There’s been a lot said the last few weeks about the juggernaut that is the Rangers offense, the pitching they have, the team chemistry; but nothing said about the team payroll.
With the Yankees taking another early exit, and the Red Sox failing to even make the postseason, other teams have been stepping up. The Tampa Bay Rays made the postseason for the third time in four years while the Rangers are the American League pennant winners for the second straight season.
St Louis was the underdog throughout the postseason, scrapping their way to the World Series after being on the brink of elimination for much of the second half. They’ve been one of the more successful teams since 2004, with this being their third World Series appearance since then. Their payroll ranks 11th overall – below the highest third of teams.
With the exception of the Phillies you can’t even really pinpoint massive splashes of free agent signings that led their teams to post season success. Milwaukee used the trade market to beef up their team and the Diamondbacks were a young team of little known players who came together as a team.
The Tigers got healthy in a weaker division while the Yankees and Rangers both took some steps backwards in pitching. Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte both left the teams and free agents like Russell Martin and Adrian Beltre aren’t exactly the post children of “buying championships.”
Tampa Bay made the playoffs in consecutive seasons despite shedding 46% of their payroll during the offseason. Their notable free agent signings were Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, a pair of players who were still looking for jobs as spring training approached.
Whether baseball ever truly was a sport where championships could be bought at will is argument that rages on among sports fans everywhere; but you can’t make that same claim now.
Of the ten highest payrolls in baseball, only two of those teams made it to the post season; neither of them made it out of the first round. As the expensive teams age, the gap is becoming even more evident as bigger and bigger holes start appearing.
Money can’t buy you happiness, and it would appear it can’t buy you a World Series championship either.
Hopefully now we can give proper recognition to any and all teams who take home the title. It really is an accomplishment, regardless of the circumstances.