Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Which Strong Spring Performers Are Believable? (Greg Bird & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know that, most of the time, spring numbers don’t mean much. However that’s not always the case. Let’s take a look at some of those who are having strong springs and try to decide if we are buying or denying:

 

Greg Bird – New York Yankees
.452 with 4 HR and 6 RBI

After missing 2016 due to injury Bird appeared primed to share first base with Tyler Austin. Instead Austin will now open the year on the DL, leaving Bird and a slew of veterans to man the spot. That’s good news for Bird, who is quickly proving that he deserves an opportunity.

Remember he hit .261 with 11 HR in 178 PA for the Yankees in 2015. He struggled with a 29.8% strikeout rate, but his 26.5% O-Swing% showed a strong feel for the strike zone. He had also shown improved numbers in the minors prior to being recalled (14.2% at Double-A, 18.0% at Triple-A). With 6 K vs. 4 BB this spring, as well as 5 doubles and a triple, everything appears headed in the right direction.

There is going to be concern that he needs to sit against southpaws, and that will limit his upside, but for now we are buying the potential breakout.

Verdict – Buy

 

Mitch Haniger – Seattle Mariners
.444 with 2 HR and 6 RBI

Haniger was a popular breakout candidate after his trade to Arizona, so this type of performance is going to do little to put the brakes on the hype. He has also added 5 doubles and a triple, while showing a strong command of the strike zone (5 K vs. 3 BB over 36 AB).

Remember he hit 30 HR with 12 SB last season, and while he hit .229 in the Majors he kept the strikeouts in check (22.0% strikeout rate courtesy of a 9.5% SwStr% and 22.6% O-Swing%) and struggled with poor luck (.256 BABIP despite a 37.3% Hard%). There’s little reason to think that he won’t produce.

Verdict – Buy ‘Em

 

A.J. Reed – Houston Astros
.333 with 4 HR and 10 RBI

Could he finally live up to the hype that we’ve been hearing about? Maybe, though don’t get too excited about the numbers. There isn’t an obvious fit in the lineup, and he also has managed just 1 double and has 7 K in his 30 AB.

The strikeouts aren’t awful, but they’re not great and the lack of doubles is a little bit of a concern. With Reed he’s certainly ticketed for Triple-A for more seasoning, but he’s already shown ability there (it just hasn’t translated). Time will tell, but we wouldn’t get too excited quite yet.

Verdict – Deny ‘Em

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
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Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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