Baseball, like a flower, blooms in the spring. They also share equally effusive PR people. Just the other day I read about how a petunia’s branches gained 15 pounds and was in the best shape of its life. Sure, it’s always good to look at spring training numbers to give you an idea what you can expect from guys during the season — can I draft Jarred Kelenic yet?! Dude is mashing like the ball’s a potato! Players in spring training are facing the top pitchers who are all displaying their best stuff. No one needs time to get warmed up. No one’s trying new pitches or getting a feel for the ball. They are at the height of their game in the beginning of March. Our former commissioner, Bud, once doffed his toupee and tried to have the World Series played in March. That’s the true pioneer of a sped-up game. Forget the pitch clock, just play the World Series at Spring Training. Since these spring training numbers mean so much, I decided to look at some players stats so far:
Edward Olivares – When I mouth the words “olive juice” I’m not saying “Olive juice” or “I love you.” I’m saying Olivares, that’s how much I love him. I wrote an Edward Olivares fantasy sleeper, so you know this love be real. He has three homers and is hitting .500 in the spring! Let’s go!
Jose Rojas – Three homers and hitting .444? That’s Jose not Josh? Wow, don’t I feel red-faced! Well, Josh darn it, there’s a new Rojas in town!
Keston Hiura – Four homers and a .393 average?! Like a teenager’s face, the break out is here!
Nick Pivetta – Leads the majors in strikeouts with 22 and I’d buy that for a dollar or three!
MacKenzie Gore – Has a 0.92 WHIP and someone get me a handkerchief that I can put to my forehead so I can faint.
Okay, stop. This is such nonsense. Now we get to grade everyone’s reading comprehension because these are LAST YEAR’S spring training stats. If someone can read everything but capped words, I apologize in advance if you draft Keston Hiura. (I DON’T.) I like to do this post every year because every year I get the same comments about how well a player is doing in the spring and if I’m going to change my fantasy baseball rankings because of it. Spring training stats are a joke. They mean nothing. Let me say it again for emphasis, spring stats mean nothing.
The only takeaway from Spring Training stats: Are those stats helping a guy win an every day job?
Kyle Higashioka had the best spring training in the history of spring trainings last year, and that led him to do what last year? He couldn’t even keep the starting job away from Jose Trevino! How did Jose Rojas do? I still like Edward Olivares, because daddy can’t quit that, but was he good last year? Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez were Tweedle-blech and Tweedle-oh-boy.
Yoan Moncada was talking about stealing 40 bags last spring. Sure, just like he did the spring before, and the spring before that. Willy Adames had one of the worst springs last year, and went on to be a top 40 guy overall on the Player Rater. Cody Bellinger was awful last spring and, well, he remained awful. Patrick Corbin went on to do what? Woodruff went on to do what? That guy in 4th grade class who peed himself went on to do what? Seriously, you should only be looking at who’s healthy, who’s winning position battles, and who’s winning rotation spots. The rest is meaningless. With that said, things I am seeing in Spring Training that have affected my thinking:
Grayson Rodriguez – This is going to be a common theme for the guys who I am seeing something from in the spring. I rank in November and release on the Patreon in December. There’s just no way I can be on top of everyone months before Spring Training. So far I have Grayson Rodriguez in multiple leagues, his top 500 ranking is still fine, but it might not fully convey how excited I am for him. I gave you a Grayson Rodriguez fantasy that I wrote back in October, but people might forget how special he will be. People not paying that minuscule price right now of 200 ADP are very silly people. They’re gonna look back in May and be like, “Hunh, guess I didn’t need to draft the 500-year-old J.D. Martinez.” Draft Grayson Rodriguez in every league.
Jordan Walker – Wrote a Jordan Walker fantasy way back in October, and released in November. I loved him then, just didn’t know the playing time. My Cards’ contact told me recently the Cards are intentionally putting Walker in a position where he can break with the team. Ideally, that’s exactly what they would want. He is a young Giancarlo or Judge, and I love him. If you need any convincing, watch him for literally one at-bat. Go to my outlook post that I linked to and watch the video in there. Not to gild the hype lily too much with Jordan Walker, but people tripping over themselves to try to find this year’s Julio Rodriguez while drafting Andrew Benintendi in front of Jordan Walker are very funny. I had Walker ranked too low in my rankings, and moved him way up in my 3rd basemen rankings. You should be drafting Jordan Walker in every league. If you need to drop him in April, then so be it. Upside is worth it.
Oswald Peraza – So, this one sucks, because I was so close. They have practically the same name! But I think I messed up my love for Oswaldo vs. Oswald. One freakin’ letter off! I still like Cabrera, but the Yankees seem like they might give Peraza the everyday job and Oswaldo Cabrera is not being giving the same kind of reps. I’ve updated my shortstop rankings to reflect this. I stand by Cabrera is better than Aaron Hicks, but I can’t convince Aaron Boone, and I’m standing outside his hotel, screaming, “Boo Boone,” dressed as a monkey but it’s not working.