Alex Rodriguez…Derek Jeter…Jose Reyes? Reyes no doubt trails the left side of the New York Yankees’ infield in matinee idol status, but it may not be long before the 20-year-old sets aside a slice of the Big Apple–if he hasn’t already. In a 69-game sampling of the big leagues last season Reyes batted .307 with 21 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases in just 274 at-bats. Reyes, who set a New York Mets rookie record in August with 39 hits, also flashed the leather by not committing an error in his last 35 games. The young Dominican made such an impression that he was mentioned as an early candidate for National League Rookie of the Year honors before missing the final month of the season with a left ankle sprain. Now, the potential All-Star returns for another go-round, with hopes of making Mets fans everywhere remember his name for years to come. Despite having to battle a strained right hamstring that could keep him out of the season opener, Reyes recently discussed his rapid climb through the minor leagues, playing in New York and what’s expected of him–among other topics–with Baseball Prospectus.
Some people don’t take spring training seriously enough. Fans head down to Arizona where they stay in cool hotels built around buttes, swap Tootsie Rolls for autographs, watch games in the sun, while poor saps like me toil away, pounding out columns under overcast skies as that day’s member of the executive committee whips us with the content-producing cat o’ nine tails. Teams play split-squad games. They’re required to send a couple of anticipated regulars so what fans come out see some recognizable names, but I have to ask: If you’re an average fan, it’s a beautiful day, you’re drinking your first beer in the sun, would you care if the Tigers sent out Fernando Vina or Cody Ross? Would you get up and demand a refund because Craig Monroe was out there in the outfield instead of Alex Sanchez? And some people take spring training far, far too seriously. I call these people “Ozzie Guillen.”
Are the Angels the favorites in the AL West, according to PECOTA? How hard did Dusty work Cub starters in ’03? And do the Tigers have a better option than playing Alex Sanchez every day? All this and much more news from Anaheim, Chicago, and Detroit in your Thursday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
The Royals head into the season with four lefties potentially in the rotation, definitely an oddity. From a health perspective, does this mean anything? Digging into the data, the answer is a simple “no” with the usual caveat of small sample size. Across age spectrums, lefties and righties tend to be within a few percentage points of each other in risk. At times lefties are higher, and at others, righties take the lead. The differences are near random and point to this as something that Royals fans can ignore.
What the Royals cannot ignore is their continuing downtrend when it comes to their medhead stats. They were near the bottom in days lost do the DL in 2003, and were saved by their budget from being near the bottom in dollars lost. It always strikes me as penny-wise and pound-foolish when teams operating under real or imagined budget constraints don’t do more to make sure that the money they’re spending stays on the field.