Bumgarner Gaining Hype In Spring Training — But Is It Too Early?

(Photo: Dinur/flickr)

Young lefty Madison Bumgarner has been garnering praise from beat writers into the season. So early that it’s still spring training.

Alex Pavlovic wrote:

Wouldn’t surprise me at all if we’re all talking about Madison Bumgarner’s Cy Young chances in a few months. Dude is LOCKED IN this spring.

And Andrew Baggarly tweeted:

Madison Bumgarner is on fire this spring. Three shutout innings, five strikeouts. Fielded position well, too. Determined dude. #fantasytip

Which, hey, is nice and all for fantasy drafts at the moment, but these are spring training games. A lot of the teams have minor leaguers and non-roster invitees, so there is obviously a big advantage for the major leaguers.

It’s easy to fall into the “BEST SHAPE OF THEIR LIVES!” trap this far into meaningless games because Aubrey Huff is doing pilates.

However, there is this bright, shining hope, as tweeted by Henry Schulman:

Bumgarner’s line over his two starts: 5.5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks.

But, it still is spring training and that is a small sample size. So small that it’s only five and something innings pitched (and as a tangent, since when has there been a pitcher going something-point-five innings?).

I, as much as the next Giants fan, want to see Bumgarner pitch phenomenally well and gain recognition for it, but this isn’t it. Spring training stats are never it.

Now, I’m no scout and I won’t even pretend to be (sabermetrics are more of my thing anyway), but the fact that Bumgarner is pitching well — as well as one can in a short time frame, at least — can be taken as a good sign of things to come.

But can Cy Young arguments be based on spring stats alone?

No. Never.

I mean, if this is the case, everyone should be freaking out about Tim Lincecum’s 4.0 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 13.50 ERA so far in spring. Sure, there are probably some people out there who are panicking over it, but there is absolutely no reason to.

It’s spring, it’s fake baseball (in the sense that these games do not count for anything) and I would rather see Lincecum failing big time in games that don’t count than games that do. Similarly, I would rather see Bumgarner excelling in the regular season over spring training.

Of course, it’s great to see Bumgarner pitching great in a short amount of time. However, there shouldn’t be a lot of analysis on his performance right now. It’ll be irrelevant in a month when Opening Day rolls around.

Then, the real analysis can start up. If he’s pitching marvelously then, well, bring on the Cy Young talk. But for now? Let it chill and get through spring training.

No one wants to hear about anyone being in the best shape of their lives again.

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