First off, let’s acknowledge right off the bat—pun not intended—that the 2020 Major League Baseball season is just odd, for obvious reasons. That being said, the old maxim of buying a World Series title may still be in effect.

Now that the MLB postseason field is set, which teams were the biggest spenders? Which teams spent the least for their spot in October? Here’s the info, considering the average league payroll this year was $56.7M:

  • New York Yankees—$109.5M
  • Los Angeles Dodgers—$105.7M
  • Houston Astros—$82.5M
  • Chicago Cubs—$75.6M
  • San Diego Padres—$71.5M
  • St. Louis Cardinals—$71.1M
  • Atlanta Braves—$63M
  • Cincinnati Reds—$55.6M
  • Toronto Blue Jays—$54.3M
  • Chicago White Sox—$52.4M
  • Minnesota Twins—$47.3M
  • Milwaukee Brewers—$38.2M
  • Cleveland Indians—$37.4M
  • Oakland Athletics—$36.7M
  • Miami Marlins—$31.2M
  • Tampa Bay Rays—$28.3M

The teams in bold spent more than the league average, and the teams in italics spent less than the league average. It’s amazing to see that the majority of playoff teams spent less in 2020, and that may be part of the fluky nature of a 60-game season, rather than a 162-game season.

However, the top-spending playoff teams come from the four largest TV markets in the U.S., and we don’t think that is a coincidence. Odds, based on past analysis, that the eventual winner will come from the top spenders in this group is pretty strong.

Now, combine that with teams that posted the best records against other teams with winning records, and these should be your title favorites heading into the postseason: the Dodgers, the Cubs, and the Braves—in that order.

These are the only playoff teams that spent above-average money on payroll and finished 2020 with winning records against winning teams. We are not betting people, but … yeah. The combo of buying quality success helps a team go far in October baseball.

By the way, the teams below spent the most money to miss the playoffs:

  • Boston Red Sox—$83.5M
  • New York Mets—$76.6M
  • Philadelphia Phillies—$75.6M
  • San Francisco Giants—$71.4M
  • Washington Nationals—$67.4M
  • Los Angeles Angels—$66.4M
  • Texas Rangers—$62.6M
  • Colorado Rockies—$61.8M
  • Arizona Diamondbacks—$60M

It should be a long winter for those teams, as they beg fans to pony up for tickets (hopefully) in 2021. Boston already has dismissed its manager, and the Angels already have terminated their general manager’s contract.

No one likes to spend a lot of money to lose in America … ever.