Parity? Competitive balance? I’m glad you ask.
Baseball’s competitive landscape has changed so much in recent years that it’s hard to grasp it all. It’s a new day, friends. Payroll no longer determines a team’s ability to compete. Smarts count, too. Big time.
So here’s to an Opening Day in which at least 25 of 30 teams believe they’re capable of going to the postseason. It has never been like this before.
Bud Selig had this crazy dream when he took over as commissioner 23 years ago. He believed the sport had to even the playing field and give more teams a chance to compete.
To that end, he commissioner a panel of economists and assorted other smart people to examine the sport. Selig laughs still when he remembers the day Paul Volcker, former Fed chairman, walked into his office.
“Big guy,” Selig said. “Cigar smoker. Brilliant. Intimidating.”
“He looks at me and says, `You have a problem,'” Selig remembered.
“Yeah, I know,” Selig told him. “That’s why you’re here.”
“You’ve got a system in which only about five teams are capable of winning,” Volcker said.
From this panel came change.
Revenue flowed from the larger-market teams to the smaller-market ones. A slotting system changed the draft. Also, about this time Billy Beane showed the world that there might be a better way of constructing a roster, one in which money wasn’t the deciding factor.
Little of this, little of that…
Here’s the bottom line:
- 13 of 30 teams have played at least one postseason series the last two years.
- 20 of 30 teams have played at least one the last five seasons.
- Six different franchises have won the American League the last seven years.
- Eight franchises have won the World Series the last 14 years.
- The average payroll rank of the last 10 World Series winners is eighth.
- In that time, the No. 1 payroll team has won just once–2009 Yankees
- In 2014, 3 of the top 5 payroll teams and 6 of top 11 missed postseason.