Spring Training: Indicator for Regular Season Results?

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Spring Training has finally gotten underway, and the first games will be next week. With that in mind, Spring Training is where the managers make sure everyone is having consistent at-bats and innings and just making sure everyone has playing time before the season begins.

This got me thinking of whether good records during Spring Training for teams was a sign of things to come in the regular season or was it completely irrelevant? I’ll be taking a look at how the best and worst teams during the past five Spring Trainings fared during the regular season. Let’s take a look: 

2015: 

Best Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Oakland Athletics– The Athletics went 22-11 in Spring Training last year, best in the MLB and the Cactus League. However, during the regular season, they went 68-94 and last place in the AL West and worst record in the AL.

New York Mets The Mets had the best record in the NL and the Grapefruit League last Spring Training by going 19-12. During the regular season, they went 90-72 and won the NL East. They would go on to play the Royals in the World Series.

Worst Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Texas Rangers– The Rangers had the worst pre-season record in the MLB when they went 9-19. The regular season was a different story, as they went 88-74 and won the AL West and eventually lost the ALDS series.

Detroit Tigers– The Tigers had the second worst record during Spring Training by going 12-20. This was a sign of things to come as they finished the season at 74-87 and in last place in the AL Central.

 

2014: 

Best Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Tampa Bay RaysThe Rays went 16-7 during the preseason for the best record in the MLB. During the regular season, however, the Rays went 77-85 and fourth place in the AL East, 19 games out of first place.

Cleveland IndiansThe Indians also had a great Spring Training and went 20-9. During the regular season, they went 85-77 and finished in third place in the AL Central. Despite that, they only finished 5.0 games behind the AL Central title and 3.0 games behind that second Wild Card spot.

Worst Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Philadelphia PhilliesThe Phillies went 9-18 during the preseason as the worst team in the MLB during Spring Training. They didn’t fare any better during the regular season as they went 73-89 and last place in the NL East.

Minnesota TwinsThe Twins had the worst record in the AL during Spring Training by going 9-16. During the regular season, the Twins went 70-92, last place in the AL Central. They also had the second worst record in the AL.

 

2013: 

Best Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Kansas City RoyalsThe Royals had a terrific Spring Training by going 25-7, tops in the Majors. They didn’t do as well during the regular season, but it wasn’t a failure for the Royals. They went 86-76 for third place in the AL Central and finished 7.0 games behind for the division title and 5.5 games behind for the second Wild Card spot.

Baltimore OriolesThe Orioles went 19-9 during Spring Training–best in the Grapefruit League. They had some success, but not as much as they did during Spring Training. They did finish with a winning ballclub–85-77, tied for third in AL East. They finished 6.5 games behind the second Wild Card holder.

Worst Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Los Angeles AngelsThe Angels had the worst record in the MLB during Spring Training, 10-20. They went 78-84 in the regular season and in third place in the AL West. They finished 13.5 games behind the second Wild Card spot.

Los Angeles DodgersThe crosstown LA team didn’t fare much better during Spring Training. They went 13-20, worst in the NL. However, they went 92-70 in the regular season, winning the NL West by 11.0 games. They eventually lost the NLCS to the Cardinals in six games.

 

2012: 

Best Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Toronto Blue JaysThe Jays went 24-7 during Spring Training, tops in the Majors. However, during the regular season, they finished 73-89 and fourth place in the AL East.

Detroit TigersThe Tigers had the second best record during Spring Training by going 20-8. The Tigers continued their success by going 88-74 in the regular season and winning the AL Central division title. Detroit would go on to claim the AL pennant, but they would get swept by the Giants in the World Series.

Worst Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Cleveland IndiansCleveland had a horrific pre-season, going 7-22. That lack of success continued to the regular season when they went 68-94, finishing 20.0 games behind the Tigers for the AL Central title.

Pittsburgh PiratesThe Pirates didn’t fare any better. They went 9-20 during Spring Training and later went 79-83 for fourth place in the NL Central. They finished 9.0 games behind the second Wild Card holder.

 

2011: 

Best Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Kansas City RoyalsThe Royals went 20-10 as the best team in the Majors during Spring Training. However, they’d go on to fall in fourth place in the AL Central title by going 71-91–24.o games behind the Tigers.

San Francisco GiantsThe Giants had the best record in the NL by going 23-12 in Spring Training ballgames. They would go on to go 86-76, second place in the NL West. They finished 8.0 game behind the Dbacks for the division title and 4.0 games behind the lone Wild Card spot.

Worst Two Pre-Season Teams: 

Houston AstrosThe Astros went 11-24 in the Spring Training as the worst team in the MLB. This was a sign of things to come as the Astros also finished as the worst team in the MLB during the regular season as well. They went 56-106 and in sixth place in the NL Central, 40.0 games behind the division title.

Arizona DiamondbacksThe Dbacks went 12-25 and had the worst record in the Cactus League in 2011. They certainly fixed whatever went wrong in the pre-season as they would go on to a 94-68 record during the regular season and would win the NL West crown. The Dbacks would lose the NLDS in Game 5 to the Brewers.

 

As you can see, I highlighted the teams green if they had similar success (or lack thereof) during the regular season as Spring Training. Similarly, it’s red if it was the opposite. Grey indicates that it was slighly oppsite but not enough to be highlighted red. We looked at four teams for the past 5 Spring Trainings.

For the 20 different ball clubs we looked at, 9 suffered the same fate as they did during Spring Training, 7 had the opposite occur, and 4 had mixed results. Spring Training can be a great indicator for success, but we’ve seen where teams play horrible during the pre-season but would go on to win lots of ballgames during the regular season.

This is something to keep in mind as Cactus League and Grapefruit League action begins next week. Do you think Spring Training is a good indicator of how the regular season unfolds for that team?

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2 thoughts on “Spring Training: Indicator for Regular Season Results?

  1. Pingback: Spring Training: Indicator for Regular Season Results? | MLB Reports

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