From a purely statistical standpoint, Spring Training numbers mean nothing. Good players have bad springs, bad players have good ones, Jeff Mathis hits .391/.429/.522.
A number of people much smarter than me have studied March numbers in depth and determined that there is little to no correlation between a player’s performance in camp and their performance in the regular season.
As much as we may want to think otherwise, managers and players are likely well aware of this as well. Mike Trout could have hit .500 this spring and still started the season in Triple-A, not because the front office is clueless, but because that’s where they’ve determined he’s best suited at the moment.
In spite of this knowledge, spring numbers can also, at times, mean everything.
Bobby Abreu began his spring by putting the wrong foot forward and placing it directly into his mouth. Speaking to Enrique Rojas of ESPN the week prior to reporting to camp, Abreu expressed unhappiness at his potential loss of playing time this season.
Abreu claimed he was an “everyday player” and that he’d rather be traded then sit on the bench.
Sensing a potential problem, Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto met with Abreu in private and quelled the flames quickly and efficiently, expressing to the press that Abreu would likely see 400 at-bats on the season.
Then last week more inflammatory statements emerged in a Lider en Deportes article, with Abreu talking about a lack of confidence in the Angels sticking to their bargain and that he was tired of “proving” his worth to the team.
Abreu’s statements of being an “everyday player” and being underappreciated could have very well been justified if he had backed them up with a solid performance this spring.
However, Bobby has gone just 4-for-46 this spring with four walks and two doubles, good for a woeful .086/.160/.130 slash line.
Once again, on their face, these numbers mean nothing and the front office knows this. Abreu could go on to have a very successful season in spite of them.
But compounded with his stirring of the proverbial pot on more than one occasion this spring, the 38-year-old now finds himself on the verge of being sent to the Cleveland Indians.
Rather than keep quiet and accept a lesser position on a team that is all but confirmed to reach the playoffs, Bobby is now likely to become a member of a team that will need everything to go right just to get a wild card spot.
Beyond the playoffs, the kicker here is that Abreu will not see significantly more playing time as a member of the Indians. Just like with the Angels, Abreu will have to split time in Cleveland with a slew of corner outfielders and a powerful designated hitter coming off injury (Travis Hafner in this case).
I’ve always liked Bobby Abreu. Yes, his 2011 season was disappointing and he doesn’t belong anywhere near the outfield anymore, but he was a great player who gave the Angels two quality seasons in the twilight of his career. So it’s unfortunate that Abreu’s tenure as an Angel is likely to end this way.
It’s not often that we can draw much meaning from Spring Training numbers. When we can, they’re often coupled with other factors. Here Bobby Abreu’s paltry numbers, combined with his new penchant for public displays of defiance, mean that his Angel career is likely at an end.