Baltimore Orioles: Examining Spring Training Records


Mar 17, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones (10) has some fun with his teammates before the start of the spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is often a time for tinkering, for giving players who are on the fringe of making the team playing time, and time to slowly get players ready for the grind that is the Major League Baseball season.

Yet, fans like to obsess over spring training records. So, I figured I would do an analysis of the last 10 years.

I am going to look at the best team in each league (American and National) in spring training, the worst team in each league, and the Orioles. Then, I will see if I can make any logical deductions from the findings.

2006 – Best: NL – Miami Marlins 19-9, AL – Kansas City Royals 17-10

Worst: NL – Washington Nationals 9-23, AL – Boston Red Sox 9-20

Baltimore Orioles – 13-17

Regular season results: Miami Marlins 78-84, Kansas City Royals 62-100, Washington Nationals 71-91, Boston Red Sox 86-76, Baltimore Orioles – 70-92.

As you can see, the good teams in Spring Training were bad, the Nationals stayed bad, the Red Sox were decent, and the Orioles were pretty bad. Most notably, the good teams in Spring Training were both below .500, and the Royals lost 100 games. Only the Rays had a worse season.

2007 – Best: NL – Arizona Diamondbacks 20-12, AL – Detroit Tigers 21-10

Worst: NL – New York Mets 12-21, Chicago White Sox 10-22

Baltimore Orioles – 16-13

Regular Season Results: Arizona Diamondbacks 90-72 (best record in NL), Detroit Tigers 88-74, New York Mets 88-74, Chicago White Sox 72-90, Baltimoe Orioles 69-93

Arizona was good in spring training, good in the regular season and then got swept by the Colorado Rockies in the NLCS. The Tigers were also good in both the regular season and spring training. The Mets were bad in spring training, but good in the regular season, barely missing the playoffs. The Sox were pretty bad in both, and the Orioles, well they were decent in the spring, but pretty bad come summer and fall.

2008 – Best: NL – New York Mets 20-11, AL – Oakland Athletics  and Tampa Bay Rays 18-8

Worst: NL – Chicago White Sox 11-19, San Francisco Giants 9-23

Baltimore Orioles – 10-17

Regular Season Results: New York Mets 89-73, Oakland Athletics 75-86, Tampa Bay Rays 97-65 (won division), Chicago White Sox 89-74 (won division), San Francisco Giants 72-90, Baltimore Orioles 68-93

In 2008, the Mets and Rays both had good springs and followed it up with winning seasons.  The White Sox had a bad spring but won their division. They lost to the Rays in the ALDS, as the Rays would go to the World Series and lose to the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Giants were the worst team in spring training and had a bad year (the last even year they have not won the World Series). The Orioles were bad all year long, leaving no hope for O’s fans.

2009 – Best: NL – Milwaukee Brewers 22-10, AL – Los Angeles Angels 26-8

Worst: NL – San Diego Padres 10-21, AL – Cleveland Indians 12-20

Baltimore Orioles 13-21

Regular Season Results – Milwaukee Brewers 80-82, Los Angeles Angels 97-65 (won division), San Diego Padres 75-87 Cleveland Indians 65-97, Baltimore Orioles 64-98

The Angels had a good spring and won their division, only to lose to the eventual champion Yankees in the ALCS. The Brewers had a middling year, the Padres and Indians had bad springs and followed it up with losing seasons, and the Orioles were in the midst of one of their worst stretches as an organization.

2010 – Best: NL – San Francisco Giants 23-12, AL – Tampa Bay Rays 20-8

Worst: NL – Pittsburgh Pirates 7-21, AL – Texas Rangers 10-19

Baltimore Orioles 12-17

Regular Season Results – San Francisco Giants 92-70 (won division), Tampa Bay Rays 96-66 (best record in AL), Pittsburgh Pirates 57-105, Texas Rangers 90-72 (won division), Baltimore Orioles 66-96

Both the Giants and the Rays won their divisions in 2010 in both the spring and in the regular season.  The Pirates were putrid the entire year, with one of the worst records in the last 10 years.  The Orioles also suffered through another dreadful year. The Rangers had a slow start with the worst record in the AL in spring, but eventually won their division. The Rangers went on to upset the Rays in the ALDS, then take out the Yankees before losing to the Giants in the World Series.

2011 – Best: NL – San Francisco Giants 23-12, AL – Kansas City Royals 20-10

Worst: NL – Houston Astros 11-24, AL – Chicago White Sox 11-20

Baltimore Orioles 15-15

Regular Season Results – San Francisco Giants 86-76. Kansas City Royals 71-91, Houston Astros 56-106, Chicago White Sox 79-83, Baltimore Orioles 69-93.

No playoff teams this year. The Giants, the model of consistency had a good spring followed by a good season, although not quite up to expectations. The Royals followed a strong spring with a rough season; the Astros forced their fans to sit through a mess of a year, spring training included. The Sox were a losing team by just a few games, and the Orioles were middling in spring, but finished with a losing record as Buck Showalter took over near the end of the season.

2012 – Best: NL – St. Louis Cardinals 16-9, AL – Toronto Blue Jays 24-7

Worst: NL – Pittsburgh Pirates 9-20, Cleveland Indians 7-22

Baltimore Orioles 11-13

Regular Season Results – St. Louis Cardinals 88-74 (second wild card), Toronto Blue Jays 73-89, Pittsburgh Pirates 79-83, Cleveland Indians 68-94, Baltimore Orioles 93-69 (second wild card)

The advent of the second wild card saw the NL spring training-leading Cardinals take that second wild card and ride it all the way to the NLCS, where it lost to the eventual champion Giants (remember, even year) in a battle for the ages. The Orioles also rode the second wild card to a stirring playoff series with the New York Yankees in the ALDS. The Yankees won, but the O’s made it much further than anyone expected.  The Jays had a good spring but a down year, the Pirates were bad in spring, but respectable and Indians’ fans had a long season, spring and summer combined.

2013 – Best: NL – Atlanta Braves 20-15, Kansas City Royals 25-7

Worst: NL – Los Angeles Dodgers 13-20, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 10-20

Baltimore Orioles 19-9

Regular Season Results – Atlanta Braves 96-66 (won division), Kansas City Royals 85-76, Los Angeles Dodgers 92-70 (won division), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 78-84, Baltimore Orioles 85-77

Of the good, bad and Baltimore in 2013, only the Angels had a losing record. Both the NL’s best and worst in spring training won their division, while the Royals had a good season, as did the Orioles, with both teams above .500. The Braves would go on to lose to the Dodgers in the NLDS, before the Cardinals ousted the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.

2014 – Best: NL – Miami Marlins 18-12, AL – Tampa Bay Rays 16-7

Worst: NL – Philadelphia Phillies 9-18, AL – Minnesota Twins 9-16

Baltimore Orioles 13-9

Regular Season Results – Miami Marlins 77-85, Tampa Bay Rays 77-85, Philadelphia Phillies 73-89, Minnesota Twins 70-92, Baltimore Orioles 96-66 (won division)

Last year, the good teams during spring training finished with identical 77-85 records. The Phillies and Twins both struggled throughout 2014.  The Orioles were pretty good in spring training, and really good in the regular season and the ALDS, before running into the Kansas City Royals.

So, what does this all prove?

Out of the last 9 years, 10 teams that were either the worst or best in their league in spring training made the playoffs. Seven were the best in their league in spring training, while three were the worst.  The Orioles were for the most part a middling team during spring training, with a few bad years during the team’s dark years. But, overall teams that have league-worst springs, more often than not have losing seasons.

While this exercise may not be the best way to show it, the point I want to get across is not to panic.  The Orioles are a proven team, giving players the opportunity to win just a few spots left on the team.  Many of the players are now veterans who don’t have to prove as much during the spring. The Orioles are going to be just fine, mark my words.