Payroll Not Deciding World Series Champion

Published on October 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Only one team ranked in the top 10 payrolls of the MLB are in the league championship series this year


Staff Writer


One of the knocks on the MLB in recent years has been there is not enough equality for each team. While leagues like the NFL and NBA have salary caps, the MLB does not. This gives teams in larger markets, with more of a fan base, a better chance to win because they can spend as much as they want.

Teams like the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox win more often than the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, and San Diego Padres because they can spend more money to get the best players. However, this year there is a definite break in that trend.

The four teams in their respective league championship series are the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals. According to, the team with the highest payroll out of those four is Detroit, who has the 10th highest payroll in the league.

The Cardinals are right behind the Tigers at 11th, the Rangers shortly thereafter at 13th, and finally the Brewers at 17th. As you can see, none of these teams are in the single digits.

The even more astounding fact is out of the top ten payrolls in baseball, only three of those teams made the playoffs this season. The teams that made the playoffs are the New York Yankees- first in the league- the Philadelphia Phillies- second in the league- and the aforementioned Tigers.

Teams three through nine all failed to make the postseason (the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and the Minnesota Twins). So we see that there is not a direct correlation between total payroll and winning.

That could not be truer in the case of the Tamp Bay Rays. The Rays have a whopping total payroll of roughly $41 million, good for second to last in the league. Their $41 million dollar payroll is roughly $160 million less than the Yankees’ total payroll of $202 million. However, since dropping the Devil in their name in 2008, the Rays have made the playoffs three out of the last four seasons, winning the AL East two times. They even made it to the World Series in 2008.

This season, they overcame a nine game deficit in the month of September against the mighty Boston Red Sox, and won the Wild Card. The Rays are the perfect symbol for the little fish making a big splash in the ocean.

While it may seem like the NFL is the king of equality and the MLB is the court jester, this season that is not the case. There is more to winning in the MLB than a high payroll. You must have a stable front office, players and coaches that believe they can win, and a loyal fan base. Having the ability to throw money at players is a definite plus, but there are more factors than just money.

  • Anonymous

    Amen. The “small market” teams (like my Padres) need to quit relying on the “small market” excuse for losing, and get serious like Tampa and Arizona did this year. It’s all about talent and desire, not just money.