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Baseball playoffs: The waning influence of money

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  • Baseball playoffs: The waning influence of money

    The A's did it again. And although a very low payroll team is still a bit of a rarity, it seems like we've hit a spot where a very big payroll isn't much advantage either. Is it enough time to say the world is shifting away from the big spenders or is it just a cycle?

    Crazy money and the value of it hit its apex with the Yankees in the 2009 World Series. That season also saw five of the top 10 payrolls in MLB make the postseason, and only two of six playoff teams from the bottom half make it. Since then, though, things have changed.

    It's easier to divide into thirds since there are 30 teams. Here's the number of playoff reps from each third in the last four years, with payroll based on USA Today figures. Those figures are based on the start of the season and don't include in-season upgrades for, say, the Dodgers this year, but I don't think those adjustments would change these numbers:

    Top third Middle third Bottom third
    2009 5 2 1
    2010 4 3 1
    2011 3 3 2
    2012 5 4 1
    2012 w/o extra WC 3 4 1

    Also, in the last two years, we haven't had a World Series participant that ranked higher than ninth on the list (SF in 2010). Obviously that could change in the AL, but with the NL field set we're going to have one team ranking no higher than eighth. And the "average payroll position" (my self-created stat) of playoff teams has gone up every season. The teams, with WS teams in bold:

    NYY (1)
    Boston (4)
    LAA (6)
    Philadelphia (7)
    LAD (9)
    St. Louis (13)
    Colorado (18)
    Minnesota (24)
    AVG 10.25

    NYY (1)
    Philadelphia (4)
    San Francisco (9)
    Minnesota (10)
    Atlanta (15)
    Tampa Bay (19)
    Cincinnati (20)
    Texas (27)
    AVG 13.125

    NYY (1)
    Philadelphia (2)
    Detroit (10)
    St. Louis (11)
    Texas (13)

    Milwaukee (17)
    Arizona (25)
    Tampa Bay (29)
    AVG 13.5

    NYY (1)
    Detroit (5)
    Texas (6)
    San Francisco (8)
    St. Louis (9)
    Atlanta (16)
    Cincinnati (17)
    Baltimore (19)
    Washington (20)
    Oakland (29)
    AVG 13.0
    AVG W/O EXTRA WC’s 14.75

    What does it mean? I don't think we'll see spending itself decrease. But I think teams are going to be pretty comfortable getting into the mid-range and rolling the dice, and there's going to be a huge bias against longer contracts. We're already seeing some of that with the Red Sox salary dump.

    I don't know. Is it a new era or just a three-year blip?

  • #2
    Until the teams with lesser payrolls start winning the world series with some level of frequency there still is a glass ceiling.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Captain Cold Nose View Post
      Until the teams with lesser payrolls start winning the world series with some level of frequency there still is a glass ceiling.
      Actually, it would indicate something's wrong it "the lesser payrolls" were to begin winning the WS with some level of frequency. You want a system in which teams compete for the best players' services. Teams shouldn't be striving for mediocrity or the possibility of getting lucky.


      • #4
        The last time the A's reached the WS, their payroll was $19M. The following year, it jumped to $36M. Teams with low payrolls can make the postseason, although the odds are against them. Spending money on players doesn't guarantee anything - it simply brings the odds down to a more favorable chance.
        "Chuckie doesn't take on 2-0. Chuckie's hackin'." - Chuck Carr two days prior to being released by the Milwaukee Brewers


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