Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Quick Look at Spring Training in Astros history

There have been a few articles over the past few days about the validity of Spring Training stats, so I thought we might take a look at how the Astros leaders in hitting and pitching in Spring Training fared in the regular season. Let's take a gander, shall we?


Among players with at least 40 at-bats, Rick Ankiel (46 PAs) led the way with a .413/.463/.826 slash line - ten of his 19 hits went for extra-bases. He did strike out twelve times, with five walks. And among pitchers who threw at least 20IP, Phil Humber led the way with a 1.73 ERA/0.77 WHIP, allowing 14H/5ER, 16K:6BB in 26IP.

In the regular season, Ankiel lasted 25 games of hitting .194/.231/.484, striking out in 35 of his 65 plate appearances before he was let go by the Astros. And in 17 appearances (seven starts) Humber labored to a 7.90 ERA/1.74 WHIP.


Only three pitchers threw at least 20IP in Spring 2012 (Kyle Weiland, Jordan Lyles, and Wandy Rodriguez), so if we lower it to 15IP we find that Lucas Harrell allowed 13H/4ER, 6K:4BB in 16.2IP spring innings, for a 2.16 ERA/1.02 WHIP. Chris Johnson played in 20 games (62 PAs), hitting .355/.375/.710, but struck out 14 times to two walks. He rapped out seven doubles and five homers.

Of course 2012 was Good Lucas Harrell, in which he posted a 3.76 ERA/1.3 WHIP and a 107 ERA+.  Unbelievably, Chris Johnson was unable to maintain a 1.000 OPS for an entire season, and was traded to Arizona after hitting .279/.329/.428 in 92 games for Houston.


Among players with 50+ ABs, outfielder Jason Michaels led the way with a .373/.409/.610 Spring in 59 ABs. He hit eight doubles and two home runs, and 12 singles to go along with them. Meanwhile, in 14.1 spring innings pitched, Enerio Del Rosario allowed 9H/0ER, with 11K:3BB for a 0.00 ERA/0.84 WHIP.

Michaels parlayed that Spring Training success into a .199/.256/.295 slash line. He hit two homers in the Spring, and two in the regular season, and had one more double in 169 regular season PAs than he had in 59 Spring PAs. Del Rosario did appear in 54 regular season games for the Astros in 2011 with a 4.58 ERA/1.70 WHIP. He walked just as many batters as he struck out (31).


Once again Chris Johnson became the March Hero, leading the offensive charge for hitters with more than 20 ABs, hitting .323/.391/.790. Johnson launched eight home runs in 62 ABs, with 15K:6BB. And Of the pitchers who threw 10+IP in 2010's Spring Training, Casey Daigle allowed just one earned run in 15.2IP, and his 0.57 ERA was better even than Roy Oswalt, and Daigle also struck out 17 batters to one walk. 

Johnson actually got his first real shot in 2010, and in 94 games hit .308/.337/.481 with 11HR, 91K:15BB in 362 PAs. Daigle threw 10.1IP for the Astros in 13 regular season games. He gave up 25H/13ER, with 6K:6BB for a robust 11.32 ERA/3.00 WHIP and a 36 ERA+.

I'm going to stop here, because this is depressing. But let's not forget that every Spring Training produces stats for guys who are Doing Their Thing against Double-A and Triple-A players. You think Curtis Granderson is ready for the season now that he has hit two homers off Rudy Owens and Jorge De Leon?