Games. Glorious games. I know that they’re only Spring Training games, but at this point I don’t care. Baseball is finally back. Reports from Surprise, Arizona are heading back east from a variety of sources. We’re past the phase of Spring Training where the only information is who is in what kind of shape. We have hits, doubles, homeruns, strikeouts and thank God in heaven we have boxscores, beautiful boxscores.
I know that few numbers in baseball mean less than those that come from Spring Training, but so what? I love digging into the statistics of the game and trying to tease out new and interesting information. There will be plenty of time for that once the real season starts, or even after a number of spring games are completed. At this point, I’m reminded that baseball is starting it’s re-entry into my life. Not that it ever actually left, there were trades and off-season signings to keep me mindful of the sport, but it’s just the periphery.
I love baseball because of the game, the pitcher and batter battle, the fielding plays, the typically warm summer air and some green grass in that familiar shape. The stuff in the periphery can finally be shoved aside and put where it belongs. For now, we have games.
So what have we learned from these two games?
It seems destined that barring an injury, Melky Cabrera will be the Opening Day center fielder. He has started both of the games so far and batted in the second spot in the lineup. Dayton Moore apparently promised Cabrera that he would be the starter and he won’t go back on that. What I’ll never understand is why on earth the promise had to be made in the first place. Did Cabrera have a lot of teams vying for his rather poor skillset? Even if the Royals do break their promise, is there truly a free agent out there that will refuse to sign a contract with the Royals because Melky Cabrera didn’t get enough playing time? I highly doubt it.
Mike Aviles has led off both games so far. That shocks the hell out of me. Baseball men think in terms of the “traditional” lineup, and that means a fast guy leads off. Dayton Moore on a number of occasions has talked of building the ball club in terms of lineup spots, which is typical but makes me cringe. Aviles isn’t anyone’s idea of a traditional lead off hitter, but I like him at the spot. He is one of the teams most proven hitters, and should be up there as often as possible. I doubt it will last, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
I expect to see lots of runs scored, especially in the early part of Spring Training. The climate and altitude of Arizona are conducive to a high run scoring environment. However, batters are also typically ahead of the pitchers. It’s much easier to get back in the groove of hitting a baseball than it is pitching it. Also, pitchers are typically working on things and getting a feel for certain pitches while hitters are just doing what they do. Spring Training can be a time for pitchers to try and hone a curveball or changeup that they haven’t thrown well in the past. In order to do that, they need to keep throwing it even if it is getting crushed. So pitching lines are some of the least important and unreliable stats in the spring.
Speaking of those runs being scored, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer both drove balls out of the park yesterday. The official Royals blog has some excellent pictures of the young prospects in action. Word on the street is that they were absolute bombs too, not long fly balls that just cleard the fence. What’s that you say? Jeff Francoeur hit a homerun on Sunday? Meh.
Has anything jumped out at you so far during the Spring? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, we still have a few open spots for the Royals Authority live event at The Well if your interested. Just drop me an email and reserve your spot.