Does the Kansas City Royals’ Good Start Mean Anything At All?
Strictly speaking Spring Training has no bearing on the regular season. There are a lot of minor leaguers and reserves playing and the major leaguers are generally working on new approaches and tactics or easing themselves into the regular season. It is not merely unwise, but actually impossible to extrapolate anything from a Spring Training record.
But that is for the team and it is an interesting question as to whether wins have any effect on the players taking part in them. This is particularly relevant right now for the Kansas City Royals who are 13-1-1 after Sunday’s 17-8 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Although one does not like to read team form from Spring Training wins, it is generally accepted that individual form can be read to an extent. That is, after all, the entire premise behind having players battle for a starting job or a roster spot in the spring.
In this case, the Royals have individually done very well overall. The pitching, particularly the starting pitching, has been very sharp and the hitting has been explosive. They Royals have comfortable leads in both team batting average and team ERA. there is also an argument, and an interesting one, that by winning games regularly in the spring it will instil a winning attitude into the team going into the regular season. That is, they will go out and expect to win rather than hope not to lose.
I think there is a case to be had that a very good spring record might provide a boost to the team, but ultimately I am unconvinced. It is simply too easy to look at which teams have had very good spring records and note that their subsequent performance is randomly distributed. The apparent answer is that there is no correlation. The Royals might have a very good season this year, but it won’t be because they had a good spring.