For a baseball player, MLB spring training is like hand measurements and 40-yard-dash times at the NFL combine. It’s a necessary function of the evaluation process but guarantees nothing about a guy’s future prospects when games get serious.

Likewise, the performance of a team or player in spring training doesn’t indicate anything about how the regular season may end. There have been teams that looked great in the spring but flopped during the season and vice versa.

Spring training is more like a glorified health club than anything that represents high-leverage competition. It’s a means to achieve better performance when the season actually starts. The baseball world is still waiting for a player to earn the moniker “Mr. March.”

But what spring training does provide us is a blueprint for how teams may achieve their playoff goals. Injuries, breakout performances and drama can all indicate—positively and negatively—what action a team may take to chase a division crown.

We won’t come out of this year’s spring training with an idea of who might win the World Series or a division title. However, what may have been a clearer playoff picture when spring began now resembles more of an abstract painting.

Spring training hasn’t told us where the road to the playoffs may turn. But it has given us an indication as to where those turns lie.

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