With Thursday’s first spring training game upon us, I looked at St. Louis Cardinals spring records during the La Russa era with an eye toward the regular season.
I will be the first to admit that spring games don’t mean anything… Or do they?
Certainly, the St. Louis Cardinals don’t get the in-season pleasure of meeting the Florida Marlins and New York Mets almost half the time as they do in Florida this March. Yet, as the old line goes, “Winning becomes a habit.”
Last spring’s 19-12 record by the Cardinals was third-best in the then-16 team Grapefruit League, with only the Yankees and Braves having put together a better mark, and it was second-best in the mythical spring National League Central Division behind Milwaukee.
Only twice in Tony La Russa’s 14-year tenure did his Cardinals club not post a winning spring record, in 2003 and 1998. Not coincidentally perhaps, St. Louis missed the playoffs both years. Only in three years was the Cardinals’ spring record not among the top two in the NL Central.
In the small consolation department, even when the Cardinals had a below-.500 spring record, there were still either two or three NL Central clubs that fared even worse. Note the two sub-.500 springs of 14 (in bold) and three sub-.500 regular seasons of 14 did not occur in the same years.
As another firm reminder not to read too much into this, the Cardinals’ best spring under Tony was their .656 (21-11) showing in 1997. That club went on to miss the playoffs in the regular season and in fact, posted La Russa’s worst single-season mark as Cardinals manager at .451 (73-89).
In the aggregate, La Russa’s Cardinals have been 20 points better in the spring than in the regular season, .564 to .544.
St. Louis Cardinals spring training and regular season results, 1996-2009
|Year||FL wins||FL losses||Ties||Pct.||FL rank||NLC rank||NLC rank||Pct||Reg wins||Reg losses||PS Result|
Other spring training-related articles you may have missed:
“St. Louis Cardinals spring training radio and television schedules” (XM schedules being added)
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