San Diego Padres Spring Training: Ranking the Top 5 Early Standouts
San Diego Padres Spring Training: Top 5 Early Standouts
The common belief among most baseball purists is that spring training stats mean nothing. While true in most cases, there are times when individual spring training performances are noteworthy, and so far this spring some San Diego Padres' players have done a few things of note.
Well when do spring training numbers mean something you ask? In my opinion they matter in quite a few situations. For instance, when you have two players locked in a position battle, every hit, strikeout, stolen base, great defensive play, etc. absolutely means something.
In other instances you may have players on a roster with questions surrounding them that only their performance can answer. Questions like: Was last season a fluke? Will a certain player be the same guy post-injury? Is a certain prospect hype or substance? And so forth and so on.
Also, sometimes a player is just playing excellent baseball, excellent enough to excite a fanbase -- and there is nothing wrong with that. If you ask me, a positive is a positive no matter if it happens during spring training or the regular season -- but that's is just me.
As far as negative performances, those fall into the same rationale in my opinion -- especially when dealing with young players. The only time I don't put too much stock into a bad spring is when we're talking about proven players. If Tony Gywnn were to struggle one spring during his career, would anybody truly be concerned? See what I mean.
Earlier I gave a few examples of when spring training performances should mean something to the fans and organization alike, and the Padres have players who fit into each of my examples of those instances.
And with that being said, here are the top 5 Padres standouts of the spring so far.
5. Tony Sipp
The Padres have been searching for a dominant left-handed presence in their bullpen since lefty Joe Thatcher was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. Ironically Tony Sipp, a Diamondback last season, has made a strong case this spring to be just that for the Padres.
Signed to a minor league contract this offseason, Sipp has pitched four scoreless innings thus far this spring with two strikeouts and a 1.00 whip. With a career .217 left-handed opponents batting average and .196 for righties, Sipp could play a very important role for the Padres this season.
4. Yonder Alonso
Yonder Alonso dealt with some injuries that affected his performance in 2013, but by the look of things this spring, those injuries are a thing of the past. Third on the team with 15 at-bats, Alonso is hitting .333 with only two strikeouts on the spring. Those two strikeouts are tied for the least amount on the team of all Padres hitters with at least 10 at-bats.
While a certain young player -- who will remain nameless until later -- has hogged the spotlight at first-base and taken away some of his at-bats, Alonso has continued to play well.
3. Alexi Amarista
At 5-foot-6, Alexi Amarista is a little man trying to earn a big role for the Padres this season. Because of injury woes in 2014, Amarista got 368 at-bats while playing four different positions for the Padres. That versatility is unmatched on this roster, and because of that Amarista was a favorite to win the Padres utility role even before the team reported to camp.
With the injury bug already hitting the team in 2014, Amarista's services will be needed this year. His .385 batting average and .429 on-base percentage this spring should be encouraging to Padres fans.
2. Andrew Cashner
Andrew Cashner had a 128 innings pitched increase from 2012 to 2013. Anytime such an increase occurs there has to be some concern heading into the following season. So far this spring Cashner has done nothing but ease those concerns as he has been dominant early on, pitching 5.0 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and a 0.60 whip.
Couple that with the fact that his opponents batting average is sitting at a ridiculous .158, and you have to feel like the 2013 huge inning increase shouldn't be an issue this season.
1. Tommy Medica
The nameless young player I spoke on earlier in regards to Yonder Alonso is this man. Not only is Tommy Medica the top Padres standout early on this spring, but Medica happens to be one of the top standouts in all of MLB.
Second in the league in both homers and batting average among players with comparable amounts of at-bats, Medica has opened many eyes this spring. Positionally blocked by Alonso, Medica has been so good this spring that Padres coaches have talked of trying him in the outfield. Medica has stood out to the point that somebody's job may very well be in danger.