Mar 11, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman (30) in the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays at a spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Orioles are not getting the team results desired thus far in spring training 2015, falling to a record of 3-8 overall after yesterday’s 8-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Nobody is panicking, even though one might expect that if the O’s players are progressing in their skills on schedule, it might be expected that it would yield something closer to .500.
And certainly the later games in the spring are worth multiple times more in value than the early games. The veterans are playing more, and teams are working more toward getting into a tighter mode of play and a winning disposition.
So how do spring training records and regular season records compare over recent years? After a string of many losing seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have put together three consecutive winning years. Is there any correspondence to what happens in Florida?
Well here is chart of the past 10 years before this season for the Birds, comparing records from the Grapefruit League with the regular season…
A quick glance and overall summary at the chart above reveals that about half the time the spring season was somewhat predictive of the year to follow, and the other half of the time it had nothing to do with what eventuated.
For example, just last year a record of 13-9 when projected over a 162-game season equates to a win total of 96 – exactly what happened! However, in 2007 the Orioles were 16-13 in Florida but only won a total of 69 games that year. The numbers in 2005 are also entirely upside-down.
And remember the incredibly fast start that the Orioles put together in 2012 in getting out to a 19-9 record by early May? That would not have been predicted by the spring season where they were 11-13.
However, when you’re bad, you’re just bad … like the 2008 Orioles. They were dead last in Florida at 10-17, and then they proved they were a poor team by finishing last in the AL East that year with 68 wins total.
And to consider another team, the very best record just a year ago in the Grapefruit League was turned in by the Tampa Bay Rays. They were 16-7! For the season: 77-85. The Royals were 12-16 in the Cactus League last spring, but played in the World Series.
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So, no necessary reason to panic.
I still have to say it is troubling however to hear pitchers interviewed after getting shelled, saying things like, “I really felt good out there … not worried about the results … just working on my fastball command … got my work in …” But then again, I was the kid keeping score in tee-ball and yelling at my teammates for not paying attention and beating the other team to a pulp.