HEADING INTO the
final week of spring training, Cincinnati had the NL's best record, while Texas
was the top AL team. But if the Reds and the Rangers start feeling chesty, they
should ask the Royals how important Grapefruit and Cactus League games are.
Since 1996 Kansas City has a .554 preseason winning percentage—they were the
AL's best spring team twice—but they've never finished better than third in the
regular season during that span. Since MLB went to three divisions in 1994, in
fact, the team with the best exhibition mark in each league has made the
playoffs less than half the time. Here's where the top spring teams in each
league have finished since '94.
The '05 Angels become the fourth team to win their division after finishing
with their league's best spring record. None of the four has won the World
Wild Card (23.1%)
The '97 Marlins—who go on to win the Series—put up the best spring winning
percentage (.839) since 1990.
No Playoff (7.7%)
The '96 Angels become the first spring pennant winner to finish last when they
follow their 21--10 March mark with a 70--91 regular season.
In their final, horrid season in Montreal the '04 Expos play .633 ball in
Florida, then need 58 games—until June 10—to surpass their spring total of 19