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Halil Greene?

Sorry about today's late entry—as someone who once considered himself pretty thorough if he blogged three times in two weeks it's a continual learning process.

Anyway, we're getting to the part of spring training where the sample sizes start to seem meaningfully large—where even the most hardened ST observer looks at the fifty at-bats, the half-month of games, and says: this means something. 

Which is why the Khalil Greene optimist's club has grown at unprecedented rates over the last week; you get halfway through a month without striking out after doing so thirty-five times last May and it's natural to feel like the guy's turning a corner. But how does Spring work on hitters—are they less prone to strike out as a whole? 

Greene 15 41 17 5 0 1 .415 .432 .610 2.4
Spring 20 706 206 48 7 12 .292 .361 .431 16
2008 162 5636 1585 283 26 174 .281 .350 .433 17

So the team as a whole, then, isn't benefitting from the increased diet of AAAA pitchers and sub-90 fastballs. 

I don't know about you, but at this point I'm getting particularly antsy about debunking Greene's spring renaissance. I want to believe he's going to return to 2004 form, and I think he might, but as someone mentioned in the comments of a recent entry, if you believe in Greene's spring renaissance you also have to believe in Thudwick's Khalilian exploits to begin the year, and I just can't take that. Hands jammed over my ears, a song in my head, I went to the Baseball-Reference Play Index and looked for Greene's career zero-strikeout streaks.

Needless to say, they are not very attractive. How bad was Greene in 2008? He never went more than fifteen at-bats without a strikeout. You'll remember that that was Yadier Molina's average at-bats per strikeout last year. But this doesn't count long streaks that were broken in the middle by a single strikeout, or bookended with them—theoretically, his streaks could be five or six at-bats longer. But aside from that 37 at-bat run in 2004, he's never done much like this before. 

So is that it? Is there nothing to temper this terrible Spring predictability, to dampen our still-high expectations for Greene and raise them for our fallen hero Ludwick? I'd almost run out of hope before I thought to venture to ESPN's ugly spring training archive. There, off in a dark corner, are the Cardinals' 2008 spring training leaders:

PLAYER         AVG   G  AB   R   H  TB 2B 3B HR RBI 
A Pujols      .381  15  42   9  16  36  5  0  5  12
R Ankiel      .380  16  50   6  19  30  2  0  3   9
T Glaus       .368  15  38   5  14  20  3  0  1   5
S Schumaker   .354  15  48  11  17  26  1  1  2   7
A Kennedy     .350  13  40   5  14  17  3  0  0   6

Adam Kennedy—strikeout-prone middle infielder, requester of trades, breaker of small sample-size spells.

I'm optimistic about Greene—really optimistic, since the shortstops, last year, were so terrible as to make Khalil Greene a neutral move on-base-wise—but a lot can happen in 40 at-bats. 


12:05 start against the Phillies. Today the DH disappears and the Cardinals go back to hitting the pitcher eighth, which should just about cover the visiting team's radio guys for the first two innings. Thurston back at third; Wainwright pitching.