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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dewan: Who are this year’s possible breakout players based on spring training numbers?

And watch Bill James post possible breakout Nielsen numbers on 60 Minutes this Sunday night!

A few years ago we discovered that there is a way to use spring training stats to predict future performance. We took all spring training hitters and found that, as expected, about half of them do better than their career norms in the upcoming season, and about half of them do worse than their career norms. However, when we chose only those players doing exceptionally well in spring training, we found that about three-fourths of them performed better than their career average during the upcoming season.

Our definition of “exceptionally well” was slugging 100 points higher in spring training than their previous career slugging percentage. Here’s the list of players who are currently 200 points higher so far this spring training. These 24 players might be heading for above-average seasons.

Repoz Posted: March 27, 2008 at 01:31 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: projections, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. xeifrank Posted: March 27, 2008 at 02:51 PM (#2721620)
100 points higher with how many at bats?
vr, Xei
   2. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: March 27, 2008 at 02:53 PM (#2721627)
How much did they exceed their career SLG in the regular season by?
   3. regfairfield Posted: March 27, 2008 at 03:49 PM (#2721681)
What about park factors? Ethier's slugging percentage is certainly helped by playing in the most home run freindly park in baseball.
   4. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: March 27, 2008 at 04:05 PM (#2721694)
How many other studies are there on this topic? It seems like we go through this charade every year, which I guess isn't too surprising.
   5. Tricky Dick Posted: March 27, 2008 at 04:13 PM (#2721702)
Perhaps some sort of age variable should have been considered...or perhaps used as a cut off. Or else, find another term besides "breakout candidate." I can't imagine Pudge Rodriguez, Melvin Mora, or Ray Durham having a breakout season at their ages.
   6. JoeHova Posted: March 27, 2008 at 04:21 PM (#2721708)
3 Brewers but 2 are Cameron and Counsell. Well, I'll take Gwynn, I guess.


uggh, just noticed there's an ad for a mike lupica book at the bottom of the page. unclean!
   7. aberg Posted: March 27, 2008 at 04:30 PM (#2721718)
Can Hamilton really be considered a breakout candidate? He pretty much had the best season anyone could have imagined for him last year. I can't blame the Reds for selling high, but if he really has more room to grow, he could be a tremendous player.
   8. CrosbyBird Posted: March 27, 2008 at 04:55 PM (#2721740)
The chart says 200 career AB and 35 spring AB minimum.

A guy with a .250 BA and a .417 slugging that hits three more HR against minor-league pitchers and major-leaguers trying out new pitches ends up with a .333 BA and a .667 SLG in 36 AB.

Still, the author of the article said that just by looking at the guys who had 100 points more of SLG in spring training compared to their careers, about three-quarters did better than average in the regular season. Hopefully the author will make an appearance because I'd love to see the methodology of that original study.
   9. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 27, 2008 at 05:03 PM (#2721742)
Still, the author of the article said that just by looking at the guys who had 100 points more of SLG in spring training compared to their careers, about three-quarters did better than average in the regular season. Hopefully the author will make an appearance because I'd love to see the methodology of that original study.

Sheehan referenced this study the other day too, so it's not exclusive to Dewan's site. Don't know where it came from.

FWIW, the list is pretty old, alot of those guys probably aren't .200 points over their career averages now. Cano isn't anymore at least, but he's still at .604 or someting.
   10. RobertMachemer Posted: March 27, 2008 at 05:22 PM (#2721757)
Still, the author of the article said that just by looking at the guys who had 100 points more of SLG in spring training compared to their careers, about three-quarters did better than average in the regular season. Hopefully the author will make an appearance because I'd love to see
Indeed. Though I'm sure this isn't actually the case, I still have a nagging suspicion that the study consisted of four players who slugged that well in spring training, three of whom hit better than their career average in the regular season...
   11. galaxieboi Posted: March 27, 2008 at 05:24 PM (#2721760)
uggh, just noticed there's an ad for a mike lupica book at the bottom of the page. unclean!


Hah. I was at [corporate bookstore] last week buying the new BPro and some kid was walking around holding Lupica's book. I wanted to shake him and ask, 'What's wrong with you?!'. But I believe his mother would've protested. Pity.
   12. BDC Posted: March 27, 2008 at 05:29 PM (#2721762)
There is, FWIW, a huge difference between Lupica's adult novels, which are unpleasant to say the least, and his juvenile novels, which are pretty standard, actually fairly tolerant and intelligent. You might almost think they were written by different people, but of course that can't be the case, no established writer would ever hire a ghost to do kids' books under his name.
   13. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 27, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2721767)
Hah. I was at [corporate bookstore] last week buying the new BPro and some kid was walking around holding Lupica's book. I wanted to shake him and ask, 'What's wrong with you?!'. But I believe his mother would've protested. Pity.


Actually, most towns have local ordinances now, allowing a low level of force to be used against a random person holding Lupica's book.
   14. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 27, 2008 at 05:56 PM (#2721778)
Lupica's adult novels


Before I realized what you meant by that I had some pretty bad thoughts go through my head about what kind of books those are.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: March 27, 2008 at 06:50 PM (#2721815)
Yeah, I want to see age controls. From that list that Snyder, Sizemore, Anderson (he can't slug worse), Upton, Aybar (even moreso than Anderson), Granderson, Butler, Gwynn (see Anderson), and Ethier wouldn't surprise me at all given they're developing or in their prime (and so their career numbers are pre-prime). Hamilton and Cano substantially topping their career SLGs would be major steps forward into real stardom.

And I'm curious about the original study too. Clearly it uses ML career SLG which is kinda silly for some of these guys. Sounds like it probably only uses the upcoming season MLB stats -- young guys and really old guys who tank during the spring mostly aren't getting MLB roster spots (out of spring training).

Anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if improving young players tear it up during spring training then go out and beat their "career" 420 SLGs.
   16. Greg Franklin Posted: March 27, 2008 at 09:49 PM (#2721960)
Anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if improving young players tear it up during spring training then go out and beat their "career" 420 SLGs.

Yup. When I saw the list, I skimmed it, then took a deeper look to make sure Mike Morse was there. He was! Mike Freakin' Morse!

Sorry, this seems to be the Gary Scott Memorial List of Fluky Performances, sponsored by Voros' Law.

uggh, just noticed there's an ad for a mike lupica book at the bottom of the page. unclean!

Good one. But at least it ain't the work of CHB.
   17. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 27, 2008 at 10:06 PM (#2721973)
I too can use a method to predict that BJ Upton will outperform his career averages, though my method simply consists of pointing out that he's 23 and SLG'd .508 last year so even if the BA comes down before the strikeouts do he's still very likely to SLG better than .442 in 2008.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: March 27, 2008 at 11:19 PM (#2721997)
I don't remember the original study exactly, but I remembered it referenced Andruw Jones a couple of years ago before he hit 50 homeruns (not sure if it was a backwards looking example or not though)

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