Inspired by this quote in another thread, every year, people point to the small market teams in the playoffs as if to support that $ doesn’t mean not competitive. I have always felt that a low payroll team may make a playoff run one year but they don’t have the consistency to get to the playoff multiple years and thus are not competitive over the long term.
I would also point out that the statement
If a team is consistently in the playoffs then it is a high payroll team.
is not equivalent to the converse
If a team is a high payroll team then it is consistently in the playoffs.
So pointing out that the Mets have been in the top 5 in MLB payroll the last four years yet only made the playoffs once in no way invalidates my hypothesis.
I took the last 4 playoffs divided by league (AL – 14 teams; NL – 16 teams). Because of the way the playoffs qualifications work viz. division winners are an automatic entry then best record of the teams left for the wildcard, each division winner is ranked based on payroll within their own division. Although I include their payroll rank within the league, this number is used in the next step. The wildcard team is denoted with a ‘w’ and their payroll is ranked relative to the rest of the league once the division winners are eliminated. So for example: Phillies (3/5; 7) means they were the third highest payroll in a division of 5 and seventh highest in a league of 16, Rockies (w 9) means they were the wildcard team and their payroll was ninth highest out of the 13 non division-winners.
One last note in an already overly long post – I did not consider $ v. playoff results. Why? Because in short series, management is so crucial and an event like a seventh game in the LCS means that the choice must be made of putting out your ace to win the series or hold them back for game one of the WS. Meanwhile, the future opponent has swept and is resting their team. Also, the playoffs are not seeded and the wildcard team cannot play its own division winner and so you don’t get a true 1 v 4, 2 v 3 sort of bracket.
Angels (1/4; 4) Cubs (1/6; 3)
Red Sox (2/5; 2) Dbacks (5/5; 12)
Yankees (w 1) Rockies (w 9)
Indians (5/5; 14) Phillies (7)
Athletics (4/4, 11) Cardinals (3/6, 7)
Twins (3/5, 10) Padres (3/5, 9)
Yankees (1/5, 1) Dodgers (w 1)
Tigers (w 5) Metropolitans (1/5, 1)
Angels (1/4, 3) Cardinals (1/6, 3)
Red Sox (w 1) Padres (3/5, 9)
Yankees (1/5, 1) Astros (w 6)
White Sox (1/5, 5) Braves (3/5, 6)
Angels (1/4, 3) Cardinals (2/6, 7)
Red Sox (w 1) Dodgers (1/5, 4)
Yankees (1/5, 1) Astros (w, 5)
Twins (2/5, 8) Braves (3/5, 5)
Multiple playoff teams: Yankees (4); Red Sox (3), Angels (3), Cardinals (3), Twins (2), Padres (2), Dodgers (2), Astros (2), Braves (2)
I’ll come back and post my conclusions later. For now, what do you think? Based on the numbers, does payroll affect long-term competitiveness?