Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Does the Spring Training Record Matter?

Today’s Feature Email goes a little something like this:

Dear Sports Sturm,

I Noticed the Rangers are currently playing .600 ball in spring training. If they were to win at that pace that would mean a 97 win season. I was curious how previous Rangers spring trainings have translated to the regular season.

James Gilliam

At 18-13, the Rangers are now sitting at .581 baseball since James wrote me, but you get the idea. So, is there a correlation between the spring training records and the regular season accomplishments?

Without looking, I would say absolutely not. But, let’s take a look:

The 5 best Win Percentage seasons in Ranger History were the following with the spring training records shown on the far right:

YearReg SeasonWin %Spring Rec

Table Tutorial

Hmm. A few good springs and a few bad ones. Not sure I see any correlations.

According to the Rangers media guide, it appears that 2 of the best spring trainings ever were 1998 and 1996, which also were 2 of the 3 years in Ranger history where they won the division.

The 5 most successful spring trainings (measured by wins) were 1995, 1998, 1992, 1996, and 2002. So, for the sake of fun, how did they do in the regular season those years? Please keep in mind that in 1995, spring training was extra long (almost 40 games) because they went through the “1st” spring training with replacement players and then the “2nd” was when the "real" players settled and returned to work by rushing through an impromptu spring.

YearSpring RecSeason RecWin %

Table Tutorial

Once again, 3 seasons over .500, and 2 seasons under .500. It is starting to look like there is no connection whatsoever.

Finally, what about the 5 worst seasons (Win Percentage) in Rangers history? What kind of springs did they have in those seasons?

YearReg SeasonWin %Spring Rec

Table Tutorial

2 winning springs, 3 losing. Surely, in 1972 and 1973, those teams were bad no matter when they played, but otherwise, the randomness is loud and clear.

From a Rangers historical perspective, James, there appears to be nearly zero connection between the results of the 30 games played in the spring time, and the 162 that are played for real.

I am sure there are very important things going on at Spring Training every year, but the results aren't one of them.

For many of us, that answer was always what we thought, but now the evidence seems to bear it out.

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