Part of being a small-market baseball fan is the knowledge that from year to year you are less likely to see dramatic improvement in your team. While players in football and basketball can be drafted and make an immediate impact, rarely in baseball does a player show up at a young age an immediately change a team's fortunes.
There are precious few players who fit this category. Some that come to mind are Pete Incaviglia, who went from high school to professional ball, and Mike Trout, who began playing at an MVP level in his rookie season. This kind of windfall is extremely rare, and some teams can have favorable draft status for several years before they can show the benefits on the playing field.
When players finally do identify good talent, coach it so that it is skilled, and prepare it for the majors, they have a small window of time while it gains experience and reaches its full potential. After that window ends it becomes a free agent, and the player is free to leave the franchise that spawned it for any other team that is willing to pay more money.
So under the current system, the more money you spend, the better you get. Baseball is America's Pastime, because it is the perfect expression of labor and capital. Working hard will only get you so far, you need money to carry you the rest of the way. Money won't buy you happiness, but having a system that gets the most out of your players will pay off in wins.
Anyway, I was thinking
I was reading an article about realignment and it occurred to me that the best way to realign the league to make things competitive was to break out the divisions by market. Not by population or marketing dollar value, but by how much money teams spend on their roster. What would the standings look like if the Yankees and Dodgers had to compete directly against each other instead of smothering the Rays and Rockies with their payroll?
It would look something like this (with cost per win):
|1. LA Dodgers||$235,295,219||94||68||$2,503,141|
|5. Detroit Tigers||$162,228,527||90||72||$1,802,539|
|2. NY Yankees||$203,812,506||84||78||$2,426,339|
|3. Philadelphia Phillies||$180,052,723||73||89||$2,466,476|
|4. Boston Red Sox||$162,817,411||71||91||$2,293,203|
|6. LA Angels||$155,692,000||98||64||$1,588,694|
|9. Washington Nationals||$134,704,437||96||66||$1,403,171|
|7. San Francisco Giants||$154,185,878||88||74||$1,752,112|
|10. Toronto Blue Jays||$132,628,700||83||79||$1,597,936|
|8. Texas Rangers||$136,036,172||67||95||$2,030,391|
|15. Baltimore Orioles||$107,406,623||96||66||$1,118,819|
|13. St. Louis Cardinals||$111,020,360||90||72||$1,233,560|
|14. Atlanta Braves||$110,897,341||79||83||$1,403,764|
|12. Cincinnati Reds||$112,390,772||76||86||$1,478,826|
|11. Arizona Diamondbacks||$112,688,666||64||98||$1,760,760|
|19. Kansas City Royals||$92,034,345||89||73||$1,034,094|
|18. Seattle Mariners||$92,081,943||87||75||$1,058,413|
|16. Milwaukee Brewers||$103,844,806||82||80||$1,266,400|
|20. Chicago White Sox||$91,159,254||73||89||$1,248,757|
|17. Colorado Rockies||$95,832,071||66||96||$1,452,001|
|25. Oakland A's||$83,401,400||88||74||$947,743|
|22. NY Mets||$89,051,758||79||83||$1,127,237|
|21. San Diego Padres||$90,094,196||77||85||$1,170,054|
|23. Chicago Cubs||$89,007,857||73||89||$1,219,286|
|24. Minnesota Twins||$85,776,500||70||92||$1,225,379|
|27. Pittsburgh Pirates||$78,111,667||88||74||$887,633|
|26. Cleveland Indians||$82,534,800||85||77||$970,998|
|28. Tampa Bay Rays||$77,062,891||77||85||$1,000,817|
|29. Miami Marlins||$47,565,400||77||85||$617,732|
|30. Houston Astros||$44,544,174||70||92||$636,345|