Does spring training record matter?

The conventional wisdom is that spring training is a time to try new players, have a look at the organizational depth and get an idea who to call up if necessary during the season, and a time for the veterans to get in top shape by opening day. A team's spring training record should not matter, right? This excellent analysis by Michael Wolverton of the Baseball Prospectus and ESPN, looked at all spring training records vis-a-vis a team's record the following season and reached the conclusion that "there's very little relationship between spring training records and regular season records, in the short term or the long term, whether you look at all teams or just the extreme ones."

That is the conventional wisdom proven. Also, the conventional wisdom is that the one single statistic measurement that has the closest correlation with wins in baseball is run differential (RS-RA). However, these Gardenhire Twins, break that conventional wisdom, as I showed here. How about that spring training record conventional wisdom and these Gardenhire Twins?

Here is the Twins spring training record the last few years and their finish in the AL division the same season:

2008: ST record: 15-15; season division rank: 2nd
2007: ST record: 14-17; season division rank: 3rd
2006: ST record: 20-12; season division rank: 1st
2005: ST record: 15-14; season division rank: 3rd
2004: ST record: 20-14; season division rank: 1st
2003: ST record: 19-13; season division rank: 1st
2002: ST record: 18-15; season division rank: 1st

So, it looks like the score is: Gardy Twins: 2, Conventional wisdom: 0

Spring training record does matter for these Minnesota Twins.

as a matter of fact, the correlation coefficient between the Twins' spring training record and their record during the season following that spring training is .849.

Here is a graph of the Twins' spring training (ST) records and regular season (RS) records, since 2002 (and the respective finish in the division during the regular season):

On a totally unrelated subject, Seth Stohs of Sethspeaks.net and the author of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook -2009 (the one and only book in its category) was more than kind to invite me to participate in his weekly podcast. You can here the podcast here. It was a spare of the moment, last minute thing and I was grossly unprepared, but it was fun. I hope to do that some time again.


Anonymous said...


Okay on the Twins, Spring Training and conventional wisdom. Very interesting.

How about this: Is there any kind of correlation between All Star break standings versus end of season standings.?



thrylos98 said...

Is there any kind of correlation between All Star break standings versus end of season standings

too many variables to do this, esp. since teams do not really stay put in the second half. If they are contenders they are looking to fill holes and if they are out of the race, they are looking to get rid of contracts and get prospects up to see if they can improve next season.

Marv said...

Fun stuff, thry.


thrylos98 said...

Thanks, Marv. Pretty interesting...

Anonymous said...

Always appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks again.


thrylos98 said...

thank you Blake