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The Reality of Spring Training

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I'm tired of hearing about the meaninglessness of the records and statistics in Spring Training. Maybe we can't take the records, and stats at face value, but they are still useful.

Before the internet was as prevalent is it is now, especially in sports, I remember checking the standings at the end of Spring Training one year. My eyes scrolled up to the team with the best record in the Grapefruit League, the Florida Marlins. This was back in 1997 and those Marlins as you know went on to win the World Series. It happened again last year when the San Francisco Giants exited Spring Training with the best record. So maybe there is something to Spring Training. Except there's not.

Looking back at previous Spring Trainings using  ESPN.com I see little evidence that the record and statistics of a team correlate to success in the regular season. Heading into the 2005 season the Astros had a -20 run differential. The White Sox, who brought their brooms, had a +6 and the team they beat in the ALCS, the Angels, had a +62 run differential heading into the season. Looking through the Spring Training standings since 2003 (as far back as they go) you can pick and choose things here or there, but nothing definitive is found.

So what then to do with Spring Training. We can't get to high or down on results, and discounting it all together isn't the answer either. I've had an epiphany.

Spring Training is a reality check.

The offseason is filled with numerous transactions that change teams from year to year. With the blooming of Spring comes hope and aspirations for the upcoming season. It's easy to brush off the faults of ones team during the offseason. Heading into Spring Training it's easy to say that thos statistics, and the overall record of the team don't really matter, but doing so may only blind you from what's coming.

Spring Training is just that, training. It's preparing for the upcoming season, an evaluation process that's on going for the month of March. And that's exactly how we should view it as fans.

The offense looks absolutely horrendous, the pitching meh, and the defense... well the defense I can't really say. I've only been able to listen to a majority of the games via the radio, but it sounds like the kinks are still getting worked out in that respect.

We also find out that Will Carroll is in some way shape or form is related to Nostradamus, correctly identifying Jason Castro as an injury risk. Those who thought the bullpen could be a dominate force this season, have recoiled from the continued struggles of Sammy Gervacio and Alberto Arias to get healthy. And while we've seen positive indications that the farm system is proving, the overall record indicates there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.

Yes due to several different variables stats and records should not be taken at face value. Discounting them all together though is just as bad as taking them at face value.