Spring into autumn
Exhibition games rarely have carryover effect
Updated: Monday March 26, 2001 5:18 AM
By Lonny Krasnow, CNNSI.com
Anyone looking for the next World Series champion should not waste too much time studying the spring training standings. Heading into the final week of Grapefruit and Cactus League action, the Baltimore Orioles (16-9) and San Diego Padres (15-9) have the best exhibition records.
Are we going to see either of these teams in October? Yeah, right.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees share the worst spring mark at 8-17.
So what do exhibition records mean? Not much. The purpose of spring training is for players to shake off the rust, and for managers to determine who plays where. Winning comes right after identifying a fifth starter and getting a good tan.
Very little correlation exists between a team's success in spring training and its performance during the season. Only twice in the past 20 seasons has the team with the best spring training mark gone on win the World Series -- the '91 Minnesota Twins and the '97 Florida Marlins, who took the wild-card route to the postseason.
The New York Yankees dropped their first six exhibition games last season, finished 13-21, and then proceeded to win their third consecutive World Series title. Conversely, the Houston Astros went 20-11 in March before a dismal 72-90 campaign to open the Enron era.
Spring statistics are just as deceiving. Hitters might be experimenting with a new stance or working on going to the opposite field. Pitchers are just trying to build up their arm strength and maybe develop a new pitch.Do you think David Justice is losing sleep over his .162 average? Kevin Millwood knows his 15.07 ERA is wiped clean in a week.
Managers tend to discount spring training stats, unless a player really stands out like San Diego's Johnny Roskos did last year. The non-prospect hit .458 with four homers in 21 games last spring, but he had only one hit in 27 at-bats in the regular-season. This year Roskos is having an ordinary camp and is likely headed back to the minors.