I've been checking the Spring Training statistics every couple days via the link at the top of this page. When I did so this morning, I was pleased to see the AB leader, Esteban German, had 39 ABs. At this point, the stats are becoming more useful. ABs can now be used to see which players are getting very serious looks by the major league clubs. German is set to play 2B full-time until Gold Glover Mark Grudzalaniek returns from minor knee surgery. With multiple position (2B/3B/OF) eligibility, a .422 OBP in 2006 (40 BBs with 279 ABs) and excellent minor league SB numbers (93 for 109 in past three AAA seasons), German may finally blossom into the sleeper I expected for years.
However, German is only leading in ABs due to an alphabetical sort. San Francisco Giant's OF Todd Linden has also had 39 ABs this spring, and he has impressed much more than German. With a line .436/.532/.692 in the same 39 ABs and 8 BBs versus 6 Ks, I see Linden on the same level of sleeper status as German. Linden doesn't have a temporary starting position in the OF, but he does have the good fortune of being the back-up OFer to Barry Bonds, Dave Roberts and Randy Winn. (At 27, he qualifies as part of the anticipated 2008 youth movement.)
Because the first half of Spring Training is dominated by inferior competition, a case can be made that Linden is only producing against the same level of competition he has come to dominate in his five years in AAA, and, frankly, I cannot dispute that. Or better said, strongly dispute with the certainty of someone who isn't playing Devil's advocate.
However, I separated his professional career by minor and major league production. There is obvious growth in his AAA numbers. Is his hot spring a sign of the growth to come in his major league ones?
Click Read more to view his professional stats.