First Pitch: Changes From Spring Training to the Regular Season

It’s always interesting to see the changes from Spring Training to the regular season. Some players come out of Spring Training looking great, then immediately struggle to start the season. Some players come out of Spring Training looking horrible, then look dominant at the start of the year. Then there’s some players who stay the same, good or bad.

Tim Alderson is one of the guys who looked much improved in Spring Training. So far he’s carried that success over to the regular season, even getting an early season promotion to Triple-A.

The international hitters in West Virginia have also carried over a strong Spring Training to the regular season. I was impressed with Alen Hanson, and had Gregory Polanco as a breakout candidate due to his hot hitting throughout the Spring. Both are off to great starts in low-A.

Then there’s the guys who looked great, but have struggled during the regular season. Alex Dickerson was playing against high-A teams, and sometimes against Double-A teams. In the final weeks of the Spring, when rosters are pretty much set, Dickerson was dominating high-A pitching. Then he entered the season and immediately saw his power disappear. He’s seen that return in the last two games, with a double and a home run on Sunday, and a home run on Monday. Those were his only extra base hits of the year.

Stetson Allie showed improved command this Spring. He did struggle with his control later in extended outings, but anyone who saw him throughout the year last year, and saw him this Spring, could tell the difference. But in his first two outings during the season, he has shown no control at all. I’ll have more on Allie on the site this week.

Matt Hague had a hot Spring, then went 1-for-9 in the majors, and has a .208 average and a .490 OPS in 24 at-bats since going down to Triple-A.

It could just be a sample size issue. The question is, which small sample size is legit? If a player gets off to a hot start in the Spring then fades when the season starts, is that a case where the Spring Training stats don’t matter, or is that a case where the player is just getting off to a slow start?

Typically I give more credit to the guys who are doing what they did in Spring Training. If a player was a strong performer in the Spring, and carried that over to the regular season, I’d tend to trust it, as I do with Alderson and the West Virginia international hitters. If a player struggles in the Spring, and also struggles during the start of the season, I’d also trust that. For the other cases, where the two different small sample sizes don’t match up, I’d want to wait for a bigger sample size before coming to a conclusion.

As for why the changes happen, it’s one of the great mysteries of baseball.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates were postponed today. They will play a double header on Wednesday.

**Prospect Watch: Alex Dickerson hits his second homer in as many nights. Stefan Welch hit two homers.

**Pitch F/X preview of the Colorado Rockies’ probable starters.

**This Week’s Draft Prospects Rundown.

**Pirates Notebook: Another Lefty Could Join the Bullpen.

**Prospect Trends for the Week Ending 4/22.

**Sunday’s Prospect Notebook: Tim Alderson Needs to Earn a Spot in the Rotation.

About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • szielinski

    Grossman and Marte have cooled off since the season began. Cole has had his troubles too.