Seattle Mariners: What defines a “successful” Spring Training?

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 16: Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by third base coach Scott Brosius #28 after hitting a two run home run during the third inning of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on March 16, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 16: Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by third base coach Scott Brosius #28 after hitting a two run home run during the third inning of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on March 16, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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Spring Training is upon us, bringing the hopes and aspirations of all 30 MLB teams to the forefront. Each year, however, some fans are fooled into reading too much into the successes and/or failures of their team prior to the regular season.

Mariners fans are all too familiar with this sentiment, having watched Mariners teams of the past dominate the Spring circuit then fail to ride such success into the regular season.

The upcoming season may particularly be more delicate than others. Despite the ongoing mediocrity of the Mariners, this year is the first time the organization has blatantly acknowledged they’re rebuilding. In doing so, the M’s have publicly announced they have no intention of competing for a playoff spot in 2019.

But some fans still have their hopes set on ending the longest-running playoff drought in major American professional sports. Any glimmer of hope the Mariners may bring this Spring could alter the expectations of its fanbase, but this could lead some fans down a path to heartbreak once again.

That said, the Mariners can still have a successful Spring without filling up stat sheets and blowing out glorified Double-A squads. But what exactly defines a “successful” Spring Training?

For a rebuilding team like the Mariners, progression denotes success. It’s especially important given how short of a timeline Jerry Dipoto has set to reach their window of contention. Nothing else matters. No Spring Training win or stat line will ever be indicative of what’s to come. Earlier today, Colby outlined several Spring Training clichés fans too often fall for.

This will be the Mariners’ most youthful big league camp in years, with 15 of the team’s consensus top 30 prospects set to participate. It will be an especially big opportunity for Kyle Lewis, who will look to get off to a good start to a critical season for his development and overall stock as he continues to fall down the organization’s ranks.

When analyzing the development and progression of several Mariners players this Spring, don’t look to their stat sheet as an indication of where they’re at. Instead, ask yourself questions such as these: If it’s a young pitcher, how are they handling the tougher competition? Are they locating their pitches well?

If it’s a hitter, have they made a change in their swing or overall approach? Are they showing clear signs of improvement, or still falling into their old habits?

These questions don’t strictly have to be asked about the team’s younger players, but its veterans as well. Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon are two big names coming off career-worst seasons and a bounce-back year from both could greatly help the Mariners on the field and in the trade market.

Spring Training is ultimately a time of hope and excitement, but it’s what exactly sparks these feelings that matters. Stats, wins, a player being “in the best shape” of their life – all of it is irrelevant, no matter what position your team currently finds itself in.

Next. Mariners fans - don't fall for these Spring Training traps. dark

But for the Mariners, it especially has no bearing on how far they will go in 2019 and beyond. Only the progression of its key veterans and young MLB hopefuls matters.

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