Trevor Story is the 30th ranked prospect in my 2016 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post that I wrote in early February. I’m higher on him than most. In fact, I think I’m higher on him than any other prospect list I have read. But if you didn’t acquire Story at good value back in February, it is probably too late, as he has absolutely destroyed spring training pitching to the tune of, .378/.451/.911, with 6 homers in 51 PA. It seems like everyone has boarded the hype train. But it brings up the question, should his spring training stats matter?
In the sense that it has won him the starting SS job in Colorado, at least until/if Jose Reyes returns, his spring stats clearly matter. And for people that were either completely unaware of Story, or very down on his potential, then yeah, his monster spring stats should certainly put him on your radar. But for those of us who already knew and believed in the 20/20 upside, should his fantastic spring boost his stock even more? In other words, should we consider him a top 12 SS option for this season? After digging through some minor league stats from past years, the conclusion I came to is that I’m not so sure it should matter at all.
It didn’t take much searching before I found a good comparable, Mike Zunino. Just last spring, Zunino triple-slashed, .353/.431/.882, and jacked 7 homers in 58 spring training PA. Maybe this was a sign that the talented young hitter would finally break out? Nope. He followed that up with a regular season line of .174/.230/.300. The spring stats meant nothing. Similar to Story, Zunino was a young hitter with real strikeout issues. It isn’t a perfect comp, as Zunino can’t draw walks quite as well as Story, and had a history of struggling in the big leagues already. But what it does say to me, is that even an extreme case of spring training success will not guarantee a safe floor, let alone it being a harbinger for great success in the regular season.
There are many more examples. Well regarded hitting prospect Brandon Drury triple-slashed, .435/.533/.957, with 3 homers in 30 spring training PA last year. He then went on to put up a .756 OPS, with 5 total homers in 567 minor league PA split between Double-A and Triple-A, before hitting .214/.254/.375 in his MLB cup of coffee last September. Is he still considered a good hitting prospect? Yes. But were those spring training stats a good indicator for what he might do in his first taste of the majors? No.
We all know the old adage that spring training stats don’t matter, but it doesn’t stop us from getting drawn in year after year. I needed to dig into past spring training stats to remind myself of that. Pitchers are working on specific things and have no interest in making adjustments to what the hitter is doing. If Trevor Story wasn’t on your radar before, consider this his coming out party, but if he was, his hot spring training shouldn’t mean much to you. He is a talented fantasy prospect (top 30 in my book) who can surely surprise right out of the gate, but the more likely scenario is that there will be some bumps along the way. Add in the uncertainly surrounding Jose Reyes’ situation, and I don’t think Story has a great chance of cracking the top 12 this season. For 2016, I will give him a projection of 55/13/51/.250/8. For dynasty leagues, the strong spring only reinforces my high hopes for Story, and I will stick with my prime projection of 79/20/83/.258/14.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)