Spring training is the perfect time for overreactions. We’re all excited about baseball, specifically New York Yankees baseball. Of course, after months of watching one and done football and March Madness, we forget the baseball season is a grind and a marathon. Take a look at Twitter on Opening Day and get back to me on that one.
However, as tempered as I am toward spring training statistics, could performances be undervalued as well?
Take, for instance, Gary Sanchez. Last spring training “El Gary” batted .091 and didn’t fly north with the big club out of camp. With hindsight being 20/20, one could say the club thought he needed more seasoning and it worked out when the timing was right. Or, one could argue how much better the Yankees would’ve been with a full season of Sanchez if he produced like he did late in the 2016 campaign.
Back in 2012, Raul Ibanez batted .150 in spring training and fans were killing the Yankees on the signing. All “Raul, too cool” did was launch 19 home runs and play more outfield than the team ever imagined. When the postseason rolled around, Ibanez smashed clutch home runs against the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers. Overall he batted .318 with three home runs and five RBI.
In 2005, the club signed Tony Womack, replacing the popular Miguel Cairo. A young Robinson Cano was making waves but the team left Womack at second base. After a 10-14 April, the Yankees called up Cano in May and went 17-10. Womack was shifted to the outfield and into a utility role, while Cano would bat .297 with 14 home runs and become a fixture at the position through 2013.
With the 2017 squad, how long does it take for these prospects to force their hands?
If the starting rotation proves to be shaky and Chance Adams goes 8-1 at Scranton like he did at Trenton, when does the team call him up? Should Chase Headley go all of April without an extra-base hit and Gleyber Torres is hitting the tar out of the ball, how tempting will it be for the organization? In addition, if Jacoby Ellsbury goes down with an injury or Aaron Hicks is inconsistent and Clint Frazier is rocking and rolling, when does the team say, OK, now is the right time to make a move?
As the Yankees proved late in the season, they weren’t afraid to reconstruct their roster on the fly and play guys according to merit. This approach almost resulted in the club reaching the postseason. While the team has to strike the balance of development and not rushing guys if they’re earning it, bring them up.