Now that we're into the second week of the season, it's easy to forget what happened in spring training. Who cares that Oakland's Mark McGwire, coming off a .201 season, led all major league hitters with an average of .453? Through the first six games of the regular season, McGwire had nine hits, including five homers, in 20 at bats. That's what counts, right?
But don't toss out all those spring-training numbers with your TSONGAS IN '92 buttons. (By the way, does anyone throw out anything anymore, or is everything a potential collectible?) Let's take a last look at this spring's won-lost records because, in some instances, they can foretell what will happen in the regular season.
Consider this: From 1981 to '91, 61 teams had spring-training winning percentages that were at least 100 points higher than their regular-season winning percentages had been the previous year; 51 of those teams went on to have a better season than the year before—by an average of 12½ wins.
Under this formula, last year's last-to-first heroes, the Twins and the Braves, both qualified as teams to watch in '91, as did a number of the other surprise teams of the past decade—the '82 Braves, the '85 and '88 Dodgers, the '87 Twins, the '89 Orioles and the '90 Pirates. So what's in store for 1992? Keep an eye on the teams we've charted on the right. Their good showing in spring training may be an indication of good things to come.
Steve Hirdt is the executive vice-president of the Elias Sports Bureau, the official Statistician for Major League Baseball.
1991 REGULAR SEASON
1992 SPRING TRAINING