Spring Training is a time of uncontrolled optimism among baseball fans, especially for the teams that are absolutely kicking ass down in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. This year the teams that have the top five in winning percentages are the Kansas City (1.000), Mariners (.909), Baltimore (.778), Tampa Bay (.667), and Cleveland (.615). Of these five teams, three finished beneath .500
(the M’s, Indians, and Royals), and two finished with 90 or more wins (Tampa Bay and Baltimore*) in 2012.
All of these teams have been in the dumps for such a long time that they have some of the best farm systems in the league. This early on in Spring Training the main players in the games are the best players in each franchises system. The starters (who are pretty much guaranteed a roster spot) have yet to see any major playing time at this point; and if they are getting playing time it’s because they are trying to retool something or develop something new (for example, Smoak with his swing and Stephen Pryor with his change-up and curve ball).
Those are the primary reasons you really can’t trust Spring Training stats. There are just too many abnormal variables for anyone to figure out exactly how teams/players are going to end up doing as the season moves along. Sure the M’s 24 dingers so far in Spring Training are a sight to be hold, and the Royals with their sterling 10-o record is kind of surprising; but they aren’t really. After all the M’s haven’t made the playoffs in eleven years and the Royals haven’t really been relevant in a playoff race for at least that long. They’ve developed stronger farm systems, and as a result they are cruising through the early stretch of Spring ball. Ditto for Cleveland, Tampa, and Baltimore.
There really is no reason for the M’s and Kansas City to be sitting at the top of the MLB Standings at any point during the regular season; but hey, it’s baseball and anything can happen.
*Baltimore made the playoffs last season
Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.