MLB Season Underway: Does Spring Training Success Mean Regular Season Success?

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MLB Season Underway: Does Spring Training Success Mean Regular Season Success?
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

If you are a New York Yankees fan and see that the team has a losing record this spring, are you worried? 

Does a winning spring mean that the Kansas City Royals are finally going to have a good season? 

Is there any correlation between spring training wins and losses and regular season wins and losses?

Many baseball experts have looked at spring training results to see if they are a good indicator of what will happen in the regular season. The bottom line is they are not.


Best Spring Training Teams

In the last 15 years, the teams with the best spring training records are the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics. During that time period only the Diamondbacks and Athletics have winning records. 

What about a single season? Perhaps having a great spring in one year means a great regular season that same year.  Here are the top five spring training records in the last 15 years.

1997: Florida Marlins, 26-5
1998: Boston Red Sox, 20-8
1999: Kansas City Royals, 22-9
1999: Los Angeles Dodgers, 21-9
2002: Baltimore Orioles, 20-9

The Marlins and Red Sox each finished the regular season with records of 92-70, so they did well, but the Royals, Dodgers and Orioles finished below .500 in the regular season in those years and it was ugly for the Royals in 1999 and the Orioles in 2002.

If you go deeper, the results are pretty much the same, as seven of the top 15 teams with the best spring training records in the last 15 years ended up having a losing record in the regular season.


Worst Spring Training Records

What about the reverse in spring training results to regular season results?  Does a poor spring mean a poor regular season?  Let’s look at the past 10 years to get an idea.

2002: Cincinnati Reds, 9-22
2001: San Francisco Giants, 9-21
2001: New York Yankees, 9-20
2002: Chicago White Sox, 11-21
2002: Florida Marlins, 10-18

Of those five teams, it is almost split right down the middle. The Giants and Yankees had winning regular seasons; the White Sox finished exactly .500, while the Reds and Marlins were just under .500.


Bottom Line

When you look at a team’s spring training record you really have to pretty much throw it out the window. It won’t predict how they will do this season. Take a look at the odds in Las Vegas and you will get a better idea of what to expect from your team this season.

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