Friday, February 25, 2011

Small Sample Size Fun: Spring Training Warning Edition

The Giants Spring Training slate kicks off today against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Scottsdale Stadium. It's a beautiful thing and it marks the beginning of the 2011 season, but as fans, we must resist the temptation to put too much weight on these games.

The exhibition schedule is 36 games long, with a bunch of players sharing time, working on new things, and getting back into the swing of the baseball grind. It's not the time to make drastic decisions based on little information just because there are some games going on.

What a player does in 30 something games and maybe a hundred at-bats doesn't tell you a whole lot. A player could ride a lucky streak and look like an All-Star only to fall flat on their face once the real season starts and the games actually count.

You could point to Spring Training all-star last year with John Bowker (I still have a man crush on him and that worries some people), who led the Giants in hitting and looked like he was the second coming of Barry Bonds. You could look at the struggles of Madison Bumgarner last season in the Spring that caused so many people to overreact and proclaim him done, only to see him fix his mechanical flaw and come back even stronger.

If Brandon Belt goes 0-3 with 3 strikeouts, don't proclaim him a bust. If Aaron Rowand hits .400 with 6 homers, don't point to all that cycling he did in the offseason as the reason he is no longer broken (actually, if he does do that, try to sell that story to another GM).

Spring Training is a time for hope and optimism, but what we shouldn't do is look at a breakout in the Spring or a bad showing as the last word on a player. The short window of exhibition games is, at best, a supplement to analyzing what a player has done up to this point in their career and not a replacement.

Lets enjoy the Spring and the return of baseball but always remember to take the results with a grain of salt.

If you're on Twitter, you should definitely follow The Crazy Crabbers. If you're not, you should really consider joining; lots of good stuff going on there.

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