“Ignore all stats from September and spring training.”
I am sure you’ve seen and heard this axiom many times by now. If you are a full disciple of this credo, feel free to move on quickly.
On the other hand, if you believe there might be value or at least interest in looking at such numbers, hang around a bit.
After all, if September and spring training results are simply to be discarded, then Jason Motte is nothing more than a promising Triple-A reliever with no big-league experience.
If you believe his results to date say something, this is what you get – a dominating line:
Motte’s four spring saves are tied for tops in the National League.
In preparation for an upcoming radio appearance, I sat down with the spring stat sheet this morning and here are some of my observations, both good and concerning.
Chris Duncan – Not only is his line .306/.368/.506, but he is tied for the team lead in home runs with four and is first in RBI with 19 (third in the NL). Colby Rasmus may have to scramble for at-bats if Duncan keeps this up.
Khalil Greene – A quiet man hitting a cool .406 (fifth-best in the NL) and tied for third on the team with 17 RBI. I have felt all along that the new shortstop could be a 2009 difference-maker for this team.
Rick Ankiel – Another quiet player batting .341 with 11 walks (.412 OBP) and 13 strikeouts. His 29 hits are tied for second in the League. If he can carry over an improved plate discipline into the regular season, it could be huge.
Skip Schumaker – Still hanging around .300 with eight doubles, just one behind NL-leading Albert Pujols, while learning the most challenging of new positions. Five errors, but they were early on. A most admirable spring under the microscope.
David Freese – Back from the dead, also known as minor league camp, hitting .350 (14-for-40) with the big boys and playing solid defense as expected.
Chris Carpenter – No news is good news. 1.52 ERA and a 17:6 strikeout to walk ratio in 23 2/3 innings. Simply the key to the season.
Joel Pineiro – Arguably the most effective starter in camp with a 1.44 ERA to go with 20 strikeouts and just four walks in 25 innings. If that is it, I hope he remains angry about the Team Puerto Rico “snub” for a long time, though I suspect Dave Duncan might be due for a bit of credit if this continues.
Josh Kinney – Another quiet worker. Has 11 Ks in 10 1/3 innings, but has been a bit wild with four walks and 2 HBPs. Opposing hitters are managing just a .143 average against him.
Brian Barden – While Joe Thurston has received 66 ABs to Barden’s 43, the latter is batting .372 and is the team’s leading pinch-hitter, having gone 3-for-5 in that role. This decision may come down to the wire, with Thurston’s left-handed bat on a team with no switch-hitters perhaps giving him an edge.
Allen Craig and Jon Jay – Though neither should see time in St. Louis this summer, both of these youngsters hit up a storm, with the former batting .444 and the latter .349. With Freese in St. Louis, Craig should receive more time at third base than first with Memphis. In my view, Jay could be caught as a fourth/fifth outfielder with not quite enough glove to play center and not quite enough power to start in the corners. Yet in all fairness, when Jay gets to a ball, it ends up in the leather. He has yet to err in 231 career minor league games.
P.J. Walters – Same as his two Memphis teammates above, but Walters may contribute to the Cardinals 2009 season. Only one earned run given up in nine big-league innings this spring. Watch his Friday start with the major leaguers carefully.
Look at these lines:
Both players are right-handed outfielders, but one is assured of a job while the other is trying to stick. Player one is Ryan Ludwick while player two is Joe Mather. The spring similarities are striking. RBI counts are second and tied for third on the team, respectively. The biggest difference? One is assured of making the team, while two is not.
Colby Rasmus (pictured) – Leads the team in stolen bases, going 4-for-4, double the next best players. He is second in walks with 12, trailing only Albert, who is tied for the NL lead with 15. That translates to a .370 OBP for Colby despite a .275 batting average. The concerning: 23 strikeouts in 80 at-bats and some defensive bumps while learning the corner outfield positions on the fly.
Troy Glaus – Zero-for-everything. There is really nothing more to say. Even when he does return, the power may be slow to follow. Think second half and you may not be disappointed again.
Ryan Franklin – He has done nothing to show me he can convert saves in a pinch. A continuing problem is two home runs allowed in 10 1/3 innings and an ERA over five. Scored upon in three of his last four outings. He does have an uncharacteristic 11 strikeouts though.
Kyle Lohse – With $41 million on the way to his bank account, expectations are higher. He has allowed nine home runs this spring, tied for the most in all of the major leagues. Sure, the wind is blowing hard in Florida, but if he can’t keep the ball down and in the park, look out. 10 earned runs given up over his last three starts.
Kyle McClellan – He has been a mess this spring, yet seems destined to work out his problems in major league games out of the pen in April. Eight walks and eight strikeouts, an opposing batting average of .333 and 17 earned runs in 17 innings. You can do the ERA math. Four earned runs over his last four outings is actually showing some slight improvement, but there is still a ways to go.
Brad Thompson – Hasn’t been given much work in the games that count with only 14 MLB innings pitched. 5.14 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 6:5. Had only one scoreless outing in six. Needs improvement to hold off the young bucks challenging from Memphis.
Todd Wellemeyer – His four long balls yielded this spring pale in comparison to Lohse, but that has been in just 22 innings. His K:BB ratio is a solid 14:4, but the bottom line is an ERA of 7.36. Trend is bad with 13 runs allowed in last three starts. I will be watching his results against Florida on Thursday carefully.
On the radio
In a programming note, catch me on KMA Radio 960 in Shenandoah, IA talking Cardinals baseball with Derek Martin this weekend. There will be a five-minute segment run on Friday at 5:50 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. The entire discussion is scheduled at 12:10 p.m. on Saturday. (All times Central)
KMA is a member of the Cardinals Radio Network and stream their signal online at KMA960.com.