As we have shown in the past, the winner of the World Series basically almost always has a high payroll. This season, we have 9 teams from the Top 12 payroll rankings in the postseason, meaning it’s very likely the 2022 champions will come from that select group of high spenders. It also means the Seattle Mariners, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Cleveland Guardians are serious underdogs to win it all.
In that group of nine, we also see the Los Angeles Dodgers (second in payroll), the New York Yankees (third), the Atlanta Braves (eighth), and the Houston Astros (ninth) with first-round playoff byes. This is the first year MLB is going with this new playoff format, so we’ve yet to see if it really is an advantage or not to rest for six days before entering the postseason fray.
The other five top-spending teams are among the eight teams in the wild-card round: the New York Mets (first), the Philadelphia Phillies (fourth), the San Diego Padres (fifth), the Toronto Blue Jays (eleventh), and the St. Louis Cardinals (twelfth). As noted, the Mariners (21st), the Rays (25th), and the Guardians (28th) are going to be long shots—but we’ve seen the Rays come close recently.
We’re not going to try to predict the specific winner with any seriousness; that is pointless in baseball, truthfully. But keep these stats in mind: record against winning teams and record in one-run games. To wit, the combined records of all playoff teams in these two scenarios, which includes some overlap, of course, follows below:
- Los Angeles: 16-15 in one-run games and 50-27 in games against teams over .500
- Houston: 28-16 and 42-27
- Atlanta: 26-18 and 40-37
- New York (NL): 21-15 and 45-37
- New York (AL): 31-27 and 50-43
- St. Louis: 26-17 and 34-38
- Cleveland: 28-17 and 34-34
- Toronto: 30-20 and 45-49
- Seattle: 34-22 and 38-33
- San Diego: 30-17 and 38-44
- Philadelphia: 22-25 and 34-47
- Tampa Bay: 27-27 and 41-48
So, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay look the most vulnerable, right off the bat, thanks to mediocre records in close games and bad records in games agains better competition. Therefore, we’d favor St. Louis over Philly in the first round, and we’d favor Cleveland over Tampa Bay in the first round. The other matchups? We will pick Seattle over Toronto in a road upset and the Mets over the Padres in a close one.
Advancing then, we get Yankees-Guardians, Mariners-Astros, Mets-Dodgers, and Cardinals-Braves. Oooh, this gets more interesting, of course. We will pick New York over Cleveland in 5 games, Houston over Seattle in 4 games, Dodgers over Mets in 5 games, and Atlanta over St. Louis in 4 games. No upsets there, although we would not be surprised to see New York beat Los Angeles in that NLDS matchup.
Sadly, we see the Trashstros beating the Yankees again in the ALCS, probably in 6 games, while we see the Dodgers beating the Braves in 7 games, to give us a rematch of the 2017 World Series, where Houston cheated its way to a world championship—the team’s only one in 60 seasons prior to this one. If there’s a baseball god, s/he would ensure the Dodgers win this rematch in a sweep for justice.
We can only hope.