You know that spring stats don't mean anything. Brian Sabean knows that spring stats don't mean anything. Bruce Bochy knows that spring stats don't mean anything.
But spring stats are just an abstract of spring performances. And Sabean and Bochy sure do put stock in spring performances. They're the same things as spring stats, but totally different. A spring batting average is useless, but a guy who is seeing the ball well means something. A guy with a few RBIs in an exhibition against the Dubuque Spartans probably isn't important, but a guy who is swinging a hot bat might be of value. As the month drags on, and you don't have anything else to glom onto, you could get sucked into it too. Spring performances are gateway drugs to nonsense.
You know this. But it helps to see some names from the past to clarify just how meaningless spring-training performances really are. Here's a select group of spring All Stars from years past.
Damon Minor - .408, 7 home runs, 12 RBI
Ah, Tiny. This was the spring after J.T. Snow hit .246/.371/.379, so I was guilty of Minor-mania. This spring emboldened me, and I became a radical.
Neifi Perez - .434, 2 HR, 10 runs scored
Should I even go on with the rest of the post? Neifi Perez hit .434 with a couple of dingers in the spring of 2003. That's going on a t-shirt, and I'm going to wear it to Scottsdale Stadium next week.
Tony Torcato - .378, 1 HR, 11 RBI
You know his swing looked good. You know that when he was getting those hits, he was "letting the ball get deep in the zone" and "turning his hips well." This was the year that Torcato was going to bust out, surely.
Brian Dallimore - .519, 6 doubles, 12 RBI
Awww. The Official Utility Player of Waiting for Boof. Such memories. I'll never get why players like Andy Fox or Willie Bloomquist stick around for a decade, but some players like Dallimore never get a chance to sit on a bench.
Barry Bonds -.478, 4 HR
Jason Ellison - .403, 2 HR, 5 doubles
Lance Niekro - .375, 3 HR, 20 RBI
There we go. Ellison and Niekro were legendary spring performers. Niekro's 20 RBI was the second-highest total in the past ten years for a spring. Ellison was the Ichiro of the Cactus League. Both of their spring performances meant nothing.
Todd Linden - .392, 40 total bases, 11 RBI
Lance Niekro - .387, 3 HR, 10 RBI
And like Damon Minor up there, I was all in on Linden. Figured he'd be the MVP one year. And I was right. Take that, professional talent evaluators.
Dave Roberts - .342, 8 runs scored
Bad year for fluky spring performances, but remember when the Giants signed Dave Roberts to play center field, and then it turned out he was a terrible center fielder? That was awesome.
Fred Lewis - .366, 7 doubles, 11 RBI
Brian Bocock - .350, 3 doubles
I think this was the year that Lewis parlayed that into a brief flirtation with being the team's #3 hitter. Because even though he showed Vizquelian power in the minors, there was some sort of power je ne sais quoi that he was about to unleash on the world.
Also, Brian Bocock.
Aaron Rowand - .429, 6 doubles, 10 RBI
John Bowker - .312, 6 HR, 23 RBI
That's 66.7% of the starting outfield, mind you. Rowand had his Philly groove back, and Bowker was setting spring RBI records.
Aubrey Huff, .362, 5 HR, 14 RBI
/drops the mic
A man who showed up in the best shape of Nick Nolte's life had a boffo spring. We were optimistic about Huff during that offseason, and the spring did nothing to dissuade us.
And it meant nooooootttttthing. Nothing. None of this means anything. You might think so, but nope. Sample noise. Pitchers-who-would-be-on-the-bottom-of-an-89-man-roster noise. Noise. Meaningless. Hopeless. All is lost. All is known. All is unknown. Spring stats will murder you and your family. Don't look into their eyes.
Friends ask about sleeper fantasy picks and here is a suggestion: Melky Cabrera looks like he's figured it out, and '11 wasn't a fluke.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 7, 2012