Friday, March 23, 2007

Is the Grapefruit League an Advantage???

I was going through Spring Training statistics today to see which I feel could be indicative of performance for the upcoming season (which will be my next post). One problem I was having was trying to get anything out of Cactus League numbers. Cactus league baseball isn't real baseball. That got me thinking two things.

1) Will Grapefruit League teams be better at choosing their 25-man rosters, as their spring training performances will show more of how the players truly are than Cactus League teams will be able to?

2) Due to playing "real" baseball in the Grapefruit League, will they have an advantage at the beginning of the season over Cactus League teams?

I don't have an answer yet for #1, or even a great way of going about figuring it out yet. However, #2 is a bit easier. I decided to look at how all of the Cactus League teams have done the first 15 games of the season over the past three years.

In 2006 the 12 Cactus League teams had a .488 winning percentage during the season. During the first 15 games they had a
.472 winning percentage, which included a .442 percentage against Grapefruit League teams.

In 2005 the 12 Cactus League teams had a .487 winning percentage during the season. During the first 15 games they had a .472 winning percentage, which included a .446 percentage against Grapefruit League teams.

In 2004 the 12 Cactus League teams had a .478 winning percentage during the season. During the first 15 games they had a .477 winning percentage, which included a .443 percentage against Grapefruit League teams. 2004 didn't have quite as large a sample size due to the fact that none of the AL West teams played a Grapefruit League team during the first 15 games.

What we can see though, is that all three seasons, the Cactus League teams had a worse record during the first 15 games, and played Grapefruit League teams to in a range of .442 to .446.

These one or two games at the beginning of the season could be the decider in a pennant race. Mostly it would impact the Wild Card race, as three divisions have all of their teams in the same Spring Training League. The biggest advantage goes to the Dodgers who play in a division with 4 Cactus League teams (until they move out to the Cactus League in a couple of years).

3 comments:

Sully said...

You mentioned the Dodgers - what you should do is compare how the Dodgers and the team that's moving to Arizona with them (I think it's the Indians), fare this year in the first 15 games, and then fares next year after the move. If there's a big drop, then you may have something.

Ross said...

I'm not sure that's the best way, although the Dodgers, being the only Grapefruit League team in their division would be the best example, but any team in any given year for 15 games could be an exception.

For me it's the fact that on the whole the 12 Cactus League teams each year don't play as well those first couple of weeks as their Grapefruit counterparts.

Sully said...

Well, you only have three years of data there... perhaps there's a chance that those 12 teams just aren't that good. Who plays in the Cactus League that's been a threat over the last few years? The White Sox, and...? Who's been a solid 90 win team each of those three years?

By your theory, the Indians and Dodgers should destroy the rest of the Cactus League next year. I guess their record in first 15 games of the regular season isn't the best indicator, but you can compare the results of the same teams in each league.