Aaron Poreda's Wildness and the Meaninglessness of Spring Training Stats

Padres fans may have noticed the boxscore of one of the team’s spring training games today contained one of the more ghastly pitching statlines you’ll see.

Aaron Poreda failed to get an out, allowed seven runs (six earned), gave up three hits, and also walked three batters.

Horrible performance, right?

It’s easy to picture Poreda giving up that line. He’s a power pitcher who has suffered through bouts of wildness in the past, so it’s easy to imagine him falling behind in the count quickly, walking batters, and giving up some hard-hit balls in hitters counts.

And indeed, that is exactly what happened.

Poreda threw 20 balls and just twelve strikes, and gave up two stinging line drive singles. To be fair, he also allowed a fluke broken-bat bloop single to Jhonny Peralta, and he also got a sure double-play ball that Everth Cabrera mishandled. It easily could have been just a two or three-run inning, although regardless of the outcome, Poreda simply did not pitch well at all.

That said, I’m not any more concerned about Poreda’s command (shaky as it is) now than I was before I saw that trainwreck of a performance.


Because I know that Aaron Poreda would never pitch the way he did today in a regular season game.

Last season, in his brief time in the majors, Poreda threw his fastball 85 percent of the time. It’s always been far and away his best pitch, so he uses it a lot.

Understandably, if Poreda was concerned about the outcome of a game (like he would in the regular season, when the games actually count), he would continue to lean heavily on the fastball–maybe not 85% of the time, but certainly very often.

That Aaron Poreda never materialized on Wednesday.

Poreda threw, by my count, 14 fastballs, 17 sliders, and one changeup.

Here are the results of those pitches:

Fastball: 5 balls, 4 strikes looking, 1 strike swinging, 1 foul ball, 1 liner to left, 1 broken-bat flare to center, one grounder to second

Slider:  14 balls, 2 strikes looking, 1 liner to left

Changeup: 1 ball

It’s pretty obvious what happened here.

Poreda needs to work on his secondary stuff, so he threw a disproportionate amount of sliders just to try to get a feel for the pitch–a feel he clearly didn’t have in this particular game, but would only impact 15-20% of his pitches in a normal game, rather than 55%.

At one point, he threw two sliders, a changeup, and then six more sliders. When Poreda has that pitch sequence pattern in a regular season game, let me know, because I don’t think we’re going to see it anytime soon.

Notice that Poreda got his fastball in the zone nine times, getting six strikes and inducing weak contact on two other occasions. The pitch is fine.

This is just a classic example of spring training stats meaning absolutely nothing. Poreda was deliberately playing to his weaknesses in order to improve down the line. Sure, he showed why his weaknesses are his weaknesses, but this outing does nothing to change his outlook for 2010.

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