MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Spring failure doesn't mean anything in October

In past 10 years, five teams finished last in March but reached postseason

Spring failure doesn't mean anything in October

So your team has a really depressing record in the Cactus or Grapefruit League?

Don't lose heart. Don't lose sleep, either. The correlation between exhibition and regular-season records is shaky at best. Sometimes, it is, in fact, inverted.

An examination of the past 10 years of Spring Training success or failure holds out hope for baseball teams that lose a bunch of games in March.

In those 10 years, five teams had the worst exhibition records in either league in a given spring yet advanced to the postseason that October. Three of those teams made those leaps from March failure to summer success in the past three years.

The 2008 Chicago White Sox had the worst exhibition record in the American League but won the AL Central title before losing to Tampa Bay in the Division Series.

The 2010 Texas Rangers had the worst exhibition record in the AL but won their division in the regular season and ended up in the World Series.

The 2013 Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers tied for the worst exhibition record in the National League. But both qualified for the postseason. The Reds went in as a Wild Card but did not advance. The Dodgers won the NL West and advanced to the NL Championship Series.

In 2015, the Rangers again had the worst exhibition record in the AL but won their division.

No team went from having the worst exhibition record in its league to winning the World Series.

On the other hand, if your team is atop the Cactus or Grapefruit League standings, that is always a better alternative than losing, but this is no time to become complacent.

The 2007 D-backs, 2008 Rays, 2009 Angels, 2010 Giants, 2010 Rays, 2012 Cardinals, 2013 Braves and 2015 Mets had the best records in their leagues in Cactus/Grapefruit baseball and went on to the postseason.

But the only one of those teams to win the World Series was the 2010 Giants. That's one team out of 20 in the 10-year period. It's always more fun to win, but dominating in the Cactus/Grapefruit standings does not offer a pass to baseball's summit.

Here are the best and worst from each league in exhibition ball over the past 10 years and how they fared in the regular season:

2006

AL

• Best exhibition record, Kansas City, 17-10. Regular season: 62-100, fifth place, AL Central.

• Worst exhibition record: Boston, 9-20. Regular season: 86-76, third place, AL East.

NL

• Best record: Florida, 19-9. Regular season: 78-84, fourth place, NL East.

• Worst record: Washington, 9-23. Regular season: 71-91, fifth place, NL East.

2007

AL

• Best record: Detroit, 21-10. Regular season: 88-74, second place, AL Central.

• Worst record: White Sox, 10-22. Regular season: 72-90, fourth place, AL Central.

NL

• Best record: Arizona, 20-12. Regular season: 90-72, first place, NL West (advanced to Championship Series).

• Worst record: Mets, 12-21. Regular season, 88-74, second place, NL East.

2008

AL

• Best record: (Tie) Oakland, 20-8. Regular season, 75-86, third place, AL West.

Tampa Bay, 20-8. Regular season, 97-65, first place, AL East. (Advanced to World Series).

• Worst record: White Sox, 11-19. Regular season, 89-74, first place, AL Central (Lost Division Series).

NL

• Best record: Mets, 20-11. Regular season, 89-73, second place, NL East.

• Worst record: San Francisco, 9-23. Regular season, 72-90, fourth place, NL West.

2009

AL

• Best record: Angels, 26-8. Regular season: 97-65, first place, AL West. (Advanced to Championship Series).

• Worst record: Cleveland, 12-20. Regular season: 65-97, tied for fourth place, AL Central.

NL

• Best record: Milwaukee, 22-10. Regular season: 80-82, third place, NL Central.

• Worst record: San Diego, 10-21. Regular season: 75-87, fourth place, NL West.

2010

AL

• Best record: Tampa Bay, 20-8. Regular season: 96-66, first place, AL East. (Lost Division Series).

• Worst record: Texas, 10-19. Regular season: 90-72, first place, AL West. (Advanced to World Series).

NL

• Best record: San Francisco, 23-12. Regular season: 92-70, first place, NL West. (Won World Series).

• Worst record: Pittsburgh, 7-21. Regular season: 57-105, sixth place, NL Central.

2011

AL

• Best record: Kansas City, 2010. Regular season: 71-91, fourth place, AL Central.

• Worst record: White Sox, 11-20. Regular season: 79-83, third place, AL Central.

NL

• Best record: San Francisco, 23-12. Regular season: 86-76, second place, NL West.

• Worst record: Houston, 11-24. Regular season: 56-106, sixth place, NL Central.

2012

AL

• Best record: Toronto, 24-7. Regular season: 73-89, fourth place, AL East.

• Worst record: Cleveland, 7-22. Regular season: 68-94, fourth place, NL Central.

NL

• Best record: St. Louis, 16-9. Regular season: 88-74, second place NL Central. (Wild Card; advanced to Championship Series).

• Worst record: (Tie). Mets, 9-20. Regular season: 74-88, fourth place, NL East.

Pittsburgh, 9-20. Regular season: 79-83, fourth place, NL Central.

2013

AL

• Best record: Kansas City, 25-7. Regular season: 86-76, third place, AL Central.

• Worst record: Angels, 10-20. Regular season: 78-84, third place, AL West.

NL

• Best record: Atlanta, 20-15. Regular season: 96-66, first place, NL East. (Lost Division Series).

• Worst record: (Tie). Dodgers, 13-20. Regular season: 92-70, first place, NL West. (Advanced to Championship Series).

Cincinnati, 13-20. Regular season: 90-72, third place. (Wild Card, lost Wild Card Game).

2014

AL

• Best record: Tampa Bay, 16-7. Regular season: 77-85, fourth place, AL East.

• Worst record: Minnesota, 9-16. Regular season: 70-92, fifth place, AL Central.

NL

• Best record: Miami, 18-12. Regular season: 77-85, fourth place, NL East.

• Worst record: Philadelphia, 9-18. Regular season: 73-89, fifth place, NL East.

2015

AL

• Best record: Oakland, 22-11. Regular season: 68-94, fifth place, AL West.

• Worst record: Texas Rangers, 9-19. Regular season: 88-74, first place, AL West. (Lost Division Series).

NL

• Best record: Mets, 19-12. Regular season: 90-72, first place, NL East. (Advanced to World Series).

• Worst record: San Francisco, 13-21. Regular season, 84-78, second place NL West.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.