).
David Phelps leads all pitchers with 14 innings pitched. This is a sign that the Yankees still don’t know what to do with him and want to see as much of him as possible before they decide. It’s no coincidence that Phelps is joined by Ivan Nova, whom he is battling for the fifth spot, as the only other starter who has pitched in more than a game.
Besides that the Yankees are mostly set in both the rotation and the bullpen so what we are looking at is whom they might call up in an emergency. It would appear that right now Jose Ramirez, Adam Warren, and Brett Marshall (each have 9 IP) are pretty much even where they might call on any one of them if there was a need in the rotation beyond Phelps and Nova. Vidal Nuno (7.1 IP) should be included in that group, epecially if you count innings he pitched with Team Dominican Republic and he’s actually thrown more than the other three so draw your own conclusions.
The fact that Dellin Betances has only pitched one inning this spring tells me a lot more than his 0.00 ERA. Even his two walks isn’t enough to say if he’s still dealing with control problems or not. I do know that the Yankees aren’t expecting much from him this year though otherwise he’d have been in a few more games.
The point is that by looking at innings pitched and at bats we can see which players the Yankees are looking at closely. Beyond that spring stats are a little useless to me.