FanPost

Divisional Realignment by market/payroll.

it's been a long season, lots of ups and downs, and here we are at the end of it, watching the playoffs. I guess I'd like the Brewers to win, at this point, but I want it all to be over so we can get to building a better team for 2019. Honestly, though? Nothing about this offseason excites me. There's no perfect move to be made, that I can see. Harper/Machado will eat a lot of payroll space, and after the Holliday deal, I feel like we're due for a long-term free agent deal that becomes an albatross. Donaldson was a great fit last year, but now he'll be 33 with (more) questionable health. I just feel like we're headed toward a mistake. So my mind has drifted away from the rosterbation.

Here's one thing I'd like to see: Divisional Realignment. Ever since the Astros moved from the NL Central to the AL West, things have been symmetrical, and I like that. But I think there's another problem realignment could solve: Payroll inequality. I doubt we will ever see a salary cap in baseball. The luxury tax has functioned as a soft cap, there's revenue sharing, and I personally agree that most all teams *could* spend more, even when they cry poverty. But still you have the AL East champion Red Sox spending triple what the Rays did. It's not Boston's fault that the Rays can't afford a David Price or a J.D. Martinez every now and then, but it's not entirely Tampa's fault, either. So what else can be done?

Before I go any further, I should set a standard for what I consider a large market vs small, and a large payroll vs small, to make it as scientific as possible. I pulled the "market size" directly from the CBA. Seems neutral enough, to me, and passes the eye test. But some teams consistently blow their market size out of the water in terms of payroll- the Cardinals chief among them. The CBA probably doesn't adequately account for Cardinal Nation. They have the 5th-lowest score at 57(scaled to 100) and yet attendance is generally good and payroll is consistently above-average, usually in the top third. New York, by contrast, is the largest at 235. To even this out, or at least give some weight to both sides, I simply averaged the two: the CBA score(already scaled to 100) and average payroll over the last decade(as a % of the average payroll). Here's what it looks like:

AL WEST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average AL CENTRAL CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average AL EAST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average
Los Angeles Angels 178 181 180 Chicago White Sox 124 88 106 Boston Red Sox 101 155 128
Seattle Mariners 81 98 90 Minnesota Twins 76 85 81 New York Yankees 235 179 207
Texas Rangers 101 116 109 Cleveland Indians 64 77 71 Toronto Blue Jays 119 108 114
Oakland Athletics 108 63 86 Detroit Tigers 74 125 100 Baltimore Orioles 70 97 84
Houston Astros 93 71 82 Kansas City Royals 53 83 68 Tampa Bay Rays 72 56 64












NL WEST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average NL CENTRAL CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average NL EAST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average
Los Angeles Dodgers 178 177 178 Chicago Cubs 124 114 119 Washington Nationals 113 111 112
San Francisco Giants 108 135 122 St. Louis Cardinals 57 109 83 Atlanta Braves 96 88 92
Arizona Diamondbacks 72 77 75 Cincinnati Reds 51 80 66 Philadelphia Phillies 111 121 116
Colorado Rockies 70 85 78 Milwaukee Brewers 52 77 65 New York Mets 235 103 169
San Diego Padres 60 64 62 Pittsburgh Pirates 56 65 61 Miami Marlins 69 60 65

Is this method of organizing teams fair? I don't know, but to me it passes the eye test. The teams that are obviously on top are there and likewise the teams on the bottom. I simply wanted a standard by which to organize them, because I simply want to take each region and sort them, largest score to smallest. That gives you something like this:

AL WEST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average AL CENTRAL CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average AL EAST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average
Los Angeles Angels 178 181 180 Chicago Cubs 124 114 119 New York Yankees 235 179 207
Los Angeles Dodgers 178 177 178 Chicago White Sox 124 88 106 New York Mets 235 103 169
San Francisco Giants 108 135 122 Detroit Tigers 74 125 100 Boston Red Sox 101 155 128
Texas Rangers 101 116 109 St. Louis Cardinals 57 109 83 Philadelphia Phillies 111 121 116
Seattle Mariners 81 98 90 Minnesota Twins 76 85 81 Toronto Blue Jays 119 108 114












NL WEST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average NL CENTRAL CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average NL EAST CBA
Market
Score
Ave 10yr
Payroll/100
Average
Oakland Athletics 108 63 86 Cleveland Indians 64 77 71 Washington Nationals 113 111 112
Houston Astros 93 71 82 Kansas City Royals 53 83 68 Atlanta Braves 96 88 92
Colorado Rockies 70 85 78 Cincinnati Reds 51 80 66 Baltimore Orioles 70 97 84
Arizona Diamondbacks 72 77 75 Milwaukee Brewers 52 77 65 Miami Marlins 69 60 65
San Diego Padres 60 64 62 Pittsburgh Pirates 56 65 61 Tampa Bay Rays 72 56 64

What if the Rays' competition for their division was four other teams that hover around league average in terms of payroll? What if, when a team beat out the Athletics for the West, it was less about spending more money and more about doing better with similar resources?

Won't teams like the Dodgers and Yankees complain?

Maybe, but why? It's not as if the teams in the top half are all consistently good and the teams on the bottom all consistently bad. I don't know that they would say they deserve to have bottom-feeder teams in their division, but it's not as if the Phillies and Rangers have been threats the last few years.

Don't you still have payroll inequality in the playoffs?

Well, yes, but anything can happen in a short series. The Yankees knocking out the Athletics with a payroll $100M lower than theirs this year may have contributed to me thinking along these lines, but the fact remains that the margins were very tight, even if they'd both played to their payrolls during the regular season instead of only being 3 wins apart.

What about the Astros? If not for tanking, they might be in the top 5 West teams, with Seattle in the bottom.

Sure, but it's close anyway. Washington and Toronto are close, as well. I'm fine if one or two teams get "shafted." Again, I will note that we are not necessarily giving a leg up to franchises that have been typically bad, or punishing franchises that have been typically good. The Rays, Athletics, Indians, Royals, Orioles, etc. have all had a fair amount of success in the last several seasons. This year's "NL Central" would have been a fascinating race between the Indians and Brewers, ditto the Rays and Braves in the "NL East." If the Indians won the "Poor Man's Central", it doesn't seem to me like they're actually winning an easier division than the one with the Tigers and White Sox in it. Divisions, in terms of who is in the AL and who is in the NL, are mostly arbitrary to begin with. So are teams' ability to spend a ton in free agency. Well, not arbitrary, but certainly not reflective of a front office's ability to run a franchise. Why not let both of them work to cancel each other out?

What would you all think?