Even though it really does not matter, the Oakland Athletics won the abbreviated Cactus League title.
On Thursday, Major League Baseball took the unprecedented step of canceling the final two weeks of spring training and pushing Opening Day back another two weeks. One had to sense that such a move would be made, especially after the Oakland Athletics canceled their March home games and the Mariners needed to find another venue to play their own games in.
This means that our ability to evaluate players in a competitive atmosphere is at an end, at least for now. Spring training statistics may not mean anything, but they remain the best way to see which players, at least with a casual look, deserve more attention. It is a flawed process, but one that persists nonetheless.
Likewise, the standings in spring training are basically meaningless. Far too often, we see a team that performs well during those March games go on to falter during the regular season. After all, the Padres and Royals finished second and third respectively in Cactus League play in 2019.
However, for the A’s, that success in spring training in 2019 was a springboard for the regular season. They reached the postseason for the second consecutive season, although they were once again taken out in the Wild Card Game. Now, due to the abrupt ending of spring training contests, the A’s have once again taken home the Cactus League title.
It is difficult to say that this “championship” really means anything. After all, the A’s had a 14-16 record during the preseason in 2018, and went on to win 97 games. March, unless it includes an early slate of regular season play, means nothing.
But with Major League Baseball suspending play for four weeks, any possible momentum can make a difference. Perhaps winning the Cactus League title will still be a springboard once the season is ready to begin, something that can be pointed to as they get ready to compete once more.
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Spring training stats mean nothing, and team records in those games mean even less. But for the Oakland Athletics, a second consecutive Cactus League title could be a springboard to another successful regular season.