Last year, the White Sox ranked near or at the bottom of the American League in all of the slash-line categories:
- BA: .249 (11th)
- OBP: .302 (14th)
- SLG: .378 (13th)
- OPS: .680 (14th)
Which was totally the opposite of how the Sox fared in Cactus League play:
- BA: .299 (3rd)
- OBP: .358 (4th)
- SLG: .494 (3rd)
- OPS: .854 (3rd)
So, if you needed any evidence that spring training stats don't matter, that about does it. The numbers have an intense pull, because it's the first evidence anybody has, but year after year, we learn the same story -- there's no real consistency in how they translate.
A couple of White Sox turned strong spring showings into a successful season ahead. Marcus Semien (.462/.533/.692 over 15 PA) and Josh Phegley (.360/.407/.600 over 27 PA) networked well in March, and they actually followed up with calls. On the pitching side, you can trace the improvement of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago all the way back to Camelback Ranch, and that's neat.
On the other side, John Danks' gopher ball problems surfaced in the desert air, and followed him north. Carlos Sanchez (.120/.185/.120), Trayce Thompson (.053/.250/.053) struggled out of the gate and through most of the season to come, and Santos Rodriguez (4.87 WHIP!) foreshadowed his doom as well.
But as you'll see, there's far more noise than signal. Aside from pitchers who need to show somebody they can throw strikes, there really isn't one category on which you can rely. Even in Danks' case, his problems were rooted in the numbers produced by the radar gun.
Since the first official unofficial game of 2014 takes place today, it's a good time to look at the five most notable cases against spring training statistics from last season.
Konerko is a getting-work-in guy, an established veteran who can focus on certain areas of his approach instead of gunning for results. Nobody would've really flinched if he put up his April line during the spring, but perhaps it might've softened the blow when his 2013 form began to cement itself for the worse.
Crain missed three weeks with an adductor strain, and it showed in his first few spring outings, as he lacked velocity, command and movement on his pitches. He did show it during his final tune-up in an exhibition game against Milwaukee, and that's all he needed to put him on track for a stellar three months. This is the best argument to not worry about Ronald Belisario's visa issues. Alas, Belisario's history is an even better reason to be concerned.
Mitchell's nosedive from dynamo to disaster basically means you should watch something else when he comes to this plate this month. There's nothing meaningful that can be gained from it.
(*Denotes Triple-A numbers only. He was demoted to Birmingham after two weeks.)
In terms of numbers, peripherals and aesthetics, Castro might have had the best spring performance of any White Sox pitchers. He then proceeded to disappoint as a starter, and outside of a brief call-up during the 2013 season, never really rallied as a reliever, either. The Sox outrighted him after the season, and he hasn't hooked up with another team yet.
The anti-Crain, Keppinger's sore shoulder was well-documented throughout the preseason, but he gave us very little reason to believe it mattered all much. He drew seven walks during the spring. He didn't draw his seventh walk during the regular season until June 28.