Fredi says stats will determine first base winner


What did I say about stats and Spring Training? It may be an old topic, but damn if it isn’t relevant. From the Miami Herald:

"Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez — quick to note that he hasn’t given one look at either [Gaby Sanchez’ or Logan Morrison’s] Grapefruit League numbers — said the decision won’t be difficult if one player holds a distinct statistical edge over the other at the end of spring training.“I’ve always said I want both of them to hit .390,” Gonzalez said. “But, obviously, if one’s hitting .390 and the other’s hitting .057 — competition is competition. If one guy’s hitting .380 and the other guy hits .060, we can’t say, `Wait a second, the other guy makes the team.’ ”"

First off, based on Fredi Gonzalez’ quote, either a reporter informed him of Gaby Sanchez’ and Logan Morrison’s stats, or Fredi has seen the stats for the Grapefruit League. As of Friday, Sanchez was hitting .400 and Morrison was hitting .058. Those could not have been wild guesses.

More importantly to me, however, is the mentality that Fredi has in deciding this position battle. It walks the fine line between using meaningless stats and using scouting information to make the judgment.

Clearly I know very little of how Fredi is internally making the decision of who will start at first base. He and his gaggle of coaches could be dissecting film of Morrison’s and Sanchez’ swings to determine if any of them have major issues. They could be evaluating both players’ defensive capabilities on film as well. They could be doing all sorts of scouting-related things that should be used to determine the winner.

But the media has no access to that business (and neither do I). It does have access to Spring Training stats, so it is no surprise that, with one first baseman batting close to .400 and the other close to nothing, they would ask questions regarding the only information they really have. And Fredi gave a pretty typical response from a manager: “I don’t know who’s going to win, but the guy batting .060 better start getting hits.”

Now, theoretically it shouldn’t matter how well he bats in 18 AB (!) because anyone can go 1-for-18 in a given stretch. Heck, even if he bats .060 in ST, it shouldn’t really matter as long as he looks decent mechanically and he isn’t displaying major strikeout/contact issues. But I admit it is extremely difficult to look like you’re playing decent baseball while batting .060. And it’s hard not to look like you’re playing good baseball while batting .390. I can’t do it, though I know it’s possible. But that’s why I’m not a scout or a coach, and that’s why the guys who are scouts and coaches on the Marlins should be able to tell.

Just looking at the numbers, neither player looks like they’re making tons of outs on strikeouts. Both players have two walks and five K’s. The difference is the BABIP. Now, even looking at it at that level shows you nothing, because there aren’t enough PA to tell us anything. But right now, Morrison is looking bad because he can’t find the holes in the defense, but Sanchez has found maybe three or so more holes and has looked ridiculous.

Of course, you (as my readers) all know that this stuff is meaningless at this point. And I’m glad to see Fredi say this:

"“A lot can happen,” Gonzalez said of the Morrison/Sanchez competition at first. “The only thing that separates them for me is one is left-handed [Morrison] and other is right-handed [Sanchez]. They’re that close. If we start breaking them down, it’s splitting hairs.”"

At the very least, the competition remains. My personal belief is that Sanchez should play, and that Morrison should wait and develop. We’ll see how it pans out.