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Playing Fact or Fiction with All 30 MLB Teams' Spring Training Records

Joel ReuterFeatured Columnist IVAugust 25, 2016

Playing Fact or Fiction with All 30 MLB Teams' Spring Training Records

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    Picking up a win is always nice, but there is little question that win-loss records mean virtually nothing during spring training.

    It's a time for players to shake off the rust and get ready for the season, and for a camp full of players to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster.

    Despite that, we as fans still look at those records and root for our favorite team to win as many games as they can in the preseason.

    Here is my take on whether all 30 MLB teams' play has been "fact or fiction" this spring training, and where each team currently stands compared to the rest of their division.

AL East

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    Spring Standings (as of Mar. 20)

    1. Baltimore Orioles (15-6) 
    2. Tampa Bay Rays (14-9)
    3. Boston Red Sox (13-12)
    4. New York Yankees (10-15)
    5. Toronto Blue Jays (9-14) 

     

    What's Fact?

    The Yankees sitting below .500 may very well be how the first month of their season looks, if not longer. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are already headed for the DL, and it's looking more and more like Derek Jeter may join them.

    The Rays and Orioles should once again be in the thick of things, despite a payroll that doesn't quite stack up with the other three teams in the division (more so for the Rays).

    A few games over .500 is right where I expect the Red Sox to finish as well, though that will likely put them in last place rather than the middle of the pack in the AL East.

     

    What's Fiction?

    While I think they'll have a decent record and make a push for a wild card spot, I don't see the Orioles winning the division.

    The big one, though, is the Blue Jays, who went all-in with their offseason moves and have struggled mightily so far this spring. They have the pieces to contend for a division title and a World Series, and they should be much better come Opening Day and beyond.

AL Central

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    Spring Standings (as of Mar. 20)

    1. Kansas City Royals (18-6)
    2. Cleveland Indians (14-9)
    3. Detroit Tigers (14-10)
    4. Chicago White Sox (10-10)
    5. Minnesota Twins (11-12) 

     

    What's Fact?

    The Twins sitting in the cellar of this division seems to be exactly where they'll be this coming season. They still have one of the league's worst rotations despite their offseason moves.

    The Indians and Royals have both played well this season, and after their respective offseason moves they should be much improved from last year. Both have a chance to contend for a playoff spot.

    Though the White Sox were in position for a playoff spot until the final weeks of the season last year, they are more likely to play like a .500 team this season. A number of players overachieved last season, and their rotation is average at best behind Chris Sale and Jake Peavy.

     

    What's Fiction?

    It will be a major upset if the Tigers finish anywhere but first in the AL Central. They have the pieces to run away with the division. On paper, they are arguably the best team in the American League.

    While the Royals are an improved team, they are playing over their heads in the preseason. They're currently hitting .329/.382/.497 as a team. It seems unlikely that that will continue through the season.

AL West

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    Spring Standings (as of Mar. 20)

    1. Seattle Mariners (17-7)
    2. Texas Rangers (12-12)
    3. Oakland Athletics (9-12)
    4. Houston Astros (9-13)
    5. Los Angeles Angels (6-13) 

     

    What's Fact?

    Not much can be predicted from the AL West standings this spring. The division as a whole has struggled this preseason, outside of the Mariners.

    Depending on how well the Rangers are able to make up for their offseason losses, they may wind up finishing right around the .500 mark. They still have the pieces to make a run at the playoffs, but they could wind up being somewhat of a disappointment.

    The Astros are under .500, so that's one thing that will likely hold true in the regular season. Their current .409 winning percentage would mean 66 wins over a full season, and that may be the best-case scenario for the team this season.

     

    What's Fiction?

    After another offseason of significant additions, expectations are high for the Angels once again, so the worst record in all of spring training is a bit off-base.

    The Mariners are a team on the rise with a number of impressive young pieces, but they are at least a year away from making a serious run at contention, so they're overachieving.

    The A's are one of the biggest questions marks in the league this coming season, as their magic in close games last season may not be sustainable. Still, it would be a major surprise if they finished under .500 this coming season. 

NL East

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    Spring Standings (as of Mar. 20)

    1. Atlanta Braves (15-11)
    2. Washington Nationals (11-11)
    3. Philadelphia Phillies (11-12)
    4. New York Mets (9-10)
    5. Miami Marlins (10-12) 

     

    What's Fact?

    The Nationals are widely regarded as the best team in the league on paper, but it wouldn't be overly surprising to see the NL East standings look exactly how they do now when the 2013 season comes to a close.

    The Mets and Marlins are near locks to finish under .500 at the bottom of the division. The Marlins could have a hard time avoiding 100 losses—hey appear destined for last place.

     

    What's Fiction?

    While the final order may not be far off, the records are a different story. The Braves have been solid this spring, but the Nationals could both make a run at the best record in the National League, and a healthy Phillies team could be a postseason contender as well.

    Though the Braves winning the division wouldn't be a total surprise, seeing the Nationals anywhere but the top spot seems wrong at this point.

NL Central

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    Spring Standings

    1. St. Louis Cardinals (11-11)
    2. Chicago Cubs (12-14)
    3. Milwaukee Brewers (9-12)
    4. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-14)
    5. Cincinnati Reds (8-14) 

     

    What's Fact?

    While the Reds are the consensus favorites to win the NL Central, the Cardinals still have the pieces to make a run at a division title, even without Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse. Seeing them in first place isn't crazy.

    Though the Pirates made some solid additions this offseason, I still don't see them as legitimate contenders. Their streak of losing seasons may still be going strong when 2013 wraps up.

     

    What's Fiction?

    The NL Central remains one of the weaker divisions in baseball (ahead of only the AL Central in my mind), but not having a team over .500 this spring is pretty funny.

    The Reds and Cardinals are both expected to be serious contenders in the National League, and if the Brewers can get some pitching to back their potent offense, they too could be in the playoff picture.

    Much like the Angels in the American League, expectations are high for the Reds and seeing them post one of the worst record of the spring goes a long way towards reinforcing the idea that spring training results mean very little.

    On the flip side, if the Cubs are in second place beyond the first couple weeks of the season, it will be a huge upset.

NL West

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    Spring Standings

    1. Colorado Rockies (11-10)
    2. Arizona Diamondbacks (12-12)
    3. San Diego Padres (13-14)
    4. San Francisco Giants (10-11)
    5. Los Angeles Dodgers (9-14) 

     

    What's Fact?

    Though the Dodgers are expected to contend for a title, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them get off to a slow start like the Angels did last year. With Zack Greinke, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez battling injury, they may very well stumble out of the gates.

    The Padres at 13-14 would be equivalent to 77 wins over a full season of games, and that seems about right for a team that has some nice pieces but is still on the build.

    The Diamondbacks could make a run at the postseason and a second-place finish in the division if their busy offseason plays out in their favor, but their .500 record may be a more accurate depiction of where they're headed.

     

    What's Fiction?

    The Rockies in first place is certainly a case of fiction, as their pitching staff looks as though it will once again hold back one of the league's better offenses. Even if the pitching is drastically improved, they can't compete with the top three teams in the division.

    The reigning champion Giants are also far from where they're likely to finish, as they return essentially the same roster from last year's title team and are poised to make another run.

    Finally, despite what I said about the Dodgers stumbling out of the gates, there is zero chance they finish under .500 or in last place when all is said and done.

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