Joyce: Spring training’s one-hit wonders

From Tom Joyce at The Hardball Times on March 18, 2019:

Spring training represents a few things every February and March, among them the start of the baseball season and  hope for teams that have a chance to contend for a playoff spot. It also serves as an opportunity for many prospective players to make a positive impression on their organizations. This is true for players—young and old—hoping to make the roster out of camp, and for prospects and depth players, hoping to be called up later in the season.

It is common knowledge among baseball fans that spring training stats aren’t generally predictive of future performance. Pitchers often enter the spring behind their positional player brethren, but even very good hitters can stumble briefly before reaching great heights. In 2018, Mookie Betts went 0-for-16 to start his spring and yet ended up claiming the American League MVP Award. Meanwhile, country music singer Garth Brooks got a hit in his third at-bat of the spring in 2004 off Mike Myers—-who would go on to help the Boston Red Sox snap their 86-year World Series drought later that the year.

Brooks is not the only celebrity to see spring training action. Will Ferrell, Billy Crystal, Kevin Costner, Bruce Hornsby, Tom Selleck and even Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci have appeared in spring training action. Many spring training games are not on TV even in their local markets, a further indication of just how much the games count.

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Originally published: March 21, 2019. Last Updated: March 21, 2019.