Rant of the Week: Do Mariners Spring Record And Stats Matter?
By Anthony Hill
With spring training in full swing, there is no better time for a spring-based rant. This week’s rant is based off one of the most universally asked questions in baseball: How much do spring training numbers actually matter?
With Mariners spring training being the first type of baseball since the Fall Classic, baseball fanatics are eager to get back to their old ways. However, fans should know that numbers from the Spring simply don’t matter.
Firstly, spring team records do not correlate with regular season records according to recent history.
Here is a list of World Series winners with their spring records and standings in their respective spring league.
2016: Chicago Cubs 11-19 (14th in Cactus League)
2015: Kansas City Royals 20-10 (2nd in Cactus League)
2014: San Francisco Giants 17-12 (4th in Cactus League)
2013: Boston Red Sox 17-17 (6th in Grapefruit League)
2012: San Francisco Giants 18-15 (5th in Cactus League)
2011: St. Louis Cardinals 14-16 (11th in Grapefruit League)
As you can see, since 2011 only one team that was in the top two of their league has won the World Series. To boot, the Mariners had a better record than each year’s world champion minus the spring of 2015.
Unless everyone begins to only play their major league lineup every spring training game, records will not correlate to regular season success. Even then, with nothing on the line, the effort just won’t be the same.
In 2013, the Mariners boasted a spring record of 22-11 and were 2nd in the Cactus league. That regular season, they finished 71-91. In 2016, they were 16-14 in spring but were only a couple games from a Wild Card spot.
Teams in spring ball do not care about the record, they care about keeping the team healthy and getting everyone their reps.
Individual Numbers Don’t Count Either
As much as records don’t count in spring training, neither do the individual stats.
A living example of this is Mariners ace, Felix Hernandez. He makes a strong case that there is no correlation between spring numbers and regular season performance.
Related Story: Mariners Worst Spring Training Loss
In the spring of 2009, Felix Hernandez had an ERA of 8.36 in three starts. He would finish that regular season with a win-loss of 19-5 with a 2.45 ERA. He would also finish 2nd in the Cy Young voting.
Another year in which his numbers didn’t correlate was 2014. His spring gave him a 4.73 ERA in four starts. He ended the regular season campaign with a 2.14 ERA and again finished 2nd in the Cy Young race.
Spring training isn’t meant to have the numbers dissected, it is purely for fan enjoyment and a warm-up for the players.
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For all managers during spring, they would rather have their players hit .100 throughout spring but always be making solid contact rather than them hit .300 but all their hits are cheap and are because of playing a young defense.
Leave spring training for what it is. A warm up for everybody. Fans, umpires, players, and staff alike.
Furthermore, don’t assume that low numbers in spring mean doom for the regular season. Through the first couple games of the season, Jose Altuve, a two-time batting champ, was hitting .088.
In his age 26 season, he will still be hitting way over .300. No amount of low spring numbers will change that.
Bringing it back to the Mariners, they are having a spring season that has seen great success, but as was seen yesterday in the team’s 24-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers, things are also not going they way they are expected to this coming regular season.
Next: Drew Smyly Off To A Great Spring Start
That could be because 12 different players have left to play in the WBC including huge names like Hernandez, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, and now, Drew Smyly.
Spring is spring, leave it as it is.