Spring statistics: a primer

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Say, have you noticed that spring stats aren't exactly predictive? Oh. Well, here's something else on that theme.

This isn't new information. This isn't news. This isn't a think piece. This isn't a conclusion in search of a theory. This is an obvious statement:

Spring stats are almost entirely useless.

You knew that. You're tapping your foot impatiently and waiting for another thesis. There isn't another thesis coming. But there is a point to all this. Because in the future, you'll get in an argument with someone who wants to use spring statistics in some capacity. Maybe it will be his or her entire argument. Maybe it will be the cherry atop his or her argument sundae. Maybe it'll be something he or she will throw in at the last second, acknowledging that spring stats don't meaning anything, so they're not saying, they're just saying.

Your job will be to give those people a link to this simple list. The 2013 season starts in a week. As of Sunday, March 24, there were 65 players with an OPS over 1.000 in more than 15 games this spring. There are a lot of them. I'll meet you at the bottom ...

Lew Ford (.438/.500/.719)
Steve Pearce (.343/.400/.857)
Leslie Anderson (.396/.420/.583)
Mark DeRosa (.471/.525/.735)
Jim Negrych (.429/.515/.750)
Jose Bautista (.255/.364/.638)
Melky Cabrera (.373/.396/.627)
Jordan Danks (.351/.429/.595)
Nick Castellanos (.360/.484/.560)
Tyler Collins (.345/.375/.655)
Matt Tuiasosopo (.318/.400/.705)
Mike Moustakas (.455/.483/.800)
Brandon Wood (.323/.344/.677)
Max Ramirez (.350/.447/.575)
Jason Castro (.382/.447/.882)
Brandon Laird (.319/.396/.660)
Rick Ankiel (.395/.442/.789)
Brandon Barnes (.306/.316/.694)
Chris Iannetta (.400/.455/.575)
Howie Kendrick (.481/.491/.889)
Mike Trout (.395/.527/.674)
Matt Young (.500/.560/.636)
Adam Rosales (.343/.489/.657)
Eric Sogard (.538/.600/.795)
Andy Parrino (.387/.457/.645)
Josh Reddick (.306/.390/.639)
Shane Peterson (.396/.453/.625)
Michael Morse (.349/.431/.837)
Justin Smoak (.408/.434/.796)
Elvis Andrus (.415/.467/.634)
Jeff Baker (.423/.464/.558)
Jim Adduci (.415/.489/.683)
Mitch Moreland (.420/.473/.760)
Evan Gattis (.388/.404/.796)
Tyler Pastornicky (.389/.459/.593)
Freddie Freeman (.348/.371/.712)
Christian Yelich (.364/.451/.818)
Kevin Kouzmanoff (.345/.387/.759)
Jordany Valdespin (.347/.396/.633)
Brian Bixler (.294/.415/.618)
Yuniesky Betancourt (.447/.451/.574)
Domonic Brown (.389/.450/.708)
Ryan Howard (.333/.370/.682)
Bryce Harper (.400/.431/.673)
David DeJesus (.386/.438/.568)
Brian Bogusevic (.410/.452/.692)
Joey Votto (.359/.468/.641)
Khristopher Davis (.319/.373/.723)
Jordy Mercer (.360/.553/.560)
Gaby Sanchez (.294/.375/.706)
Matt Carpenter (.365/.468/.538)
Shane Robinson (.469/.509/.796)
Aaron Hill (.419/.435/.628)
Gerardo Parra (.326/.354/.651)
Paul Goldschmidt (.412/.475/.549)
Nolen Arenado (.333/.333/.714)
Jonathan Herrera (.391/.417/.609)
Corey Dickerson (.375/.429/.583)
Ben Paulsen (.500/.552/.769)
Brian Barden (.517/.576/.621)
Yasiel Puig (.547/.527/.887)
Nick Hundley (.429/.467/.810)
Kyle Blanks (.357/.441/.625)
Hunter Pence (.352/.397/.630)
Brandon Belt (.433/.460/.900)

It's a beautiful list, filled with just the right mix of no-names and All-Stars. Some of those players will never have a good major-league season. Some of them might not get another major-league at-bat. I count eight players I've never heard of, and I've heard of a lot of baseball players. A hundred, at least. Yet there are also some familiar names up there that make you think, "Well, maybe they're for real …"

They're not for real. Unless they are. But you're sure as heck not going to know from the 30 or 40 at-bats this spring. Maybe a couple of the players up there have entered the next phase of their career. You can't tell who they are. They can't tell. Their coaches can't tell.

Just in case you were wondering, last year in the regular season exactly zero qualified players had an OPS over 1.000. Joey Votto came closest, but he had only 475 plate appearances. There was a guy who literally won the Triple Crown last year without an OPS over 1.000.

So let's practice. Pretend that an Internet ne'er-do-well is talking up a particular hitter. What do you do?

Example comment:
Well, Jason Bay sure is hitting the snot out of the ball this spring. I think whatever's wrong with him has been fixed.

Example response:
Oh. Jim Negrych.

Star-divide

Example comment
Evan Gattis … man, that kid has an interesting story, but more than that, apparently he can rake. What about platooning him with Brian McCann?

Example response
Interesting theory. But something something something something Brian Bixler.

Star-divide

Example comment
Say, Yasiel Puig looks like the greatest hitter to ever live. This will probably last for the next two decades.

Example response
Tyler Pastornicky. Eric Sogard. Tyler Pastornicky. Matt Tuiasosopo! Brian Barden? Shane Robinson.

Star-divide

Example comment
Ryan Howard looks outstanding this spring. He's back, baby. He's back.

Example response

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Star-divide

Example comment
Mike Trout is the truth of being. Let us hold hands and wait for him to ascend to the heavens with us.

Example response
Yes. I will hold your hands, brother, as we wait for Mike Trout to save this world from its own wickedness.

Star-divide

This will never end. Next spring there will be players who appear to have turned a corner, figured something out, or turned a corner while figuring something out. And the best part is that it all extends into April and May, too. But let's just focus on the spring for now. The next time you have someone telling you that a roster decision should be made because of a spring performance, link them here. Point out the 65 names. Close your laptop, and sleep until April. You've earned it.

Brandon Belt's stats are for real, though.

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