We’re only a few days away from the first game of Spring Training – the Giants play the Diamondbacks on March 3, 2012 – and there is, quite understandably, a lot of baseball excitement in the air. After watching the Giants televise their batting practice last week, I was already quaking at the prospect of live baseball.
Yet, while Spring Training is a glorious time for all the reasons you can imagine, let’s not fall into the trap of reading too much into the numbers that come out of the spring. This is primarily a numbers blog, and despite that, I’m telling you right now: You’re better off ignoring Spring Training statistics.
It’s a time when Travis Ishikawa (2009, .302/.348/.581) hits like a superhuman Joe DiMaggio; it’s a time when Eugenio Velez can lead the league in stolen bases (2008, 16 steals); it’s a time when all sorts of weird shit can happen.
Baseball is a weird, quirky sport. Things happen sometimes that defy logic. Spring Training is, essentially, the ultimate incubator for weird crap. You’re taking small sample sizes, mixing them with weird levels of talent, playing in stadiums so “live” that they make pre-humidor Coors Field weep, and then baking it at 350° for an hour into some sort of bizarre cake of baseball knowledge.
Spring Training is a great time. It contains real baseball, which we all love dearly. But don’t make the mistake of thinking Brandon Crawford is poised for a breakout year when he’s batting .300/.400/.500 by the end of camp or conversely that Brandon Belt is doomed when he’s hitting .200/.300/.350.
Let’s keep things on an even keel, folks.