Mar 4, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Justin Upton (10) follows through on a swing against the Seattle Mariners during a spring training baseball game at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Reason #3 Everyone Is Still Trying to Find Their Groove
Having played lots of baseball myself, I know that it takes a while to feel comfortable hitting or throwing at the very beginning of the season. You need to develop a routine and rhythm. I took what I figured to be the top ten hitters of 2014 and looked at their spring stats. Some had great springs but others took a long time to get going.
Jose Altuve led the universe last year with a .341 average. He only hit .254 in the spring, almost 100 points worse. Victor Martinez had a breakout year for the Tigers with 32 home runs. He didn’t hit a single home run in his 21 spring games. Nelson Cruz had a league high 40 home runs last year with 108 RBI. He didn’t hit a single home run either and only had four RBIs in 14 spring games.
The best example, was David Ortiz. He continued to fight father time last year, blasting 35 home runs. During spring training though? One home run and one hit for an abysmal .054 average. That’s two for 37.
Matt Kemp hit 23 home runs in 2012 with a .303 average in the regular season, but in the spring he only hit .262 with two home runs. Justin Upton had a great year last season as well with 29 home runs and a .270 average, but last March he hit a meager .218 with three home runs.
So if Kemp starts out hitting below .250, nobody freak out. If Tyson Ross has an ERA near five, peace be unto you. If Upton doesn’t hit another home run and strikes out a lot, everyone just calm down. It’s only March. These things happen. A crappy spring does not indicate a poor season, just as a hot spring does not guarantee an MVP season.
Just be glad these guys are getting reps and batting practice, and not on the disabled list. The more cuts and reps they get in March, the more comfortable they will feel when things start to really count in April.
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