By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Given that he’s the reigning National League MVP, you might think Ryan Braun would be tearing up Spring Training pitching.

And you would be wrong.

Opening Day is little more than a week away, but 2012 already has already delivered a few surprises, as well as some more predictable performances.

The Surprising

  • John Grabow has yet to give up an earned run. After a second mediocre season in Wrigley Field made him a target of fan frustration, the nine-year veteran seemed on the verge of Washed Up, and the best he could get for 2012 was a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But now, Grabow has a fighting chance at filling the final spot in the Dodgers’ regular-season bullpen. In six appearances this Spring, the 33-year-old has given up no runs, one walk, and only four hits across six innings, while striking out 7.
  • In Arizona, veteran reliever Craig Breslow has been outperformed by a low-level minor leaguer. With a lifetime ERA of 3.06, the odds are good that Breslow will find his form during the regular season, but so far this Spring he’s been ineffective, running up a 7.11 ERA in five appearances. The real shocker has been teammate Brett Lorin, a 6’7″ starter who has yet to play even Double-A ball yet. In 7 relief appearances this Spring, the 24-year-old is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA, five strikeouts, and nary a single walk.
  • Minor-leaguer Nate Freiman has 5 RBIs in just 5 at-bats. He’s yet to reach Double-A. He wasn’t on the San Diego Padres’ Spring Training roster, or among its non-roster invitees. But the 6’7″ first baseman has made the most of his limited opportunities this Spring. In 3 appearances, none of them as a starter, Freiman hit a three-run HR, an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly. Only two Jewish players — Danny Valencia (7 RBIs, 45 at-bats), and Ike Davis (6 RBIs, 35 at-bats) have driven in more runs.
  • Ryan Braun is hitting just .095. Narrowly escaping a 50-game suspension under MLB’s drug policy probably hasn’t helped Braun’s psyche any. But who would expect the N.L.’s 2011 MVP to have just 2 hits in 21 at-bats so far this Spring? To be fair, the Milwaukee Brewers’ 28-year-old left fielder has drawn 6 walks, giving him a respectable if modest .321 on-base percentage. Still…
  • The “other” Ryan is hitting .455. Boston Red Sox C Ryan Lavarnway, who made his Major League debut last August, has always swung a good bat. But his performance this Spring will make the Red Sox think twice about sending him down to AAA next week.


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The Predictable

  • Ian Kinsler is off to a fast start, hitting .368 with 3 HRs and 5 RBIs.
  • Sam Fuld is hitting .217, identical to his average across seven MLB Spring Trainings. Notwithstanding his remarkable start last April, Super Sam hits only slight better during the regular season, with a career average of .244.
  • Jason Marquis is struggling with his control. In 4 Spring stars, the newly-arrived Minnesota Twin is 1-1 with an 8.53 ERA, and he’s walked nearly twice as many batters (9) as he’s struck out (5).
For more detailed Spring Training stats, see the tables below.


Spring training games played through March 25, 2012
1Ben OrloffHOU2B210100.500.500.500
2Ryan LavarnwayBOSC33150435.455.486.515
3Nate FreimanSD1B521501.400.3331.000
4Ian KinslerTEX2B38143515.368.385.684
5Jake LemmermanLADSS310000.333.333.333
6Danny ValenciaMIN3B45123729.267.298.533
7Josh SatinNYM2B2770239.259.323.296
8Ike DavisNYM1B3581677.229.357.371
9Sam FuldTBLF2350055.217.357.217
10Kevin YoukilisBOS3B2860246.214.333.250
11Ryan BraunMILLF2121265.095.321.238


Spring Training games played through March 25, 2012
1John GrabowLAD100.00640017
2Daniel BerlindCHC000.00100010
3Brett LorinARI102.57742205
4Michael SchwimerPHI103.864.252215
5Scott FeldmanTEX024.50141777211
6Craig BreslowARI007.116.165534
7Jason MarquisMIN118.5312.219121295

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