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Spring Training Stats That Matter (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Spring Training Stats That Matter (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Spring training is the first opportunity to see baseball players performing this season. It’s unwise to put too much stock in spring performances. Yet, ignoring spring training entirely isn’t a good process. Exiting spring training healthy is most important for players.

However, some stats are more meaningful than others. All stats should be taken with a grain of salt since there’s a mix of players ticketed for High-A and superstars playing against each other – saying nothing of the differing motivations for players. For instance, while a player on the fringe of making the Opening Day roster is laying it all on the line, an all-star caliber pitcher might use one of their lesser offerings in two-strike counts, hoping it can develop into a putaway pitch in the regular season.

Still, some stats stabilize earlier than others, enhancing their significance in the spring, all things being equal. Finally, while some critical spring training info isn’t statistics, it falls under the same umbrella and can drastically alter fantasy baseball outlooks for players.

Spring Training Stats That Matter (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Walk and Strikeout Rate

Walk and strikeout rates normalize fairly quickly for hitters and pitchers. According to Piper Slowinski’s piece at FanGraphs, strikeout rates normalize at approximately 60 plate appearances and walk rates do so at roughly 120 plate appearances for hitters. A few dozen batters can provide an idea of the legitimacy of a pitcher’s walk and strikeout rates.

The quality of competition isn’t captured for spring training walk and strikeout rates for hitters or pitchers. So, again, even these numbers shouldn’t be taken as gospel. In addition, if a pitcher has out of the ordinarily lousy walk or strikeout rates, it’s worth digging deeper for possible causes. Are they working on a new pitch? Is their velocity down?

Hitters

Ground ball and fly ball rates don’t take long to normalize. Additionally, Baseball Savant has launch-angle data. Not every spring training venue captures Statcast data. Still, many of the ballparks do track the data.

Not only will the venues that capture Statcast data offer launch-angle info, but they will also provide exit velocity data. If a player with massive raw power but too many ground balls increases their launch angle and hits more fly balls, it might be worth moving them up pre-draft rankings. Justin Turner and J.D. Martinez are examples of players who thrived by hitting more balls in the air and became surprising fantasy assets when they broke out.

Pitchers

Spring training stats for pitchers shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt. Instead, they should be taken with a spoonful of it. The spring is the ideal time for pitchers to tinker with their pitch mix, introduce a new offering they’ve worked on in the offseason or play around with sequencing. However, pitchers might offer gamers a glimpse of more meaningful spring data than hitters.

Namely, a pitcher throwing harder or featuring a new pitch should raise eyebrows. Fortunately, even if a ballpark doesn’t capture Statcast data, beat reporters and national media members are reliable sources for velocity readings. For example, Shane Bieber worked with Driveline in the offseason and reportedly recaptured a few ticks on his heater.

Gamers should keep tabs on pitchers in the spring who’ve reportedly added zip to their heater, added a new pitch to their repertoire or both. Moreover, if they also have eye-catching success in the spring, the hypothetical pitcher in question is a candidate to bump up pre-draft rankings. So, while pitching statistics in the spring aren’t overly important, pitchers provide astute gamers with notable data in spring training.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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