What Do Michael Martinez's Stats Really Tell Us About Spring Training?

What Do Michael Martinez's Stats Really Tell Us About Spring Training?

Indians

What Do Michael Martinez's Stats Really Tell Us About Spring Training?

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<![CDATA[Every new year when spring training begins there is this renewed sense of hope and unrivaled optimism by fans of nearly every team that they could be the ones cheering their team on in the postseason or the World Series. For Indians fans, the optimism is the highest it's been since 2008 when expectations were high for the Indians to repeat as central division champions.

Each spring training also seems to bring with it talk of a player, or players, utterly dominating or absolutely failing in regards to their production on the field during these exhibition games and then being hopeful or concerned that those performances might mean something for the regular season.

So far this spring, several non-roster invitees lead the team offensively this spring. Infielder Nellie Rodriguez hit .667 (4-for-6) through the first six games and was also tied for the team-lead with three runs scored. Rodriguez's four hits were tied with Daniel Robertson and Michael Martinez for the team-high. Notably, Martinez hit .400 (4-for-10) through four Cactus League games with two extra-base hits (double & HR) and two runs scored.

It’s only natural to seek meaning in spring training statistics, especially in a guy we all want to see succeed in Martinez. By the time spring games roll around, we’re baseball-starved enough to believe anything. We’re also preparing for fantasy drafts, which means we’re always on the lookout for any info that could give us an edge. And contrary to the popular stat-head saying, spring training stats aren’t actually meaningless; they’re just less meaningful, compared to a same-sized sample of big-league performance. Any change in a player’s performance should produce a corresponding (albeit small) change in our projection for that player. The more extreme that change in performance is, and the larger the sample, the more that projection shifts.

Instead of nitpicking about how he can state that spring training is a time for players to “shake off the cobwebs, work themselves back into shape and regain their hitting strokes and pitching mechanics” while compiling a list of most disappointing players this spring, I’m instead going to look at players with 75 at-bats or more who performed the best and the worst in previous springs to determine if spring stats mean anything relative to regular season performance.

The reason I am only looking at hitters for this research is because it’s common knowledge that pitchers routinely work on specific things throughout the spring and as a result their ERA’s, WHIP’s, and other statistics are artificially inflated in some form or fashion.

After filtering out all players who did not meet the requirement of 75 or more AB’s we are left with 98 total players from 2012 to 2016. Those players played in a total of 2,592 games and had 7,802 total AB’s. I did a comparison and ran a simple coefficient analysis on metrics such as batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage so we could see if there was in fact any correlation.

Stat

Correlation

AVG

.034

OBP

.002

SLG

.052

As you can see, there is no meaningful connection between spring training statistics and the subsequent regular season statistics for hitters. Even after looking at three different offensive metrics the highest correlation we have is with slugging percentage at just .052. The one thing I am surprised at is the fact that there wasn’t a higher correlation between spring training OBP and regular season OBP. If any particular skill would translate in any way I thought it would have been a player’s skill to get on base, but that’s clearly not the case as it has the lowest correlation of the three metrics measured.

While Martinez’s spring stats aren’t meaningless, they are not meaningful either.]]>

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