Calm Down Yankees Fans, Spring Training Records Mostly Worthless

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 23, 2017 3:18 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017 3:18 PM UTC

New York Yankees fans already are making plans for October baseball for their faithful nine as the Bombers are dominating the Grapefruit League with the best spring training record in baseball. Don’t get too excited yet.

As of March 23, the New York Yankees are 19-7 in Grapefruit League play, easily the best mark of any club in spring training in Florida or Arizona. The Bombers’ plus-44 run differential was second in the majors. If you believe Manager Joe Girardi, this is all a good thing.

“I think it’s important,” Girardi said recently to the media. “I think a winning culture is important with some of the younger guys. And one of the reasons we’re winning games is our younger guys who come in are really talented. And they add on or score runs late.”

What do you expect Girardi to say?

Currently on Bovada MLB odds, the Yankees are given a wins total of 82.5 for the regular season. Should their spring success mean you should go out and start betting the ‘over’?

All you need to know about spring records are that the Arizona Diamondbacks finished with the best in baseball in 2016 at 24-8. They were one of the biggest regular-season disappointments at 69-93 and essentially fired everyone in the organization. The Chicago Cubs were 11-19 last spring and finished 103-58 and won the franchise’s first World Series since 1908.

The Yankees were 14-16 last spring and then 84-78 in the regular season in missing the playoffs. The last time the Yankees won a playoff series in 2012, the team was 18-12 in Grapefruit League play and won the AL East at 95-67. Of teams that made the playoffs since 2003, about 60 percent of them had winning records in spring training and 40 percent were under .500.

Led by first baseman Greg Bird and catcher Gary Sanchez, the Yankees are raking this spring. They lead the Grapefruit League by a wide margin in runs. Sanchez is +1800 on MLB picks to win the AL MVP and +2800 to lead the majors in homers. The pitching remains a question. Luis Severino has been mediocre at best, while CC Sabathia has been terrible. They are two of the projected five starters.

Girardi’s club is going to start the season without starting shortstop Didi Gregorius as he will start it on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that likely keeps him out until May. He injured it playing for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic – that’s why most GMs don’t want their players competing in that event. Gregorius isn’t Derek Jeter but hit .276 with a career-high 20 homers and 70 RBIs last season so his bat will be missed. He’s also a good defender.

New York’s top prospect is shortstop Gleyber Torres, acquired from the Cubs in last summer’s Aroldis Chapman trade. But Torres is only 20 and not ready for the majors despite a terrific spring. The options to replace him aren’t great: utility man Ronald Torreyes; 22-year-old Tyler Wade, who has never played above Double-A; weak-hitting Pete Kozma; or former Met Ruben Tejada. Starlin Castro used to play shortstop with the Cubs, but if you move him off second base then you have a hole there.

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