Friday, April 02, 2010

Potential Breakout Seasons

We talk a lot about how spring training statistics are not very meaningful.  However, in an earlier post, I cited some research by John Dewan, owner of Baseball Info Solutions, which suggested that players who hit for a much higher than normal slugging average in spring training have a tendency to carry their performance through the regular season.

With spring training almost over, it's a good time to see which Tigers players slugged above their norms this spring.  I first calculated the slugging average (SLG) of each player for 2007-2009 (minor league data are used where MLB data are unavailable).  I then subtracted that number from the 2010 spring training SLG to get the difference.  The top six differences for Tigers batters are shown in the table below.

Brent Dlugach, with a three-year SLG of .403, and a spring training SLG of .674 heads the list with a .271 difference.  Others include Don Kelly, Clete Thomas, Gerald Laird, Johnny Damon and Austin Jackson.  The spring sample sizes are small of course and we can't expect all six of these players to slug higher than their norms.  We also can't expect any of these players to slug as high as they did in spring training.  However, there is a good chance that a couple of these players will significantly outperform their prior three year averages.

Three-Year SLG
Spring SLG
Brent Dlugach
Don Kelly
Clete Thomas
Gerald Laird
Johnny Damon
Austin Jackson

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