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What is Spring Training and What is it’s Purpose

Courtesy of MLB
Courtesy of MLB

It’s February, you know what that means, baseball season starts soon. But February is also time for Spring Training. But what is Spring Training’s purpose and who plays during it? What is the cactus and grapefruit league? Do Spring Training Stats matter? All of these questions will be answered in this article.


What is the purpose of Spring Training:


Spring Training is underway but what is it and what is its purpose? Spring Training is a time for professional and minor-league players to prepare for the upcoming season either in the Florida Grapefruit League or Arizona’s Cactus League. Spring Training is essentially a preseason for the MLB, AAA, and AA. Carter Oh, a 5th grader at West Creek Elementary and a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, did not know what Spring Training was. When he was asked if he knew what Spring Training was, Carter said “I have no clue, is it like training that takes place for an event?” So a lot of young baseball fans don’t even know about a major part of their teams’ training in the off season. That’s why this article answers questions about Spring Training like what is it and its purpose so that young fans will be more aware of things their favorite teams do.


When did Spring Training Start?


The beginnings of Spring Training can be traced back to 1886. During that time, many baseball teams were located in the Northeast of the U.S. Because of this location, the extreme cold weather made it difficult for many teams to practice and prepare for the upcoming season. A handful of teams tried to practice inside, but Chicago White Stockings (Chicago Cubs) president Albert Spalding decided his team was going to train in Hot Springs Arkansas, where it was warmer and the team could practice outside, The White Stockings would go on to win the NL pennant that year and other teams followed the White Stockings to Hot Springs Arkansas to practice and to get in shape for the season. In the 1920s however, teams were looking to expand and find warmer weather, and that’s how teams got to Florida. 1913 is considered the official year the Florida Grapefruit League started according to the official website. The Arizona Cactus League was started in 1947 also according to their official website. Bill Veck was a minor league team owner in 1945 and he saw racial tolerance in Florida, so when he became the manager of the Cleveland Indians (Clevland Guardians) in 1947, he chose to have the team practice near Phoenix Arizona because the area was more racially tolerant and it was warmer. Other teams like the New York Giants (San Francisco Giants) would soon follow. And so the official places for Spring Training were Arizona and Florida. So that’s how Spring Training all started.

Courtesy of MLB

How did the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues get their names?


So we know about the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues but how did they get their names? Well, in 1915, the Brooklyn Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers) participated in a promotional stunt where aviator Ruth Law would drop a baseball from an airplane, and manager Wilbert Robinson would catch the ball. Law forgot the baseball though but she had a grapefruit, So she dropped it and upon impact, the grapefruit exploded. This became the birth of the name. The Cactus League would receive its name because the Cactus is a plant native to Arizona.


Which teams are in each league?


In today’s world of baseball, 30 teams call Florida and Arizona their Spring Training homes. 


The Cactus League is home to:

–  the Arizona Diamondbacks

– the Chicago Cubs

– the Cincinnati Reds

– the Cleveland Guardians

– the Colorado Rockies

– the Chicago White Sox

– the Kansas City Royals

– the Los Angeles Angels

– the Los Angeles Dodgers

– the Milwaukee Brewers

– the Oakland Athletics

– the San Diego Padres

– the San Francisco Giants

– the Seattle Mariners

– the Texas Rangers. 


The Grapefruit League is home to:

– the Atlanta Braves

– the Baltimore Orioles

– the Boston Red Sox

– the Detroit Tigers

– the Houston Astros

– the Miami Marlins

– the Minnesota Twins

– the New York Mets

– the New York Yankees

– the Philadelphia Phillies

– the Pittsburgh Pirates

– the St. Louis Cardinals

– the Tampa Bay Rays

– the Toronto Blue Jays

– the Washington Nationals.

Do Spring Training Stats matter?


            Now one thing people may wonder about Spring Training is that do Spring Training stats matter? The answer is yes and no. Team and player stats from Spring Training do not carry over into the regular season. So if a team or player does not do well in Spring Training, they will have a clean slate for the actual season. Now will how well a team did in Spring Training affect a team’s performance in the regular season? Somewhat. If a team consistently does well in Spring Training, that means they are well prepared and warmed up for the season. This could mean a team does well in the season or they could still do poorly. The same could be said for a team that does poorly in Spring Training. Either that team is not fully ready for the season and as such will do poorly, or they could so well. Take the 2016 Chicago Cubs. In Spring Training of that year, the Cubs finished 14th overall out of 15 teams in the Cactus League. Later that year the Cubs won the World Series. So how a team does in Spring Training could affect how a team does in the season, but luck could also play a role.




            So now you know all about Spring Training. You know its purpose, the way it works, how teams are organized, the two different leagues, the origins of Spring Training, and the origins of the leagues names. Spring Training is almost over and opening day is approaching but any confusion you may have had about Spring Training has hopefully been answered.

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