Spring Ahead: Spring Training Stats & Fantasy Baseball Roles

Brett Myers

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When considering your options for fantasy baseball in the regular season, many owners look to put stock in the performances of players during spring training games. Pitchers are often behind their batting counterparts to begin camp and often spend time working on developing or refining pitches. Also, the big names on the mound often only pitch a few innings per outing in an effort to get warmed up as spring begins. As a result, lesser batting talents often have the opportunity to shine and as a result may put up stats that are a little out of the norm.
Also, there is the issue of a relatively small sample size. At any point during any regular season, if you were to take a slice of games and analyze the statistics you would no doubt find some oddities. Baseball has a long regular season and stats often regress to the mean. In other words, be careful not to put too much stock in spring stats as an outlier for regular season performance. There have been a few examples of spring training stats being a poor indicator of regular season success.

During spring training 2005, Toronto Blue Jays up-and-coming outfielder Gabe Gross set the franchise record with 8 spring home runs. After this impressive display, Gross managed to get himself into a grand total of 40 games for the big league team, amassing 102 plate appearances and mustering a single home run in the regular season.

What is more important than stats are the battles for positions on a particular ball club. For example, during spring training 2011, Washington Nationals Michael Morse made a push for playing time during spring games and ended up making the team and putting up impressive fantasy numbers. He increased his role from platoon player to big time producer.
For deep fantasy leagues, another key aspect of spring games is the battles for the back end of the rotation among starting pitcher candidates. A player such as Boston’s Daniel Bard will have a significantly different fantasy impact in the starting rotation as opposed to a relief role.
Getting the opportunity to see players in new roles is another benefit of spring games. A newly anointed closer such as Houston’s Brett Myers can be watched during March to see how the adjustment is being handled and if there is a good opportunity to benefit his fantasy owners.
Keep a close eye on spring training games. Just try to concentrate on individual roles rather than stats and you should be in a better position to succeed entering the regular season.
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