We demonstrated the direct correlation last fall between how much money MLB teams spend on their rosters and what the chances of winning the World Series actually are for those teams as well as the ones that do not spend as much.
Now, we face a new question: In this 60-game season, does that financial disparity still matter? Is the field more “even” for low-spending teams? Let’s look at the 2020 payroll numbers to figure it out.
Let’s look at the Top 10 teams in spending: New York (AL), Los Angeles (NL), Boston, Houston, Chicago (NL), New York (NL), Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and San Diego (!). Yes, the Padres have moved into the Top 10 … what a world!
Of those 10 teams, four of them currently have winning percentages over .600, which equates to a 97-win season in a normal year. Two of those teams have winning percentages under .400 right now—the equivalent of a 65-win season in a 162-game season. The other four teams are under .500 right now.
It’s early, and there is volatility to sort out as more games are played, but right now, there does not seem to be an advantage to having the high payroll. That could change as more games are played.
Conversely, let’s look at the bottom-spending teams: Seattle, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Oakland, Kansas City, Miami, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. Six of those 10 teams have winning records, including two teams posting records over the .600 mark right now. Three of the “cheap” teams have records under .400, currently. One team is playing .467 ball as of August 11.
It would seem the more-frugal organizations are playing better right now, at a glance. However, most teams have played just 15 games or so, and this is a small sample size. Certainly, some of the more-expensive rosters won’t continue to flounder over the “long haul” of 60 games, and some of the less-expensive rosters will not continue to thrive the more games are played.
This may have been a fruitless exercise giving the small sample of games, so we will check in again at the halfway mark in a few weeks to see if anything has changed. But for now, wouldn’t it be great to see the Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays (28th in payroll, playing .556 ball) in the World Series?
We think so.