If Baseball downsized bad performing teams

I was thinking last night about there are the same group of teams in the cellar each year in the AL and NL. I know there are times some “good” teams have bad years but they usually don’t end up in last place. If Baseball followed corporate America and down-sized the worst teams who would we have left?

My question is if you took all the teams by league of course, how many have never been in dead last place?

I haven’t had the time to look it up. Anyone have any good guesses?

Yeah, but if every year you downsize whoever is on the bottom, what do you end up with after half a dozen years?

What you want is a relegation system, like in European soccer. The cellar-dwellers get knocked down to Triple A, and are replaced at the major league level by the best-performing Triple A clubs. Kind of throws the whole minor league system out of joint, but what the hell.

I don’t understand how some teams can perpetually do poorly. The leagues are a closed club, the players are traded, the teams themselves are bought and sold, and coaches come and go. It isn’t like you have the same Charlie Brown team of losers year after year.

I guess it depends on how you define perpetually. 23 of the 30 MLB teams have had at least one winning season in the last five (2002-2006), and if you go back ten years the number rises to 26 out of 30. Because it’s a zero sum game, every team can’t have a winning record every year. But I think those numbers suggest the level of competition is pretty good.

And for the sake of completeness, look at the four teams that haven’t won in the last ten years: Baltimore had a winning record 11 years ago (capping a stretch of five out of six seasons) Tampa Bay was an expansion team nine years ago; Milwaukee is in first place today; Pittsburgh won three straight division titles in the 90s.

I’m not sure that’s much different than you see in any other league based team sport.

Even the worst teams eventually have a good year. My Brewers are a great example, we haven’t had a winning season in 15 years, yet this year we spent 156 days in first place. (though I’m pretty sure we won’t have a winning season this year either)

You can’t have an underdog story without losers.

No reason to guess when we can just look it up. Half of the 30 MLB teams have finished in last place in their division at least once since 2000. Twenty-six of 30 have been in the cellar at least once since 1990. Four teams have not finished in last place since the 1980s, but all of them have a reasonable shot of doing it this year (Giants, White Sox, Orioles, Reds).

Your basic premise – (“I was thinking last night about there are the same group of teams in the cellar each year in the AL and NL”) – just doesn’t hold water. Who are those teams? Just take a look at the standings and you’ll see it isn’t so.

It’s a nice thought but I doubt it would work here with the MLB teams having huge stadiums and TV Contracts and the minors having 4000-6000 seat stadiums and little TV time.

What is needed is a salary cap like in the NFL. It could be phased in or each team could exempt one or two players form the calculation (the ‘Beckham Rule’).

The current luxury ‘tax’ doesn’t really matter when you have deep pockets like Steinbrenner.

The players union will never let that happen but after watching the Orioles do dismally for the 10th season in a row, I’m all for it.

At the risk of beating this dead horse any more, I want to go back to the OP… he said “dead last place”, and perhaps meant finishing with the worst record in the whole league, not just finishing last in your division. The factual answer remains the same… yes, every MLB team has finished with the worst record in their respective league at some time.

In fact, 12 of the 16 National League teams have done it since 1990, and so have 10 of the 14 American league teams.

The OP suggests that we have “the same group of teams in the cellar each year.” In reality, eight different teams have been at the bottom of the NL in the last eight years, and there’s a pretty good chance that a ninth different team will finish last this year (Washington, Cincinnati, Houston, and San Francisco are all within 3 games of the cellar with roughly 22 games left.

Except that AAA ballclubs are all affiliates and feeder teams for major league ballclubs, and their best players routinely get “called up” to the major league team.

So in a way, the best performing AAA players are already promoted to the majors. For a team like the Devil Rays to be a losing club for so very long means not only do they not have the megabucks to play the free agent game, their scouting and player development arms are bad enough that they can’t bring in high quality fresh blood up through the ranks either. Given that teams with the worst records get the earliest picks in the amateur player draft, it is rather remarkable to see how few standout talents they have brought up in the past 10 years.

Of course, agents like Scott Boras have shifted the playing field even at the developmental level by getting his clients to hold out for large signing bonuses and in some cases even reject contracts from the ballclub that drafted them out of school, and sit out a year instead (playing in an independent league not affiliated with the MLB/minor league system), so it’s possible the D-Rays have shied away from top-shelf talent they were “entitled” to due to concerns of not being able to actually sign them. But the Boras strategy is still not prevalent among draftees, it is my impression that the majority of the young guys are still happy to be picked and hope to break into the majors however soon they can.

There isn’t necessarily an incentive to win. Why should the Cubs spend money on great players and coaches when they sell out every home game anyway? Wrigley Field is like a beer garden with a really big HD TV.

Thanks, this is what I was thinking about. I guess my early supposition was wrong. I am more of an AL guy. I see the Devil Rays stinking the place up year after year finishing last or very close to last and except for this year you could have put the Brewers in there as well.

One curious thing is, if you relegated the Devil Rays this year to AAA, for the crime of uneblieveable suckitude, their farm team, the Durham Bulls, is actually in the AAA International League playoffs right now, and so would be a contender to replace them.

Does delegation actually work? If you had Division 1 and 2, it seems like relegation would tend to create a Division 1.5, with the same 4-5 teams going up or down each year.

Exactly the same thing happens with players European football, the difference being that it’s financial deals that ‘promotes’ them. Nurturing young players and bringing them up to the level they can compete at the top level is a major source of income for clubs in the second or third tier.

If you suddenly imposed it, then yeah, you’d have some screwed-up situation like that.

Yes and no. In the years in England since the establishment of the Premier League (a convenient watershed), yes, there tend to be a core of teams that bounce back and forth from year to year. However, there have been notable success stories (teams that won promotion and have stuck). And, perhaps more important, teams that manage to financially screw the pooch end up sinking to where their financial mismanagement belongs. Leeds leap to mind; Leicester City aren’t far behind.

Relegation doesn’t really do much at the top any more in European leagues, because the money simply is too grand for the elite teams. Where the promotion/relegation system works its true magic is in the middle leagues, where a team that makes a decision to up its ante can work its way up the leagues in a few years. Contrast the NCAA, where all it takes is building a bigger stadium and offering more scholarships, and becoming a Division I team. :wink:

Notts Forest are another, and impressively they’ve still had over 20,000 average attendance for the last two two seasons down in League One.

Very true, but there’s still a huge battle at the top of the table, for the Champions League places. Teams like Liverpool and Arsenal have had this as a primary target for many years. Especially Liverpool, who have this perpetual feeling that even if they can’t win at home, they’ll win in Europe.

Absolutely. And for 99% of fans for 99% of the time, it’s not even about that, it’s about making a 24-team league interesting for all 24 teams for most of the season, never mind what follows.
Edit: More than a quibble - the establishment of the Premier League isn’t just a convenient marker, it was a major divisive factor, splitting money in favour of the top division.

Another major question would be how players are distributed. Currently, major league teams draft players out of high school or college, and assign them to their farm system to develop. If those farm systems were all of a sudden seperated and competing with their former parent clubs, then the entire draft system would no longer work: Where would you seed the fifth best team in the second tier, compared to the 10th best in the first tier?
The draft system is somewhat ideologically opposed to the relegation system: one is intended to establish parity, the other to reward excellence.
The way the English League works, is that top flight clubs will sign a player, and then assign them to play for their youth clubs as the player develops. I know that second rate teams like my dear QPR has a youth system, but I imagine when you get down into the fourth or fifth levels, the clubs would no longer have the resources to maintain u-14, u-17,u-19 and u-21 clubs. How do they attract talent? Tryouts on the village green each summer?

Down in League Two, they will often be able to sign the players who’ve not quite made the grade at the Premiership/Championship academies, and they’ll be grateful to have a living and regular matches. Those nearer the end of their careers can be useful for experience, especially if they’re looking to move toward management.

They’ll also pick up players from non-league teams, especially as the division between the ‘professional’ top-four-divisions world and the ‘amateur’ conference doesn’t really exist. Teams like Burton Albion and Cambridge Utd are as professional as those in League Two, and will negotiate as equal partners if there’s a transfer to be had.

Basically, there’s a lot of people down there, from teenagers through to 40-somethings, playing football for a living, and taking home nothing more than a basic wage.

Well, there WAS a reason I picked it, but I wasn’t going to hijack the thread to explain the ins and outs of the current English football league system. :wink:

Oh, indulge me :slight_smile: (I’m off to bed, so you can talk about rounders all night long)