Dayton Daily News reporter Hal McCoy recently returned from Arizona and Cincinnati Reds’ Spring Training. This was his 40th one, so he’s certainly seen enough to know that the results don’t matter.
You see, spring training games will fool you every time. Outcomes are unimportant because pitchers are working on different things, hitters are working on different things, the manager tries different things he’d never try in a game and he uses lineups he’d never use and batting orders he’d never use and players who might never see a major-league game, ever, get playing time.
That sounds good, since the Reds aren’t exactly winning a lot of games so far this year. But saying it’s “experimentation time” still leaves you wanting more. What insight has all of that experience watching baseball given McCoy?
He lists five things he saw and learned. I’ve quoted parts of a couple of them.
The health of Scott Rolen. He is his old self after missing most of last season and undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. […] Barring a calamity like a mishap sliding or a collision at home plate, Rolen will start the season in better shape and health than he has been since he has been with the Reds.
Better than he was in 2010? Rolen put up MVP numbers in the first half of that year. If he has even half a year as good as that, the Reds’ offense will be in excellent shape.
Drew Stubbs is making more contact, striking out less, putting the ball in play. Prediction: He will strike out less than 150 times this year and he won’t lead the league in strikeouts.
People make too much out of Stubbs’ strikeouts. By that I mean that I don’t think there as damaging as a lot of people do. However, Stubbs made way too many outs last year. If he doesn’t improve this year, the Reds will need to find a new center fielder. But from McCoy’s observations, it sounds like Stubbs has greatly improved his plate approach.
The rest of McCoy’s observations are certainly worth your time, too.