In which we explain which statistics are important in the Cactus League.
Which statistics are important in the Cactus League? The ones that support your preconceived notions and opinions, stupid. Tim Lincecum striking out six in two innings of work is meaningful. Brandon Belt striking out twice in an 0-for-4 game is meaningless. Once you get the hang of where to apply your shifting standards, it's easy.
In the Giants' 9-9 tie (fleh) over the White Sox Monday, Cole Gillespie got two hits. Both of those hits were doubles. He drove in two runs, and he scored two runs. Now, if you're a slave to "logic," you'll note that this kind of performance means nothing. Less than nothing. Let's check out the third game of last spring:
Aubrey Huff homers (1) on a ball to right field.
Ayup. That'll prove the point nicely. But Gillespie is becoming one of my favorite picks for the roster, even if I've already typed his name as "Gillaspie" six times. So when he doubles twice, I'll pay attention. See? He's good. Look at his recent stats, everybody!
ZiPS takes his fancy Triple-A stats from Reno and spits out a .240/.319/.384 line (not adjusted for park), which combines with his defense to be worth a win. The Oliver projection system gets him closer to two wins because it likes his defense.
Of course, those totals are based on 500 plate apperances, or so. There's a slight chance -- and I'm just riffing here -- that Gillespie isn't so good.
But as a complement to Gregor Blanco, I like him a lot. It's not that Gillespie is a lefty masher. He hit lefties a little bit more than righties in Triple-A, but not enough to guarantee it wasn't a sample-size fluke. But as a true fifth outfielder, one who can run and field, filling in for a resting Blanco or molting Pence, he fits.
And why can't the Giants have a fifth outfielder? I've fallen into the need-another-utility-infielder trap, too. It almost feels like a battle between Kensuke Tanaka and Tony Abreu, but if Arias is on the roster, is the third shortstop necessary? Brett Pill can at least stand at an infield position and look quasi-presentable in an emergency. The early grumblings about Tanaka's inability to play short were kind of a downer until you realized it shouldn't matter. Number of innings Ryan Theriot played at short last year: 0. That's how much the Giants relied on a third shortstop.
If the 25th spot on the roster doesn't have to go to a guy who hits like a middle infielder, then, why not go for a right-handed hitter, regardless of where he plays? And considering that he plays a position already filled with a left-handed hitter of dubious ability, I'm warming up to the idea.
And he was 2-for-3 today. With a couple of doubles. Which obviously means something.
Kind of looking forward to a rotation battle next spring, folks. But until then, I'm preordering parts and tools to build the Cole Gillespie bandwagon. I'm certainly not going to ride on the damn thing, but at least there will be proof that it existed before any of the other ones when he homers in the NLDS.