Spring Training for the Royals fans can be so confusing at times when we see pre-season greats such as Mark "Arizona Oppo Field Bomber" Teahen, Justin "I Hit It in Any Minor League Park" Huber, Ryan "Jedi Swing" Shealy, or Mike "My Swing is a Long as My White-T Goatee" Jacobs get dominated once the regular season starts. Even the team has taken 3 Cactus League Titles since 2006 with nothing to show for in the regular season.
With a couple hours on hand and a lot of yellow flavored Peeps in my stomach, I browsed the MLB.com stats page to do some amateur analysis. Though the data is limited to just 7 seasons of Spring Training stats, I found something that caught my attention.
This Spring, the Royals Team ERA in Innings 1 to 6 ranked 4th (4.28) out of all 30 MLB teams. I felt that ERA would handle the different games/innings pitched by each team and limit it to only the 1-6 innings to capture the starting pitching against Major League hitters. Finding that was a surprise, but more surprising was how consistantly bad the team pitching was the years before.
Could this 2013 starting pitching staff be unique and translate this ERA to the regular season? In order to quantify it, I looked at teams who qualified a top 14 finish out of all 30 teams in Spring Training and Regular Season based on 1-6 Innings Team ERA ranking. A 14th or better would be the Royals best finish in the 7 years of data.
*- Indicates playoff teams
7 - Braves*, Cubs, Tigers, Angels*, Marlins, Cardinals, Rays
55% of teams who ranked in the top 14 in Spring Training 1-6 Inning Team ERA has a 55% rate of finishing 14th or better in the regular season. Since 15th was the Royals best finish in this range, I made 14th the qualifier since that would be their best finish since... there's no data 1-6 Innings before 1999, so before at least 1999.
44% of teams who finished with a Spring Training and Regular Season ranking in 1-6 innings Team ERA of 14th or better made the playoffs that year.
There's factors (injuries, DH, PEDs, WBCs, STDs) that are not taking in consideration in this analysis that makes it a shaky case at best, but this is what the number say and how someone makes a case for the rankings and percentages can be positive or dismissive (depending on how much Hot Damn! you've been drinking). When the first pitch is thrown today, will all the Spring Training stats be useless? Maybe they won't or they will?