Tim Anderson was having a terrific spring training, entering Sunday by going 7-for-14 with a homer, triple, two doubles, and, more importantly for spring training, no strikeouts. Granted, he also hadn’t drawn a walk, but any improvement in his discipline will likely be reflected more by the K column.
But then he struck out both times up against the Cubs on Sunday, partially because Yu Darvish loved how the ball was coming out of his hand.
With two strikeouts over 16 plate appearances, that’s still a welcome improvement. The problem with small samples is that another two -strikeout game knocks him back down to problematic percentage category. Such is the rub with these small samples.
Another case in point: Adam Engel, who is hitting .333/467/.667 with three walks to one strikeout over 15 plate appearances. That’s cool and all, but Engel hit .383/.453/.702 with a respectable 10 strikeouts over 53 PAs last spring. Not only did that fail to carry over into the regular season, but the more he played, the less he controlled the strike zone.
The hope is that it works the other way for Yoan Moncada (seven strikeouts over 18 PAs so far) or Eloy Jimenez (five strikeouts, two hits over 14 PA) but with irregular playing time against irregular pitchers, there really isn’t much to extrapolate. When everything’s about April, March numbers can numb.
When it comes to unfettered optimism, you’ll come the closest to finding it with the young, non-Eloy outfielders, all of whom are having moments. Blake Rutherford and Luis Gonzalez are both 4-for-13, and Luis Robert is only interested in extra-base hits. His go-ahead homer against Texas was captured from multiple angles:
And perhaps my favorite:
Of the available outfielders in the Birmingham logjam, Micker Adolfo is the only one who hasn’t yet gotten up to speed in regular games as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Based on his work on the back fields, he might not be far away, either:
Proof of ? numero dos! Nooooobody moved. #WhiteSox pic.twitter.com/Frd6bxCIFn— Kim C (@Cu_As) March 2, 2019
This is the good stuff — watching guys with raw power flash it in a game on camera phones, accompanied only by the raw audio of sparse crowds and raw video of frustrated pitchers.
Until guys like Anderson and Engel show they can translate spring training performances into real results in April and May, the easiest way to get through the games that don’t count is to appreciate the physical talent on display. Let no-doubt blasts from Double-A sluggers sustain you.
The rebuild’s back on!! Clearly.