Madison Bumgarner allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings Tuesday in the Giants’ first Cactus League game, a 9-4 loss to the A’s. Oakland hit for the cycle in the bottom of the first inning. Bumgarner yielded hits to five of the 10 batters he faced. It was not an ideal spring debut. But none of this really matters.
“Right now, the results I’m not worried about, whether you go out there and strike out everyone or give up three to four runs or whatever it was today,” Bumgarner told CSN Bay Area after he finished his appearance. “Right now it’s just getting back into the swing of things … it’s just about getting the arm in shape, making pitches.”
We go over this every year when spring training games begin, and it’s probably worth filing another reminder right now: Cactus and Grapefruit League statistics are almost always useless. They can help determine roles and position battles for teams, but with an established guy like Bumgarner it’s better to just ignore the box scores.
Bumgarner owns a 2.88 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9 over his last 418 2/3 regular-season innings. He has a 2.14 ERA in 88 1/3 career postseason frames, including a 0.25 ERA in five World Series outings. If you want to worry about him, do it because of the huge workload he carried in 2010-2014 at ages 20-24, not because of a March 3 scrimmage. And we wouldn’t bother too much with that workload thing either.
Bumgarner ranks as a top-tier starter in our 2015 Rotoworld Baseball Online Draft Guide, alongside Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg. Get the Draft Guide now and you can see our entire breakdown of tiers at each position, as well as customizable rankings, ADP data, a closer report, mock drafts, profiles and projections for over 1,000 players, and much more.
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Semien Shows Out In Spring Debut
One of the A’s who had a big afternoon Tuesday against Bumgarner and the Giants was shortstop Marcus Semien. The 24-year-old slugged a two-run homer in the first inning, smacked an RBI single in the second inning, and then added a solo jack in the fifth inning for a final line of 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI.
We can’t claim Bumgarner’s spring stats are meaningless and then turn around and encourage excitement over Semien’s big 2015 Cactus League debut, but it does give us an excuse to talk about a player who looks like a potential fantasy sleeper for reasons beyond what happened Tuesday at a half-filled stadium in Arizona.
Semien, a sixth-round pick of the White Sox in 2011, registered a .903 OPS, 15 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in 105 games at Double-A Birmingham followed by an .859 OPS, 19 home runs, and 11 stolen bases in 115 games at Triple-A Charlotte. He is now lined up for everyday major league playing time in Oakland courtesy of a six-player offseason trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago. The average draft position for Semien is currently in the 300s, according to our Draft Guide data. Maybe take a late-round flier?
“A Leg Up” For Mister Micah
Scott Merkin of MLB.com wrote Tuesday that 24-year-old prospect Micah Johnson “might have a leg up” in the battle for starting second base duties among the candidates in White Sox camp this spring. For proper context, that puts the fleet-footed Johnson ahead of Emilio Bonifacio, Gordon Beckham, and Carlos Sanchez.
Johnson has stolen a whopping 125 bases in 302 minor league games and also owns a respectable .297/.366/.422 career batting line on the farm. If he does find his way into regular playing time in Chicago -- either by winning the Opening Day second base job or sliding into it midseason -- he could have considerable hidden fantasy value as a big-time base-stealer.
Pop From Jays’ Left Field Filler
Tuesday’s spring opener between the Pirates and Blue Jays got live treatment on MLB Network, so some of you may have seen Toronto outfielder Kevin Pillar take Bucs reliever Stolmy Pimentel deep over the left-field fence in the bottom of the third inning. Pillar figures to get regular starts in left field for much of April while Michael Saunders recovers from a partial meniscus tear.
Pillar, 26, batted .323/.359/.509 with 10 home runs and 27 stolen bases in 100 games last season at Triple-A Buffalo. He’s probably worth a draft pick in AL-only fantasy leagues, and daily fantasy players can expect him to be a sneaky-good value for the first couple weeks of the 2015 regular season.
On the topic of daily fantasy baseball … if you’re interested in trying it out, you can sign up now with FanDuel and get a 100% bonus on your deposit by following this bolded link. NHL, NBA, and NCAA basketball games are going on at the moment and we’ll run a big contest through Rotoworld for MLB’s Opening Day. It’s a booming industry and we plan to cover it more and more.