Of course it’s early. Of course it “doesn’t count” (good thing, given the 0-5 record!). Of course it’s ONLY Spring Training. But there are some things we can glean from the first weekend of play in 2014. Let’s take a look.
- Dan Uggla might be better. 3 for 4, a Sacrifice Fly, 3 walks and only 1 strikeout in those 8 plate appearance. The hits were singles – he’s not yet bashing balls off the walls, but it’s something to be optimistic about. Then again, this writer tweeted a sarcastic question about whether we could trade him yet… after the first game. But there was another reason for that, too… and that reason has a name:
- Tommy La Stella. Three notable things: (1) he’s hitting. 7 for 15 with one walk, one K, and a double. (2) He’s getting significant playing time – starting time – while the major leaguers are still present. (3) He’s hitting better pitching, too. In fact he went 3-3 vs. the Nationals in the first half of that wild 15-to-16 game… before finishing the day 3-6. He’s getting a very good look from the coaches, and so far is making the most of it. If he keeps this up, he could end up forcing his way onto the active roster regardless of Uggla’s presence. Unfortunately, I expect the team will still want to have him work at AAA for a while.
- Freddie Freeman is just a hitter. 5 for 10, two doubles.
- Chris Johnson is Freeman-light… and that’s okay: 3-11, 3 doubles.
- Ernesto Mejia needs a job… in the American League. 5 for 12, 2 doubles.
- Streaky Jordan Schafer is still streaky. He’s also 5-9 with two doubles.
One of the key aspects of looking at Spring stats is that the pitching is spotty. You will almost never see the same guy twice in a row (this serves to help pitchers in general), but then for the first few weeks, pitchers may not quite be up to their best stuff, either (which helps hitters). So while you can say (and I did so above) that the better pitchers throw early in these games, it still doesn’t necessarily hold that they are all specifically trying to get batters out. You could see a guy throw nothing but curve balls, for instance; or perhaps walk a guy just to put a runner on so he can throw from the stretch. Crazy things happen, and we’re usually not privy to all of them.
All that said: hitting .400 or better is still noteworthy. Hitting .100 or less is, too, and can be more meaningful in a bad way. But again: no need to panic yet… we’re still in the realm of the Small Sample Size.
Other things I’m noticing so far:
- B.J. Upton is still a work in progress. 1 for 7 so far, with 2K, a walk, and at least one infield pop-out. But the hit was a double. Right: not gonna panic.
- Mark Hamilton. 0-5. Looks great in BP. Having trouble getting on track thus far in games.
- Christian Bethancourt. Not getting a lot of playing time so far. That could/should increase as time goes on, though (especially if Laird’s back continues to be a problem). He’s started 1 for 5 at the plate in 2 appearances.
- Ryan Doumit can still hit… and run. 3-11 with a triple and a stolen base.
- The good news? The major league pitching has started well.
- The bad news? The minor league pitching pretty well sucked.
- Freddy Garcia came out throwing like a guy wanting a job. Two innings. Perfect. Throws again today.
- Julio Teheran gave up 2 hits, but was 1 of just 2 pitchers (8 total) giving up no runs against Washington in that crazy game on Saturday.
- Kris Medlen: 1 earned run, at least partially due to Gerald Laird‘s back.
- Brandon Beachy: didn’t finish the second inning, giving up 5 hits and 2 earned. But don’t forget that he has a different agenda this spring: Just Make Sure You’re Healthy.
- Alex Wood: gave up 3 hits, but nobody scored (2K, double play). He was also facing a tough Detroit lineup (minus Miguel Cabrera and a couple of others).
- David Hale: interesting outing. 2 hits and 2 runs vs. Houston, though only 1 earned run. He also K’d three Astros.
- Craig Kimbrel is still Craig Kimbrel: 1 hit, 2 K’s, nothing else.
- Gus Schlosser: 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 K. No other damage.
- Juan Kaime: 1 inning, 2 K, no hits.
- J.R. Graham got hit hard: 0.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned.
- Jason Hursh, 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 earned, 1 K.
- Ryne Harper. Quirky delivery got him 2 Ks, 1 hit. No runs.
- Cory Gearrin. 2 spotless outings, 1 hit, 1 K.
- Newcomer Atahualpa Severino was the “other” pitcher to escape without damage on Saturday: 1 inning, 3 outs.
- Shae Simmons? 2 poor outings.
- Ryan Buchter? 2 poor outings.
- Luis Vasquez hasn’t made an appearance yet… just heard will throw BP on Wednesday (via Kevin McAlpin).
Oh, and just for the record: Peter Moylan got through one inning vs. us giving up one hit (Freeman rifled a double), one walk, but no runs allowed.
Today’s lineup (it’s “outfielders day”):
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 3, 2014
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) March 3, 2014
They really do like La Stella, don’t they?