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37 players are on the MLB RESERVE LIST (three slots are open)

Last updated 11-17-2023
* bats or throws left
# bats both

Adbert Alzolay 
Michael Arias
Javier Assad
Ben Brown
Jose Cuas
Kyle Hendricks
Porter Hodge
* Bailey Horn
Caleb Kilian
Mark Leiter Jr
* Luke Little
Julian Merryweather
Daniel Palencia
Michael Rucker
* Drew Smyly
* Justin Steele
Jameson Taillon
Keegan Thompson
Hayden Wesneski 
* Jordan Wicks

Miguel Amaya
Yan Gomes

Nico Hoerner
Nick Madrigal
* Miles Mastrobuoni
* Matt Mervis
Christopher Morel
Dansby Swanson
Luis Vazquez
Patrick Wisdom

Kevin Alcantara
Alexander Canario
* Pete Crow-Armstrong
Brennen Davis
# Ian Happ
Seiya Suzuki
* Mike Tauchman


Minor League Rosters
Rule 5 Draft 
Minor League Free-Agents

Do Spring Training Wins and Losses Matter?

You hear it every year. If a team is doing poorly in spring training, its general manager, manager, and players are likely to say: “Spring training games don’t count, we aren’t concerned with our record, guys are working on things, we are giving young players some looks” etc. They will also state clearly that spring training performance will have no bearing on the regular season, usually with some “throwing out/away” and “starting over” metaphor.

In contrast, if a team is doing well in spring training, you are likely to hear that they “like to win no matter what, everything is clicking and the team is playing well,” and of course that the “momentum will carry us into the regular season.”

The Cubs started 0-6-1 this spring training and still sit at just 6-9-1. During these early days Anthony Rizzo stated definitively: “It is Spring Training, yes. Does it matter if we lost? No.” Manager Joe Maddon walked a bit on the line, downplaying the record and emphasizing the type of play he was seeing (the good and the bad), but also hinting that winning mattered: “Of course it does,” Maddon said, “You always want to win.”

So does winning in spring training matter? I surveyed the field to see what we know, if anything, about the relationship between spring training and regular season performance.

Sadly, much of what is out there is completely anecdotal and unhelpful. True Blue LA, for example, wants to remind us that “spring training records don’t matter” by looking at the definitive sample of one team—the Los Angeles Dodgers—over the past five years. Sigh… If you look, you will find writers for most teams making similar types of arguments in most years. In particular, if a team is doing very poorly in the spring or a surprise team is doing very well, it is a nice way to boost fan hopes going into the regular season. But otherwise these types of claims with this type of evidence are useless in understanding larger trends.

A bit better approach has been to examine subsets of teams and their won-loss records in spring training and the regular season. This essentially involves placing teams in categories (e.g. playoff teams), answering yes/no questions for each (e.g. above .500 in spring training or not?), and then reporting the counts as percentages.    

For example, a few years ago David Schofield at SweetSpot examined 10 years of spring training performances, looking at how some of the best and worst teams fared. Only one of the 14 teams with the best regular season record finished below .500 in spring training; but there were also plenty of playoff teams that had atrocious records in March. Perhaps not surprisingly, no team with the worst regular season record even finished above .500 in spring training; yet many teams who improved the most from regular season to regular season had terrible springs too. In a similar approach, an article on Bill James Online examined records over a 12-year-period and found that 69% of playoff teams finished above .500 in spring training. A piece in the New York Times in 2011 took a similar approach.

So these studies seem to point to some evidence that spring training records matter, but not very much, and really only at the tails—the best and worst teams. There is very little relationship between spring training and regular season records for the bulk of teams who are in the middle. This type of approach, however, is hindered by the sets of cases they chose—they don’t examine all teams but only certain subsets—and a small sample size of just a few seasons.

Others have tried to apply more advanced statistical approaches to all teams, but are likewise hindered by looking at too few seasons. A Bleacher Report article from several years ago, for example, presents fancy correlations of spring training and regular season records, but only does so for one season—2010—making any findings essentially meaningless. Beyond the Box Score examines the correlation of all teams’ spring training and regular season records for a five-year period (2007-2011) and someone else subsequently updated the piece a few weeks ago. Neither finds much correlation at all between spring and regular season records, but the snapshot of just a few years doesn’t tell us much.

Similarly, an article in the American Journal of Management estimates some simple linear regressions on team records over a 5-year period and finds that spring training performance is a weak predictor of regular season performance from year to year, especially in contrast to the previous year’s regular season performance which performs far better. The findings are a bit stronger when looking at the entire 5-year period: a team’s general performance in spring training over those five years correlates to its general performance in the regular season. Intuitively, this makes sense. Say in that period a really bad team finishes well below .500 in the regular season four times, but gets lucky once. Likewise, they do terribly in spring training in three seasons but have an okay record in the other two. If the “good” spring trainings occur before bad regular seasons and a “bad” spring preceded their lucky regular season, then the year-to-year correlations wouldn’t look very good. But 3/5 and 4/5 suggest a bit more of a pattern.

Still, five years makes for a pretty small sample. The smaller the sample the greater the likelihood the findings could be occurring just by chance (think of flipping a coin 10 times vs. 1,000 times, the more you flip the closer your overall results should be to 50/50 heads/tails if the coin is true) and the more likely a few big outliers could be throwing us off.

The best assessment I found on the topic was a piece at the Captain’s Blog in 2012. The author looked at all major league teams and all seasons from 1984-2011 and finds very little correlation between spring training and regular season performance. One interesting note, Joe Maddon’s former Tampa Rays were the only team that has had a strong relationship between spring training and regular season results on a year-by-year basis.  

But citing a small sample of just 28 seasons (which should tell you he has a better idea of what he is doing than the others), he more closely examines the divergence between spring training and regular season records for each team from year-to-year. Here again, however, he finds very little relationship. Zooming in on playoff teams only, he finds a bit more, showing that “two-thirds of all playoff teams over the last 28 years have at least played .500 in the spring, and only 13% have reached the post season after playing sub.-400 baseball.” Overall, he shows that “the chances of making the postseason gradually decrease as spring training records decline.”

The main takeaway from this piece and from my sense of reading widely on this topic, is that there is little to no correlation between spring training and regular season records. However, the extremes can be moderately predictive. A team that tears it up in spring training has a high likelihood of making the playoffs, and a team that has an atrocious spring record has a low likelihood of making the postseason. But for the remaining 25-27 teams each year, fans can focus on individual performances rather than team records.

Interestingly, that is where the new research is heading. Last year, demonstrated that “spring numbers can and should affect our predictions for a player’s regular-season production, but only slightly, and only after a particularly strong or weak performance.” Similarly, a new article in the Economist from a few weeks ago shows that while most spring training statistics are meaningless, peripheral stats (like strikeout rates or fly ball percentage) are predictive and that players ZiPS projects with spring training peripherals added outperformed ZiPS forecasts alone.



Nice think-piece, WI. You obviously put a lot of work into this. Overall, your theory and the work you cite all make sense. Since April results are barely predictive of May results, it stands to reason that March results are even less predictive of April results. I've had a thought on this topic over the last few years but not the effort to try to develop it. Rather than focusing on wins and losses, I would do a +/- system for runs scored and allowed similar to hockey, but instead of all spring innings, looking only at the innings where a substantial portion of the players on both teams were "MLB players," which I would define as players who are projected to have at least 0.5 WAR for the upcoming season. It might be my own self-deception as I've watched a lot of March baseball over the years, but I feel like you do get a good feel for the quality of teams as long as you factor out the "noise" of all the prospect who end up playing a substantial portion of spring innings, especially early in the spring.

[ ]

In reply to by John Beasley

My understanding is that spring records don't matter for most teams; however, those that have a spring record of 15%+/- their record of the previous regular season is an indicator of future performance shifting upward or downward for the team. Arizona is likely to have a good season if they continue to have a good spring and finish better than a .545 record. The giants will have a poor season if they have a record below .393. Baltimore and Detroit will trend downward and if they finish with spring records below .393 and .406 respectively. Cleveland is a team to watch if their spring record is below .375. I learned this system in the early 1990's; unfortunately, I don't remember the author or article. 15%+/- seemed to be an indicator of future performance - and it works for any spring.

[ ]

In reply to by GEOvITC

Well, my day job is submitting articles to peer reviewed academic journals, so it wouldn't be a flashback, but still a bit traumatic, so I hope this doesn't turn into that! And that also means that I don't have the time do a much more detailed analysis of this spring training issue.

But I'll say a couple of things about this 15% idea. First, the article you and I cited is limited because it is only looking at a 5-year snapshot. We'd simply need much more than that to be able to say anything definitive. Second, the cut-off of 15% is relatively arbitrary and we would also have to arbitrarily specify what we mean by "shifting upward or downward" from season to season. The nature of that process will inevitably leave some teams just over the line on one side or the other. Finally, we will end up with two types of errors--teams where the relationship predicts a change and we don't see one, and teams that change a lot that the 15% relationship misses.


As an example, let's take a look at the 2013 regular season, 2014 spring training season, and 2014 regular season. Seven teams saw a 15% or greater change (+ or -) in their winning percentage from the 2013 season to the 2014 spring training season. According to the argument, those teams should then see a corresponding "shift" upward or downward in the 2014 regular season.


Six were correct, with changes of 15% or more from the regular season to spring training accurately showing corresponding shifts in the next regular season. The Braves, Red Sox, and Rangers, all successful in 2013, tanked in 2014 ST and likewise did terrible in the 2014 regular season. On the other hand, the Marlins, Angels, and Mariners, who performed terrible in 2013 did well in 2014 ST and likewise had successful 2014 seasons. The changes from regular season record to regular season record for these six teams ranged from +/- 9% to 16%.


Looks good, right? But one of the seven teams missed badly. The Dodgers had a .568 winning percentage in 2013 and a 2014 spring training record of 7-12 (.368), yet they finished the 2014 regular season with a .580 winning percentage.


Moreover, the Astros improved by nearly 12% from 2013 to 2014, and the Diamondbacks got worse by over 10% from season to season (both changes more than some of 6 “correct” teams above), but neither shift is predicted by their spring training records because they didn’t change by over 15% from 2013 to ST 2014.


So now we have one shift predicted that didn’t happen and two big shifts not predicted by relationship alongside six accurate predictions—and six of nine (2/3rds) is not particularly strong. And my guess is that you can find similar patterns most years. For example, the 2012 Mariners had a .463 winning percentage, they improved to .667 in 2013 Spring Training (a huge 20.4% improvement), but finished the 2013 regular season with a .438 winning percentage (a 2.5% decrease).


Finally, to illustrate the arbitrary nature of the cut-off, let’s look at the Rays. They had a .564 winning percentage in 2013 and a 2014 spring training percentage of .696, or an improvement of 13.2%! This is just outside our 15% cut off. The Rays responded in the 2014 regular season with a .475 winning percentage, or a decrease of 8.9%–the opposite direction! If the Rays had turned just one more spring training loss into a win they would have fit the 15% change rule, and there is nothing magical about the 15% cut-off. So this is why the best way to study this question would be look at correlations of all teams and records, and to do so over many years—which is why I think the piece by William Juliano at the Captain’s Blog is the best assessment that I have seen. And the overall conclusion I came to—“a team that tears it up in spring training has a high likelihood of making the playoffs, and a team that has an atrocious spring record has a low likelihood of making the postseason”—seems to me to be about all that we can say. And that probably makes intuitive sense given the limitations of interpreting winning percentage based on just 30 games played.  



[ ]

In reply to by WISCGRAD

I am intrigued by your comments and my day job, my company, leaves me little time to properly respond. Thanks for your effort. The 15% rule has been a good indicator for my level of interest. It is insufficient on a larger scale to indicate if a team has improved for the upcoming season. Sorry for any inconvenience. You have truly gone beyond the call of duty. That's one reason I love this site. I find the writers to be gifted and informative along with many of the regulars. I visit often just to get thoughts regarding the Cubs and their development. Thanks again for your effort, analysis and comments.

d.barney almost took h.rondon's head off with a one was injured, an out was recorded, and laughs were exchanged.

MLB twitter accounts are getting pretty good.

if you don't know who Darren Rovell is, consider yourself lucky

@darrenrovellCubs Season Ticket Holder Gift: Baez signed ball & scarf (H/T @AndrewgVaughan)

@Cubs That cat though!  RT @darrenrovell: Cubs Season Ticket Holder Gift: Baez signed ball & scarf (H/T @AndrewgVaughan)

@darrenrovell @Cubs you guys include any goats?

@Cubs @darrenrovell No, but we just found a troll we can get off our hands.

I would say that spring games lost by players who won't make the team don't matter. I really look more at what happens when the starters from both teams are playing. In AZ it is better hitter's situation so pitchers often look better when the get to the regular season. Really good pitching in AZ is extra impressive while not good pitching isn't a reason to jump off a ledge. :) If a team is playing good sound fundamental baseball but loses more games than win in the spring, I don't get to bothered. Until starting pitchers are going 6 inning or more the bullpen isn't slotted into it's normal roles. Until the starting position players also play the whole game, it's not the real game situation. If our single A pitcher gives up a HR to their AAA hitter, I pay little attention :)

I don't see any mlb listing of the split squad game that Kyle Hendricks was supposed to start in. Also, the Reds vs Texasgame from AZ was postponed. Must be another weather day in beautiful AZ. Edwin Jackson is supposed to start the night game vs Dbacks. Hold that...Lots of twitter comments about Bryant hitting another HR in the 'B' game. Mark Gonzales: Almora makes a diving catch in CF to end the 5th. having quite a week. and Muskat: Kyle Hendricks has struck out 7, given up 5 hits over 5 IP vs Angels in B game. then Gonzo: Hendricks done after 5IP. Well, that and after leading off B5 with a double (lifted for pinch runner). Guess's website just doesn't cover b games.

So I get the Astros sorta dodged a bullet ‏@keithlaw 28 minutes ago Brady Aiken had to shut his first outing down after 12 pitches

wow...cj edwards to AAA camp. bit surprised (but not shocked) he's not going back to AA to start the year. fasttracking...

minor league designation doesn't mean a whole lot right now, but Edwards in AAA would be the logical progression. Unless a bunch of the major league surplus makes it through waivers or accepts minor league assignments.

night baseball! woo. also, what is up with a.rizzo's hair? my god...

i hope ARZ's front office is paying close attention to welly throwing out one of their speedsters by a few steps in the 1st... it's getting weird...almost like they're not bluffing about going into the season with their sketchy C options (especially with p.obrien not stepping up this spring). it's also looking like DET is going to go with j.mccann backing up the sketchy a.avilia given mccann's spring so that's probably 1 less team that was thought to be looking a backup.

Dang Baez really has lost some weight! He was batting .111 1 HR 1 RBI OBP of .111 And sure enough he took walk number 1 of the spring.

what a horrible 8th...too much to say, too little of it least it's all guys not expected to break with the team.

twitter seems to have been caught by surprise by Baez might start season in Iowa talk. I feel we all knew that after Winter Ball and a week of spring training. 


full of Maddon quotes about Baez in todays Tribune by Mark Gonzalez:Mad-don said Thursday night before Baez and the Cubs were scheduled to face the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields.
“Of course there’s a chance he might not make the team,” “There no law in regards to that." “We talked about the entitlement program that doesn’t exist. Everything has to be earned, especially with the young guys. When you’re a veteran guy you might come in here and have a bad camp, but you know the guy’s track record. It’s a different story." “A young guy is trying to earn his stripes, (but) you can’t give him the keys to the car. You just can’t do it, so you watch him closely.” “He has things he has to learn yet,” Maddon said. “He shows signs of brilliance. He has had a lot of good at-bats. He has hit some balls hard. And then he will show the out-of-control swing that bothers him a little bit, and I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me." “It’s just a young guy trying to figure this all out. He has incredible bat speed. (Mistakes) will be rectified. He just needs plate appearances.”

Recent comments

  • crunch (view)

    morel played somewhere besides 3rd and SS...he got 8 innings in CF, 2 putouts and an assist.

  • crunch (view)

    ryan flaherty new cubs bench coach.

  • crunch (view)

    bellinger wins comeback player of the year.  the AL winner was liam hendricks and his 5ip before he got tommy john...setting himself up for a 2025 shot at the award.

  • Bill (view)

    I hope that Perlaza goes on to have a successful career.  On most Cubs teams prior to the current administration, he would have been one of their more highly ranked prospects.  As far as the others are concerned, one or more may well go on to be much better than expected, but unfortunately there is no way to tell which one at the present time.  You can't keep everyone.

  • crunch (view)

    s.gray signs with the cards...3/75m

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    Another one of the nine Cubs post-2023 Rule 9 minor league 6YFA has signed, as RHP Carlos Guzman (acquired from the Tigers for Zack McKinstry at the end of Spring Training) signed a 2024 minor league contract with the Mets. 


    So RHRP Yovanny Cruz (SD), C-INF P. J. Higgins (CIN), and now Carlos Guzman (NYM) have already signed 2024 minor league contracts with new MLB organizations, and OF Yonathan Perlaza is headed for Korea (Hanhwa Eagles).

  • crunch (view)

    ...and back to 3rd for another game.  at this point i'm gonna hang back and when/if he actually plays 1st then i'll find it notable.  i am glad he's playing a good amount of 3rd, though...give the club one more good look at him there.  shrug

  • crunch (view)

    morel played SS last night (no errors)...hit a homer and a double.  he's got 2 of both in 19PA.

  • crunch (view)

    e.escobar was throwing 95-97mph on his fastball in 2023.

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    One more thing about Edwin Escobar. Even though he had accrued less than one year of MLB Service Time prior to signing with Nippon Ham in 2017 (he ended up eventually with Yokohama), he will have Article XIX-A rights by virtue of the seven seasons he spent in Japan. So he will be essentially locked on the 40-man roster (or at least he can't be outrighted without his consent), and he will be a FA whenever his contract expires.