Pollis: Do spring training records matter?

From SABR member Lewie Pollis at Beyond the Box Score on March 27, 2012:

Spring training stats don’t tell you anything. The players are rusty, the games don’t count, and even the television carriers don’t recognize some of the players. It’s an easy mantra to adopt most of the year, but no matter how many times you mutter “small sample size” into a paper bag it’s hard to convince yourself that your favorite team’s ace isn’t in for a year of constant implosions after he walks two batters in his first appearance of the preseason.

Such overreactions are human nature. We long to find patterns where they don’t actually exist and make grandiose storylines out of minutia. Combine that with the emotional outburst we all experience when some form of baseball finally comes back and it’s no wonder we curl up into the fetal position when our teams start spring training 0-3.

Are such reactions wholly unwarranted? Obviously preseason numbers won’t tell you much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gain some knowledge from them—one game isn’t enough to differentiate between a .280 hitter and a .300 hitter, but no matter how small the sample size the better player is expected to enjoy greater success. So just how much do teams’ spring training results tell us about the upcoming season?

Read the full article here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2012/3/27/2905234/do-spring-training-records-matter

Originally published: March 28, 2012. Last Updated: March 28, 2012.