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Do Spring Training Performances Matter ? (Part Three)

I’ve been looking at spring training stats, and am connecting them to the subsequent regular season performances and see if we can find a trend between play in spring training and in the regular season.

This week I’ll be looking at team stats.

Here are each of the 2019 playoff teams, with their record in spring training games:

Washington Nationals: 17-12 Houston Astros: 18-12 New York Yankees: 17-10 Los Angeles Dodgers: 14-15 Minnesota Twins: 14-13 Atlanta Braves: 16-16 St. Louis Cardinals: 12-15 Milwaukee Brewers: 19-14 Tampa Bay Rays: 13-17 Oakland A’s: 14-8

Of the ten playoff teams, seven played at a .500 or higher level.

I also took a look at the past ten World Series champions. Here are their spring training records:

2019 – Washington Nationals: 17-12 2018 – Boston Red Sox: 22-9 2017 – Houston Astros: 15-15 2016 – Chicago Cubs: 11-19 2015 – Kansas City Royals: 20-10 2014 – San Francisco Giants: 17-12 2013 – Boston Red Sox: 17-17 2012 – San Francisco Giants: 18-15 2011 – St. Louis Cardinals: 14-16 2010 – San Francisco Giants: 23-12

Does it matter? Well, I’d suspect that one would be hard pressed to find a manager who would say that he was managing to win games in February and March. The time is spent assessing players, and utilizing the players in a way that they get into shape by the beginning of the regular season. At the beginning of the spring particularly, the elite players often don’t play whole games and yield to young players/backups at some point, so it’s hard to get too hung up on wins and losses.

Some historical perspective:

– The great 1961 Yankees finished in dead last in the AL with a 10-19 spring training record.

– I researched the famed 1927 Yankees as well, using archives of the Sporting News. From what was published and readable, “Murderer’s Row” looked to have about a 16-9 spring training season.

Enjoy spring training. Only 31 days until Opening Day!

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