From the perspective of someone watching baseball for the first time in their lives, the Indians look like a pretty terrible team right now. They are 4-9 with two multi-game losing streaks in the young spring training season.
Worse yet, they’ve blown multiple late leads. Wasn’t this bullpen supposed to be good? Where’s the great pitching? They have the 26th worst ERA as a staff, oh no. They have a negative run differential, are they just awful? The sky is falling.
Hold up, no. None of that is true. I mean, it might be true, but none of it is true because it’s happening in spring training.
Following spring training to watch young players get a taste of big league(ish) pitching is fun. Seeing pitchers build up their velocity as they prepare for the regular season is fun. Watching James Karinchak do whatever this is is the best. But actually seeing your team lose and thinking that at all correlates to the regular season is a fool’s errand.
If you drill down hard enough you can find some very specific instances where spring training performance could indicate something in the regular season. But it’s very rare and on a player-by-player basis, not as a way of evaluating a team as a whole.
Now with all that said, I’ve thrown up a quiz on Sporcle that lists, in the left column, all the spring training winning percentages of the Indians from 2006 to 2019 and, in the right column, all the winning percentages of the Indians in the regular season in the same time span.
Without lying or Googling, see how many you can manage to match in two minutes. If you’re a fast and lucky clicker, maybe all of them. If you’re trying to find a real correlation between the two columns, you won’t get very far.