14 Spring Training stat lines that matter
Every year, there are head-turning performances at Spring Training. And every year, we need to try to figure out which ones are going to carry over to the regular season.
Let's try to figure out which players' spring stats are for real in 2023.
We could be looking for a breakout season, a bounceback season or just a star who's going to play like it.
Here are 14 Spring Training stat lines that matter -- seven hitters and seven pitchers.
Stats are through March 23.
Corey Seager, Rangers
.467 BA/.510 OBP/.756 SLG, 1.266 OPS, 4 HR
After a strange year by his standards -- Seager hit 33 home runs in his first season in Texas, but his batting average dropped from .306 to .245 -- the Rangers shortstop looks rejuvenated. Seager has more hits than anyone in Spring Training, and this is exactly what you want to see, considering he was already the hitter set up to benefit the most from the new shift rules in 2023.
Corbin Carroll, D-backs
.368 BA/.500 OBP/.658 SLG, 1.158, 4 SB
Look at that on-base percentage from MLB's No. 2 overall prospect. The more often Carroll gets on base, the more he'll steal -- and he could steal at will, because he's the fastest player in baseball (30.7 ft/sec average sprint speed last season), and the new rule limiting pickoffs should drive base stealing up.
Jarred Kelenic, Mariners
.405 BA/.444 OBP/.833 SLG, 1.277 OPS, 4 HR
The 23-year-old Kelenic is starting to look like the hitter who shot up top prospect lists before struggling at the plate in his first two big league seasons. Kelenic's early success with his retooled lefty swing is encouraging, especially as he's crushed the ball to all fields.
Spencer Torkelson, Tigers
96.7 mph avg. exit velo, 66.7% hard-hit rate, 16 balls hit 100+ mph
This is a Statcast stat line for Torkelson, who is just ripping the ball this spring. Elite contact quality by the 2020 No. 1 overall Draft pick could mean the big breakout season everyone's waiting for from Tork. The 23-year-old has the third-highest exit velo and third-highest hard-hit rate of the 173 hitters with at least 15 tracked batted balls this spring.
Anthony Rendon, Angels
.467 BA/.539 OBP/.800 SLG, 1.329 OPS, 91.8 mph avg. exit velo
Rendon was supposed to be the big third superstar alongside Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, and he just hasn't been over his last couple of injury-plagued seasons in Anaheim. But he looks great right now, tied with Seager for the best batting average in Spring Training (min. 30 plate appearances) with an exit velocity over 2 1/2 mph from where it was in 2021-22 (89.3 mph).
Kris Bryant, Rockies
.321 BA/.441 OBP/.679 SLG, 1.120 OPS, 3 HR, 111.1 mph max exit velo
Bryant was productive when he was healthy last season, but he didn't play the last two months. It's good to see that he looks like he's back -- and he actually looks more dangerous than before. Bryant's ripped a 111.1 mph double and 110.1 mph home run this spring. The last time he hit a ball 111 mph was in May 2019, and that was also the last time he hit a 110 mph homer.
Trevor Larnach, Twins
.385 BA/.448 OBP/.808 SLG, 1.256 OPS, 3 HR, 96.4 mph avg. exit velo
Larnach is slugging his way toward the Twins' Opening Day roster, and his underlying metrics make his monster Spring Training stat line look like it could be the real thing. The 26-year-old lefty has pedestrian numbers in two big league seasons, but injuries might well be to blame, considering the 2018 first-round pick has had strong stretches around those injuries. Larnach's 96.4 mph exit velocity this spring ranks seventh among the 298 hitters with 10 or more batted balls.
Nick Lodolo, Reds
1.93 ERA, 19 K's in 14 IP (12.2 K/9), 32.2% strikeout rate
Lodolo's spring stat line backs up the stellar projections he's getting for 2023 -- Steamer thinks he'll break out as a Top 15 pitcher in the Majors and has him racking up over 200 strikeouts. The 25-year-old left-hander's stuff looks great in Spring Training -- he's getting big-time break on all his pitches, just like he did as a rookie in 2022.
Justin Verlander, Mets
2.25 ERA, 19 K's in 16 IP (10.7 K/9), 97 mph max fastball velocity
The Mets believe Verlander will continue pitching like an ace at age 40, and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is only reassuring them in his first Spring Training. Not only are Verlander's numbers dominant, it's clear his stuff hasn't dropped off either. He's been racking up strikeouts with his slider while sitting 95 mph and topping out at 97 with his fastball, and it's only March.
Robbie Ray, Mariners
0.75 ERA, 21 K's in 12 IP (15.8 K/9), 43.8% strikeout rate, 56% whiff rate
Ray took a step back with the Mariners in 2022 after winning the AL Cy Young Award with Toronto in '21, but he looks like he's stepping forward again. The 31-year-old lefty's 43.8% strikeout rate is second-best of 190 pitchers who've faced at least 40 hitters, and his 56% swing-and-miss rate ranks second of 286 pitchers who've induced at least 50 swings. Ray had similarly dominant springs in '19 and '21, too, when he went on to strike out 235 and 248 batters, respectively.
Nate Pearson, Blue Jays
13 K's in 8 1/3 IP (14 K/9), 32.5% strikeout rate, five 100+ mph K's
In Pearson's new role in the Blue Jays' bullpen, he can really let his explosive fastball eat. Pearson is averaging 98.3 mph on his four-seamer this spring, and he's hit triple digits 11 times. Five of those 100-plus mph fastballs have been strikeouts, including one at 101. He's ready to blow big league hitters away.
Mitch Keller, Pirates
20 K's to 1 BB in 15 2/3 IP (11.5 K/9, 0.6 BB/9), 30% K-BB%
Keller has often underperformed relative to his great stuff, but he quietly had a great second half of 2022 (2.71 ERA over his final 15 starts) and he's following that up with a very strong spring performance that has already earned him the Pirates' Opening Day start. Keller's command is way better than it's ever been -- look at that 20-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- and his stuff might even be sharper than usual. His fastball velo has ticked up to 96 mph, he's added a 91 mph cutter, and his sinker and sweeper are both breaking 17 inches … in opposite directions.
Hayden Wesneski, Cubs
2.12 ERA, 22 K's in 17 IP (11.7 K/9), 31.9% strikeout rate
The 25-year-old Wesneski impressed in a short big league debut last season after the Cubs got him from the Yankees, and he looks even nastier heading into 2023. Wesneski's fastball has gotten up to 97 mph on the stadium radar gun in his spring outings, way faster than it was last year -- and he says he's thrown even harder than that. And his most fun pitch is his nasty boomerang slider.
A.J. Puk, Marlins
1.80 ERA, 9 K's in 5 IP (16.2 K/9), 45% strikeout rate
Puk had his best season for the A's in 2022, but with any luck, his change of scenery with the Marlins will unlock the dominant performance we've always hoped for from him. The 27-year-old lefty is throwing as hard as ever, with his fastball sitting at 96 mph in Spring Training, but it's his slider that's worth paying attention to. Puk has taken some velocity off the pitch, throwing it around 84 mph, but added a lot of horizontal movement. Puk's slider is averaging 10 inches of break this spring after averaging only 3 inches last season. He could end up as Miami's closer.