Taking a look at this AP graphic detailing 2009 MLB payrolls, the differences are clear. The fun part of looking over something like this is picking out the underachievers and the surprise performers.
The difference between the Detroit Tigers' payroll and the Florida Marlins' total team salary is nearly 102 million dollars. The difference between the Tigers and Marlins in 2009 total wins is 1 (the Marlins has one more win than the Tigers). That is remarkable value from Florida. In fact, the Marlins, with the lowest payroll in MLB, had more wins than 19 teams and the same amount of wins as one other team. 15 of those 19 teams that the Marlins were better than had a payroll that was at least DOUBLE what the Marlins paid their 40 man roster.
At 87 wins, the Marlins finished just 6 games out of the division lead and 5 games back in the wild card standings. Imagine if that team actually spent some money and brought in some help for the existing core of young players. Adding veteran leadership and money to the payroll worked the last time the Marlins tried it in 2003, when they won the World Series.
The Yankees had the highest payroll in the Majors at $220 million. With 103 regular season wins and 11 more in the post season, the Yankees spent about $1.93 million per win. Comparatively, the Marlins spent roughly $431,000 per win. The Phillies' 102 total wins, between regular and post season, along with their $138.3 million payroll comes out to about $1.3 million spent per win. The injury plagued Metropolitans dished out over $2 million for each of their 70 wins.
The Minnesota Twins (87 wins/$73.1 million payroll, 23rd highest team payroll) also achieved considerable success in 2009 by winning their division and going to the playoffs.
While teams like the Marlins and Twins continue to hang around with the big spenders, baseball will stay interesting. When there's no longer any hope for some of the little guys (Pittsburgh and Washington aren't really in the Majors, are they?), maybe some forced salary cap and salary minimum would be necessary. But as some of these teams are able to display, there is still parity in MLB and even the greatest prodigals aren't guaranteed a shot in the post season.
Happy Festivus, everyone!
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