The phrase “Spring Training numbers mean nothing!” has replaced the swallows returning to Capistrano as the surest harbinger of winter receding. It’s repeated everywhere and gained enough traction to be considered gospel in most quarters. It’s easy to understand why. Spring Training numbers have the misfortune of being small samples, compiled against a wide variety of players – many not MLB caliber – and often against guys who may be focusing on certain things more so than maximizing immediate results.
Still, we live in the real world and we don’t always get to work with the numbers we’d like, when we’d like. Given the choice between looking at no numbers or looking at Spring Training numbers – well, that’s a pretty easy decision. And given the choice between seeing guys on the team do well or do rotten, well, that’s another easy one.
Should we go out and load up on Brandon Nimmo rookie cards because he’s batting .476 so far this Spring? No, absolutely not. But if the choice was to see him hitting .476 or .076, we’d all want to see the former. Is it time to panic because Juan Lagares is hitting .059? No, absolutely not.
But here are things that perhaps do mean something.
Lucas Duda started in back-to-back games and has three doubles. There were serious questions about Duda, given all the time he missed last year. And then he missed the first week of Grapefruit League games and needed cortisone shots. But the fact that he started back-to-back games for just the second time since May is good to see. As with all of the players highlighted the rest of this piece, Duda will have to keep it up. But seeing him in the lineup and hitting the ball with some authority is certainly a good sign.
The Mets are hitting home runs. If you recall last year, the Mets really struggled to hit homers in Grapefruit League games, hitting just 17 HR in 30 games. It was a trait that followed them into the regular season. With a completely healthy team, the Mets hit just two homers in their first eight games and went 3-5. This year, the Mets have hit 12 HR in nine games. Last year, in late March, the eight starters for the Mets combined for 3 HR in 229 ABs. This year Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d’Arnaud and Neil Walker (2) have combined for 5 HR in 46 ABs.
Everyone expects the starting pitchers need to come through if the Mets are going to contend. While the Mets have been slow to give innings to their expected starters, the four guys who have pitched so far who will likely get starts – Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard – have combined for 11 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. Additionally, deGrom’s fastball hit 97, which is a far cry from where he was at this time last year.
Some other things that have been encouraging so far this Spring include: Gavin Cecchini seeing time at second base. We know the Mets aren’t going to play him at SS in the majors, so he should be getting the vast majority of his reps at the position where he can hopefully contribute in the bigs… Amed Rosario looking like he belongs… Michael Conforto hitting everything in sight… Addison Reed with two scoreless appearances… Marcos Molina on the mound healthy… Potential mid-year call-up Paul Sewald getting outs… Two minor league guys who put themselves on the map with strong years in 2016, P.J. Conlon and Corey Taylor, combining for eight scoreless innings despite not pitching above A-ball previously.
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