Thursday's Three Astros Things

USA TODAY Sports

Talking about breakout players, a new era in baseball, and a little something different.

1) Spring Training statistics don't matter

Spring Training statistics really don't matter, unless they do! At least according to the good folks at Acta Sports, publishers of the famous Bill James Handbook. In yesterday's mass e-mailing of John Dewan's Stat of the Week, they had this to say:

Who Are This Year's Potential Breakout Players? For the most part, Spring Training statistics provide little predictive value. Many players use that time to play into shape and to work on specific aspects of their game, such as developing a specific pitch. Often, players face less than major-league quality opponents. On top of that, the sample sizes are so small in Spring Training that, even if teams played them as they do the regular season, it would be difficult to predict performance levels for the rest of the season.

However, we have found one element of spring training performance that has some predictive value: power spikes. Players that show a 200-point increase in their slugging percentage over their career levels have performed significantly above their career marks in the upcoming season 60 percent of the time. Jose Bautista in spring of 2010 is the most famous recent example. Last season, the predictions nailed the breakout performances among catchers in Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Lucroy, and A.J. Pierzynski. Cody Ross, Billy Butler, and Tyler Colvin also enjoyed career years.

One Astro made this year's list, and it's none other than Rick Ankiel, checking in at #6. The list is pretty extensive, and Ankiel is the only Astro to make it. Here's the Top 10:

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Is it all a load of hogwash? Guess we'll just have to watch the upcoming season to find out!

Be sure to check out all the worthy offerings at Acta Sports!

2) Welcome to a new era!

Tom Verducci, one of my favorite baseball writers, has an interesting article over at Sports Illustrated about a new day dawning in Major League Baseball, with the advent of a host of new, young stars. While the only stars among the Astros may be the ones on their shirts, anyone who's been paying attention knows there are brighter ones on the way. While the Astros aren't mentioned in the story, it's a short leap of faith for fans of a team in the midst of rebuilding to see that we're doing things the right way. The message seems clear: Embrace the suffering for now, Astros fans, and know that better days are coming.

3) Blatant yellow journalism

I'm taking this opportunity to branch out a little. This isn't an Astros thing, but hey, maybe it could be an Astros thing if enough of us start clamoring for it at The Juice Box and at the Astros Minor League venues.

Just what is "it?" Well, the AAA Lehigh Valley Ironpigs — a Philadelphia Phillies franchise — are elevating the fan experience to a whole new level.

Hard for you to picture? Then check out this video!

True, maybe this is something better suited for a minor league park, but with the Astros new forward-thinking front office, I suppose it's something that could ultimately drive beer sales, which could keep owner Jim Crane from ever again having to cry poor.

Other benefits: Guys like Peter Gammons and Bud Selig could get together between innings at Minute Maid Park and engage in an activity that might mean more than their recent contributions, and as for the denizens of The Crawfish Boxes, instead of getting into a pi$$ing war in the comments section about the value of some player or an obscure statistic, you could just invite your antagonist to the ballgame for a showdown!

OK, I'm zipping it for now, Astros fans, because it's your turn to talk!

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