Robert Ford came to 610 Sports Radio in 2009 as the station’s “Royals Insider.” He currently serves as the pre and post game show host for Royals Broadcasts on 610. The Syracuse graduate has been around professional baseball as a reporter and broadcaster for over a decade.
Royals Spring Training Report for Sat, 3/10
by Robert Ford,posted Mar 10 2012 4:58PM
I’ve always thought hitting was tougher to evaluate than pitching. Most hitters only get 4-5 plate appearances in a regular-season game, while you’ll get to see a pitcher throw several pitches in one inning alone. Hitting is even tougher to evaluate in spring training because, for much of camp, position players aren’t playing all nine innings, meaning you get to see fewer plate appearances. Also, pitchers don’t always pitch in a spring training game like they do in a regular-season game; they may be working on something specific. For example, Alex Gordon hit a home run earlier this spring off a sidearming lefty who threw him four straight sliders, two of which he’d fouled off; it’s unlikely Gordon would see four straight sliders in a regular-season at-bat, unless looked overmatched on all of them. Also, it tends to take hitters a few weeks to get their timing where they want it to be.
So, when I watch Royals hitters in spring training, I generally look for things that jump out, like with Chris Getz, who has a new stance that’s more upright and with a more pronounced weight shift as a way of generating more pop. When I watch position players I’m familiar with, I want to see at least some flashes of what’s made them successful in the past. Today, for instance, Mike Moustakas got a hanging breaking ball that he was a little early on and hit a mile foul down the rightfield line, completely out of the stadium; I know that, when he’s going well during the regular season, Moustakas probably keeps that ball fair. I also like that I’ve seen Gordon, Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer, among others, hit the ball effectively to the opposite field. All of those hitters rely on taking the ball the other way and you generally don’t want to see a hitter pulling everything this early in camp.
A few Royals fans have contacted me expressing alarm at the paltry offensive numbers of various position players this spring. I almost never look at spring training statistics for position players, especially the ones who are all but assured of a spot on the Opening Day roster; those guys have plenty of time to iron out the kinks and to get their swings where they want them to be. I know a lot of fans pore over spring training box scores but, for the most part, they are meaningless. Unlike the regular season, when you can look at stats and draw some accurate conclusions on players and teams, in spring training you have to go by what you see (or what someone in camp sees) rather than by what the numbers say.