As fans of baseball, we sometimes like to place a huge (or at least disproportionate) amount of importance on the outcomes of April baseball. If a player is hitting the ball around the field with ease — he’s going to have a great year or he’s completely healed from an injury. If a player is struggling — he’s probably not going to be in the majors much longer or he was never all that good to begin with. But, the assumption that we can learn anything from just a handful of at-bats isn’t something that matches reality. It might be a lot less fun this way, but the truth is that the events that can happen on the baseball field are so random, so chaotic, that until we can observe a lot of them*, we should look at the longer picture.
*There is some debate at which rate certain statistics stabilize. But nothing that you can reliably draw from is going to happen at under 50 plate appearances for any statistic.
It’s the cold logic of sample sizes that should keep us grounded in reality — or at least we should want to see more, much more, before we can any proclamations.
Enter Edgar Renteria and his current slash-line of: .688/.737/1.000 (11 hits, 16 at-bats)
In yesterday’s game against the Braves, Renteria cracked a 1-2 Billy Wagner slider over the LF fence. That 2-run HR that tied the game was Renteria’s first HR of the year. He hit 5 total HRs in 2009. It was an awesome moment in Giants baseball. The team had struggled for most of the day to hit Tim Hudson and Renteria — who is coming off a horrible, horrible ’09 — became the hero. Our first instinct, I think, is to place a huge amount of weight on that single swing. It was a great swing, but in truth, it doesn’t tell us much — if anything — about Renteria’s path for the rest of the season.
It’s possible that Renteria’s elbow problems from ’09 are completely cured and it’s the reason why he struggled so much on offense. It’s possible that he’s primed for another high BABIP season and ready to be a competent hitter for the Giants. It’s also possible that he’s had a great start to the year and he just ran into a 1-2 slider from Wagner, hitting it into the seats. It’s all possible, but we don’t know where Renteria will end up by year’s end. That shouldn’t detract us from the results he’s provided so far, but before we try and make any declarations of where he’ll be — and if he’s back/finished/holding steady — by the end of the season, we should be patient.
I don’t know if Renteria is going to a positive for the Giants this year. But I sure enjoyed that at-bat against Wagner and that’s something I think we can all agree on.
Bumgarner Update: Madison Bumgarner made his first start of the year for the Grizzlies and things did not go well. He pitched 3 innings, gave up 11 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, walked 2, and struck out 2.