It’s true. Spring Training stats don’t count. Avoid the temptation to draw any conclusions based on a player’s results. But for some, the performance certainly counts. For those who are trying to earn a spot on the 26-man active roster, they use these opportunities to prove themselves to the coaching staff and front office. Whether it’s a prospect seeking a first taste of the Majors or a veteran who refuses to retire, they’re motivated to be at their best in these exhibitions.
Really, anybody outside of the surefire everyday starters has something to gain under these circumstances.
And here are some examples from the 2021 Marlins:
Adam Duvall—As one of the newest members of the team, Duvall is making an impression. But not only that: he’s showing the kind of production he could bring to the lineup during a 162-game regular season. Although Duvall is hitting for a .200 batting average after 13 spring games, he’s recorded two doubles, one triple, and three home runs. Right now, his slugging percentage is an impressive .571. Extrapolate that over a full-length season and the Marlins would be getting good value for their free agent investment.
Jon Berti and Garrett Cooper—By looking at his stats and at what they’ve done so far in spring camp, Berti and Cooper are determined to seize expanded roles.
Cooper is leading the team in hits (10) and has six runs batted in across 12 games, while posting a .357/.400/.536/.936 slash line. Regarding Berti, he owns seven hits in 19 at-bats (.368/.552/.474/1.025) and four steals in five attempts. Plus, Berti has compiled more walks (9) than strikeouts (6).
Are Díaz and Chisholm ready?—Until just a few days ago, neither Díaz nor Chisholm had been able to contribute. Chisholm’s hot streak has boosted his slugging percentage to .548, during which time he is showing unique power potential with multiple batted balls that have exceeded 110 MPH, according to Statcast. However, he continues striking out too frequently, while Díaz (2-for-25 at the plate) has posted poor offensive numbers in every category besides walks.
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, no matter which one of them initially grabs the second base job, it’s hard to feel confident in them producing at a great level right away.
Anthony Bender and Zach Pop are real—Bender (minor league signing) and Pop (traded as a Rule 5 draft pick) might be cheap findings from the Marlins front office, but they could develop into high-quality arms of the bullpen, judging by what they’ve done during the preseason.
Bender has pitched six innings in five games and has looked invincible. He’s allowed only one hit, is yet to give up a walk, and has struck out 10 hitters. Pop has also gone scoreless across four frames of work, along with three punchouts. Both are routinely averaging 95 MPH or more on their fastball velocity, which would bring a refreshing change of pace from 2020’s soft-tossing Marlins relief corps.