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Must-click link: Is it easier to buy wins today than it used to be?

Feb 7, 2012, 4:45 PM EDT

stack of money

We all know the story: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and, with the exception of some lucky-as-hell teams like the Moneyball Athletics and the Extra 2% Rays, having a big payroll is the most important thing in all of baseball.

But is it really that bad?

Not so says Dave Studeman of The Hardball Times.  He has a fantastic, in-depth article up today tracking how well money correlates with wins over time. And the conclusion may surprise you:

The current state of the game? Despite the outrageous spending ways of the Yankees, it’s settled into a pattern that is more competitive than any previous time period, other than the years of collusion.

Don’t believe it? Go look. Dave’s got graphs and everything. Because that what he does.

  1. hammyofdoom - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    You know, I had a sneaking suspicion that baseball wasn’t as top heavy as some people had believed. The past 10 World Series Winners: Yankees 2 in a row, then Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red then White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees, Giants, Cardinals. Meanwhile, look at the 70s… Orioles, Pirates, Athletics 3 in a row, Reds 2 in a row, Yankees in a row, then Pirates again. Teams with small payrolls will keep winning until teams like the Red Sox and yankees stop giving 80+ million dollars to the Burnetts and Lackeys of the world

  2. bigleagues - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    I do believe it. I have even confessed that MLB parity is one of the good accomplishments under Selig and I think the new labor deal could further enhance that with the establishment of payroll minimum.

    Most of the bottom teams are there, not exclusively because of revenue disparity, but largely because of poor decision making and leadership.

    For all its Socialism, and perhaps more so than any other major team sport . . . Capitalism still has a place in MLB.

    • florida76 - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:33 PM

      Dave Studeman’s graphs just fail to capture the heart of the issue. No one has ever suggested revenue disparity is the sole reason for teams struggling to compete, but it’s reality of the issue. As we’ve seen countless teams, even small market teams with great decision making skills only have a small window of opportunity for serious contention. And that’s wrong.

      Studeman data also fails to take into the account of the linkage between gaps in revenue and popularity of the sport. The opportunity of long term serious contention is definitely the gold standard, and is something the NFL has understood for decades. People love to talk about parity while the last two decades of World Series TV ratings have been poor, even with the Yankees involved.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:51 PM

        Yeah, the heart of the issue is that money still buys wins. But it buys fewer wins than it used to. So that’s good, at least.

        I’m not sure what Studeman was supposed to prove about the popularity of the sport. The fact that there’s more parity than there used to be is a good thing, and I don’t really care if more people watch football.

  3. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Having different champions isn’t really a sign of parity to me. All that says to me is that once a team gets to the playoffs it is anybodys game. We have the wildcard to thank for that. The fact is its still the same teams that are making the playoffs on a regular basis. The big money teams will always have the advantage. Revenue sharing has closed the gap for the teams that use it correctly but it will never be an even playing field.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:48 PM

      Not sure if you’re replying to a commenter above or the article, but the article is about regular season wins. If spending money doesn’t guarantee you as many wins as it used to, that’s a good thing.

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