Small samples are of extremely limited use, and Spring Training introduces further difficulties into the equation, as players work on adjusted mechanics, pitchers try out new pitches, and so forth. Even so, Spring Training provides the first look at players going into a new season, the first dividends from offseason adjustments, improved conditioning or increased maturity. In general, the statistics which normalize quickest are strikeout and walk rates for hitters. Strikeouts and walks have some significance at just 40 ABs, while HR rate normalizes nearer 100. Even so, we should treat these numbers as no more than suggestive. For ST hitters, I'm a little more sceptical of the meaning of walk rates, since some hitters are doubtlessly just trying to get their hacks in, rather than working the count. Nonetheless, what interesting results did we see underlying the 24-7 spring record we racked up?
Brett Lawrie drew just a single walk this spring, but he also struck out just twice, which makes for a golden-age-of-baseball-like rate of below 5% (compared with a rate of 18% during his MLB debut). Lawrie isn't going to hit .500, but this kind of improved contact rate vastly improves his chances of hitting above .300.
While JPA's overall spring line wasn't terribly impressive, he cut his strikeouts by a large margin, racking up just 6 Ks for an 11% rate, after striking out over 27% last season.
Adam Lind, despite a slow start to the spring, had encouraging plate discipline numbers, showing a 10% strikeout rate and a 12% walk rate.
On the negative side of things, Snider managed a 32% strikeout rate before demotion, and Rasmus put up a somewhat troubling 27% K rate, though both managed to draw a respectable number of walks. Jeff Mathis, as it turns out, is Jeff Mathis (28%K, one extra-base hit).
In the Spring mirage category, Yan Gomes struck out in fully a third of his at-bats, while drawing not a single walk.
There's probably more encouragement in these numbers than otherwise, but while suggestive, small samples in spring are nowhere near dispositive, so let's temper our conclusions.