Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
You can gain some value from performances in fall and winter leagues, but it's important to take in all of the information. For example, a pitcher struggling might be due to the fact that he's pitching in the offseason for the express reason of improving his change-up, and so is forcing 10-15 change-ups per outing, resulting in poor performance on the mound. Likewise, a player could post excellent rate stats but with a small sample size, and a few strong showings against poor pitching, that could easily be written off. But, that doesn't mean it's completely useless. If a player has a decent season, but then suddenly in the final month goes on a tear, his offseason league performance could be indicative of whether or not the hot streak was just that, a streak, or if a switch really did flip, and the player has turned a corner. But, without insight like that, fall and winter league performance must be taken with a grain of salt.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
In all honesty, fall and winter league performance means very little to me in terms of future success. I can find some value if there is a notable change made by the player -- something like changing mechanics, stopping switch hitting, or adding a new pitch. Generally speaking though, fall and winter performances have sample size that just lack the robust nature for any significant evaluation. I suppose there is room for a bit more optimism behind a strong fall or winter performance from a minor league player, as there is a likelihood some of them are playing against more advanced competition. However, that does not bely the fact that caution has to be taken when trying to gather information based on these brief off-season performances. For Major Leaguers, or minor league veterans, I sitll contend there is even less value in these performances, at least in the absense of significant alterations as suggested above. After all that, I probably should have just stuck with my first sentence. I really don't see these performances as suggesting particularly good or bad things in terms of future success. They can be an interesting data point for consideration in the conglomerate, but cannot be taken alone to make any reasonable projections.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I don't put too much stock into how a player performs in the fall and winter leagues, because in many cases, they may be working on one specific aspect that the team wants to see improvement in before spring training starts.
Pitchers may be working on refining and developing their secondary pitches or their mechanics, while position players may be working on their defense, or perhaps they are getting work at a new position.
Hitting-wise, a team may want to see specific improvement in handling breaking pitches, as well as their overall discipline at the plate.
Is it encouraging to see players do well in these leagues? Absolutely, because they may be turning the corner in their overall development, but at the same time, you have to take other factors (quality of league and talent, what the player was working on) into the overall context.
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