Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles World Series: How much does a team’s budget really matter?

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Ryan Ertlschweiger, Staff Writer

The 2020 World Series has come and gone, with the Los Angeles Dodgers claiming the title, and ending their title drought. The teams both put up a great fight, and it was an exciting and entertaining series to watch. These teams are similar, in that they both have great pitching rotations, and their lineups hit very well from top to bottom. There is no arguing that these teams don’t deserve to be here, but one thing is very different about these two teams: their team’s annual budget. 

 

As of August 1st, 2020, the Los Angeles Dodgers had an annual payroll of $95.6 million, giving them the largest payroll in the entire MLB. The Tampa Bay Rays on the other hand, had a measly payroll of $28.9 million, giving them the 3rd lowest payroll in the entire league. Tampa Bay has shown how little money can mean in the game of baseball, by previously beating the New York Yankees ($83.7 million) in the ALDS, and the Houston Astros (81.4 million) in the NLCS, in route to their World Series title. These statistics really put into question whether or not spending more money on players is beneficial in the long run, which some are calling the “Moneyball” strategy, based off of a baseball movie of how the Oakland Athletics made great playoff runs with a low payroll in the early ‘90s.

 

 In most sports, a singular player can make enough of a difference to win or lose a season for a team. This is not the case in baseball though, because with 162 games in the regular season, the team needs to be well rounded and have a variety of different attributes throughout a variety of positions, which is why the Rays have been so successful despite their low payroll.

 

Tampa’s lineup consists of young studs who can play the game with ease, and we’ve come to find, can play even in the clutchest of situations. Their lineup is also filled with veterans, some that may not be household names, but older guys who can teach the younger ones the ins and outs of the game and teach them the things they’ve learned. Diversity throughout a baseball team wins championships, and this was proven last year as well, by the Washington Nationals. The team had young players like Soto, Turner, and Rendon, while also having older and experienced players like Zimmerman, Kendrick, and Eaton. The Nationals and the Rays aren’t listed as power houses of the MLB, but they do have one thing in common, and that is that they play well as a team and have enough diversity to keep the wheels spinning.

 

While the answer to the question of how big of an impact team’s annual payroll actually has on that particular team’s success isn’t written in stone, most of the time a team’s ability to have money and recruit top prospects helps them create a strong team. However, in some cases, especially in the sport of baseball, it all comes down to how the team functions together, not individually. The Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox all consistently have the top payrolls in the league, and yet that doesn’t mean that one of them wins the World Series every year. As a matter of fact, the Dodger’s haven’t won a world series since 1988, the Yankees since 2009, and the Red Sox just recently won in 2018. Payroll definitely has an effect, but in the grand scheme of things, at least in baseball, it all comes from how a team works together and how competitively a team can push each other.

Edit: 10/30/20

It has now been one week since writing this article and the Dodgers were able to win the World Series in Game 6, defeating the Rays 4-2 in the series. While this series showed just how much better the dodgers were than the Rays, it doesn’t mean the Rays didn’t have a chance. Kevin Cash, the Rays Manager, made some very questionable decisions on the field during the series, and some fans believe this may have cost them the series. While small-ball baseball on a low payroll can be fun and sometimes even successful, at the end of the day the game is unpredictable, no matter how many computers or statistics you think are reliable.