How To Use Spring Training Stats Fantasy Baseball: The Game Day asked some of its fantasy baseball writers to answer some of the biggest fantasy baseball questions ahead of the 2021 season.
- Read our complete 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for draft tips, sleeper picks, busts to avoid, and more.
How do you factor Spring Training stats into your fantasy baseball draft prep?
JUAN CARLOS BLANCO: I try to weigh positive spring training stats against the caliber of competition they were compiled against. When possible, I also look to dig a bit deeper to determine if players seem to be successfully addressing some issues that plagued them the season prior. For example, I’ll check to see if a slugger who had a considerable problem with strikeouts got through spring making much more consistent contact.
On the pitching side, I’ll pay attention to whether a player for whom control/location was a real albatross the year before seems to be much more locked in. Naturally, we’re dealing with small samples in spring, but I tend to give signs of improvement a decent amount of weight, especially if it’s in targeted areas.
That said, I personally tend to be a bit more forgiving with negative stats unless there seems to be an injury at play. Hitters can sometimes just take a bit to get the timing down, while pitchers often experiment with different pitches and mechanics during the exhibition slate.
KEV MAHSEREJIAN: I do not factor in Spring Training stats whatsoever. Small sample noise with a variety of lineups featuring minor leaguers does nothing.
All I care about from Spring Training is health and whether a player is not limited in any which way. It would be like adding Spring Training record to the regular season. The Pirates could be undefeated Spring Training champs and I wouldn’t bat an eye.
JOSH SHEPARDSON: In isolation, Spring Training stats don’t move the needle for my player rankings.
However, a power outburst for a hitter or strikeout surge for a pitcher prompts me to head to Twitter and my favorite search engine to hunt for news of a launch angle/swing adjustment and velocity spike/addition of a new pitch to the pitcher’s repertoire, respectively.
Without tangible reasoning for the statistical improvement, I’m skeptical of it carrying over to the regular season. On the other hand, if the hypothetical players in question are late-round options or going undrafted, I’ll consider taking a stab at them or adding them to my watch list to monitor their early-season data.
TAYLOR TARTER: I try not to focus too much on Spring Training stats, except for a handful of players.
Normally, I want to see if players who struggled in the previous season have tweaked something in their swing or delivery and have improved. I watch to see if a pitcher’s velocity is way down or is dealing with command or control issues.
It’s hard to evaluate players in Spring Training because oftentimes they are working on a specific thing – a pitcher might throw only changeups or Trevor Bauer might pitch with one eye closed – so it’s hard to put stock in their stats. I look for other things instead.
FRANK AMMIRANTE: Spring Training stats are important if they show a new skill for a player. For example, if a starting pitcher has been successful in Spring Training while trying out a new pitch, then you need to bump them up in your rankings.
If a hitter gets off to a hot streak in spring, that’s always great to see, but it should only result in a minor upgrade. However, in the case of players coming off disappointing seasons, strong springs are great because it shows that the player is on the right track. For example, Joey Gallo is on fire right now, which is good news considering his poor season in 2020.
Spring Training stats are also important for prospects trying to crack a big-league roster. Starting pitchers like Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners have looked great, which bodes well for their chances of making an impact in 2021.
A lot of these 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Tips apply to in-season play, too. Use this insight to create the best daily fantasy baseball lineups and picks for the 2021 MLB season.
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