Archive - Mar 18, 2015

Do Spring Training Wins and Losses Matter?

You hear it every year. If a team is doing poorly in spring training, its general manager, manager, and players are likely to say: “Spring training games don’t count, we aren’t concerned with our record, guys are working on things, we are giving young players some looks” etc. They will also state clearly that spring training performance will have no bearing on the regular season, usually with some “throwing out/away” and “starting over” metaphor.

In contrast, if a team is doing well in spring training, you are likely to hear that they “like to win no matter what, everything is clicking and the team is playing well,” and of course that the “momentum will carry us into the regular season.”

The Cubs started 0-6-1 this spring training and still sit at just 6-9-1. During these early days Anthony Rizzo : “It is Spring Training, yes. Does it matter if we lost? No.” Manager , downplaying the record and emphasizing the type of play he was seeing (the good and the bad), but also hinting that winning mattered: “Of course it does,” Maddon said, “You always want to win.”

So does winning in spring training matter? I surveyed the field to see what we know, if anything, about the relationship between spring training and regular season performance.