Since spring training stats don’t count for anything, they seemingly have as much meaning as getting interior design advice from your butcher. (Unless, of course, you’re going to a butcher who happens to have a side hustle as an interior designer, and he or she gives you a free pork butt with every daybed sofa you purchase. Hey, it can happen, right?)
Though the numbers don’t count, can we still learn something about unheralded players who had incredible springs? Roto Rage believes so.
Over 21 career appearances (19 starts), the Giants’ Logan Webb is 5-7 with a 5.36 ERA and 1.521 WHIP. He has struck out just 7.9 per nine innings and walked 3.6 per nine. His numbers over six seasons in the minors were nothing to write home about either, going 11-8 with a 3.36 ERA, 275 strikeouts (8.2 per nine), 100 walks (3.0 per nine) and a 1.326 WHIP.
So, why the heck are we talking about him?
Well, when a pitcher has 0.55 ERA with a 22-2 strikeout-to-walk rate, 0.53 WHIP and a .119 opponent average over 17 spring innings, he is bound to garner some attention — even more so after he makes the team and is scheduled to start the third game of the season (that’s also partly because of an injury to Alex Wood).
Roto Rage is not claiming Webb will be a Cy Young candidate based on his spring performance, nor is it being suggested he should be picked up immediately. What is being suggested, however, is using that little flag next to Webb’s name and add him to your watch list.
The key to whether he makes it off your watch list and earns a spot in your rotation may be dependent on the continued development and use of his changeup, which he used to dominate competition this spring.
It’s a pitch he has used about 26.5 percent of the time with some success over his big league career, holding opponents to a .248 average (.230 in 2020). Of his 83 major league punchouts, 25 have come via the changeup. He also has a 13.5 percent swinging-strike rate against the pitch, by far the best rate of any pitch in his repertoire.
If Webb ups the usage rate on his changeup, continues using his curveball (opponents have hit .177 with 27 whiffs in his two seasons) and stops relying on his mid-90s fastball (a pitch he has used more than 50 percent of the time and opponents have crushed to the tune of a .346 average), he starts to become an intriguing fantasy option.
Also important: This is a developing young pitcher. He’s just 24 years old, so he has room to grow. It doesn’t hurt that over the course of his time in the majors, his FIP has been considerably lower than his ERA (we’re talking more than a full point lower), which means he has been unlucky.
Webb is rostered in fewer than 10 percent of ESPN leagues, so he’s not exactly a hot commodity … yet. If his magical spring starts rolling into the regular season, that might be a different case in the weeks to come. Keep an eye on him.
One other youngster worth keeping tabs on: the Marlins’ Trevor Rogers.
The 13th pick in the 2017 draft was 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA, 1.607 WHIP and 4.2 walks per nine innings in 2020. Though those numbers weren’t pleasant, he did strike out 39 in 28 innings (12.5 strikeouts per nine).
The 23-year-old looked like a different pitcher this spring. He went 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 29-5 strikeout-to-walk rate and a .191 opponent average. He’s owned in fewer than 20 percent of ESPN leagues and should be a key cog in a solid young Miami rotation with Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Sixto Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez. Watch him.
Joc Pederson OF/DH, Cubs
In 18 exhibition games, he was 17-for-45 (.378) with eight homers and 19 RBIs (both the best in the league), along with 12 runs and a 1.431 OPS.
Sandy Alcantara SP, Marlins
After maintaining a 1.33 ERA and striking out 27 over 20 ¹/₃ spring innings, he took a no-decision while striking out seven over six scoreless innings in Miami’s opener.
Josh Bell 1B, Nationals
He led the league this spring in OPS (1.328) and slugging percentage (.872), was second in OBP (.456) and third in average (.383). He also hit six homers with 15 RBIs, 15 runs and eight walks.
Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B, Pirates
Can’t expect these numbers during the season, but he led the majors in average (.431) and OBP (.463), and was third in OPS (1.208) this spring.
Sam Hilliard OF, Rockies
There was some good (like stealing five bases and driving in eight runs), but there was far more bad (like his .211 average, .599 OPS and the fact he struck out 25 times).
Zach Plesac SP, Indians
Despite a solid strikeout-to-walk rate (24-6), opponents hit .281 against him, he allowed 17 earned runs and a league-worst nine homers.
Caleb Smith SP, Diamondbacks
Managed to strike out 25 batters, but allowed 20 earned runs over 21 innings (8.57 ERA), both the worst marks in the majors. He also walked 11 and allowed opponents to hit .299 against him.
Matt Carpenter 3B, Cardinals
Over 17 spring games, he was 2-for-37 (.054) with 13 strikeouts, a .081 slugging percentage, .303 OPS and one run scored. Yikes!
- The Rockies’ versatile Garrett Hampson showed why using a late-round pick on him was a wise move. In 23 games, he hit .283 while stealing six bases, driving in eight runs and scoring 15. He also had a .381 OBP and walked eight times.
- More Rockies news: After finishing the exhibition season with a 5.68 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, .338 opponent average and eight walks, German Marquez proceeded to walk six and allow batters to hit .400 against him in an Opening Day no-decision. He did, however, manage to allow only one run in Colorado’s opener.
- Holy turn back the clocks, Batman! Over 22 ¹/₃ innings, Cardinals vet Adam Wainwright maintained a 2.42 ERA with a 21-4 strikeout-to-walk rate, a 0.72 WHIP and .156 opponent average. There are some who already believe this is a resurgence of some kind for the 39-year-old, who is owned in 32.4 percent of ESPN leagues, but let’s see him do it during the regular season.
Team Name Of The Week
Dylan Cease and Desist
Submitted by Joseph Carolla