FanPost

AL Payrolls and Postseason Appearances


This post could be subtitled “How the Yankees skew data”.

I looked at National League payrolls and postseason appearance here. Now it’s time to do the same for the American League.

As a reminder, I am using End-of-Year payroll data, and I sorted the division winners by their payroll within the division. On the first chart you will see “Yankees” and #1 a lot. That does not mean I like the Yankees. That means the Yankees won their division and had the highest payroll of teams in their division.

Yes, Martha, championships can be bought.

AL EAST

Year

Payroll Rank

Team

1999

1

Yankees

2000

1

Yankees

2001

1

Yankees

2002

1

Yankees

2003

1

Yankees

2004

1

Yankees

2005

1

Yankees

2006

1

Yankees

2007

2

Red Sox

2008

5

Rays

2009

1

Yankees

2010

4

Rays

2011

1

Yankees


Al Central

Year

Payroll Rank

Team

1999

1

Indians

2000

3

White Sox

2001

1

Indians

2002

5

Twins

2003

2

Twins

2004

3

Twins

2005

1

White Sox

2006

3

Twins

2007

4

Indians

2008

2

White Sox

2009

5

Twins

2010

3

Twins

2011

3

Tigers

AL WEST

Year

Payroll Rank

Team

1999

1

Rangers

2000

4

Athletics

2001

2

Mariners

2002

4

Athletics

2003

4

Athletics

2004

1

Angels

2005

1

Angels

2006

4

Athletics

2007

2

Angels

2008

1

Angels

2009

1

Angels

2010

3

Rangers

2011

2

Rangers

Eighteen of the top spenders took home the division, for a batting average of .461 – Gehrig, eat your heart out. Add in the second highest spender, and the percentage goes up to 61.5%, which is close to the National League for the top two spenders in each division.

Fans of the Royals can take some solace in the knowledge that the AL Central goes against the grain more than any other division in baseball. Only five of the division winners in the 13 years tracked by this study were top spenders.

The Wild Card race offers less hope to Royals fans than the National League Wild Card race.

AL WILD CARD

Year

Payroll Rank

Team

1999

2

Red Sox

2000

5

Mariners

2001

8

Athletics

2002

5

Angels

2003

2

Red Sox

2004

1

Red Sox

2005

1

Red Sox

2006

5

Tigers

2007

1

Yankees

2008

2

Red Sox

2009

1

Red Sox

2010

1

Yankees

2011

9

Rays

Eight of the 13 Wild Card winners were top spenders (remember, the division winners have been removed from consideration for this portion of the study). Winners gonna win.

My conclusions:

1. It is not impossible for a cheap team like the Royals to make the playoffs, but the deck is stacked against them. Look to the Athletics, Rays, and Twins for examples of how it can be done.

2. It’s better to win the division, because the Wild Card race is also filled with big market teams. Only once in the past 13 years did a team from the AL Central win the Wild Card, and that was the mid-market Tigers.

3. As a group, AL Central teams appear to be poorly managed when compared to other divisions. The top spenders don’t make the playoffs as often as other divisions.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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