From Stark's article:
But in the meantime, this poor sport just can't stop those evil baseball teams with money from buying their way into the playoffs. Or at least that's what you keep telling me.
Well, thanks for your input. Just one minor fact I'd like to mention: That money thing isn't working out so hot anymore.
Did you know that of the nine teams with the highest Opening Day payrolls this year, six of them missed the playoffs?
And did you know that of the teams with the top 12 payrolls, just one (Toronto) won a postseason series?
And did you know that of the teams with the top 15 Opening Day payrolls, none played in the World Series?
From Dave's article:
In 2015, players 30-and-older combined for just +266 WAR; in 1998, that number was +470. The primary effect of the PED-era can be seen rather easily in the huge mid-90s spike on that graph, and the recession of that spike since the league took action to curb chemically-aided longevity. While most of the talk about the change in the game has revolved around the decrease in run scoring, the bigger change has been in the demographic shift, with ineffective veterans being swapped out en masse in favor of better, younger talent.
The two articles go hand-in-hand. Why is baseball in the midst of maybe its greatest era of parity than we've seen? In large part because, as Dave wrote, "It's a young man’s game now." The younger talent skews, the more likely that small-market teams like the Royals and Pirates can compete on a consistent basis. Younger talent is cheaper, and teams control players through the first six years of their major-league service. By the time they hit free agency, they're older. In the steroids era, older players continued performing at a high level. They were expensive but less risky. Now veteran talent is still expensive but more risky. That levels the playing field to a large degree.
There are other factors as well that created this parity: Front offices across the game are much smarter; there's so much money in the sport that even small-market teams like the Royals can afford to re-sign Alex Gordon, or a team like the Diamondbacks can outbid the Dodgers for Zack Greinke; certainly, some of the revenue-sharing has helped.
But it's mostly about the youth of the players. This doesn't mean every team is playing the same game: The A's or Rays won't be bidding on Bryce Harper when he's a free agent in a few years. But it helps. So if your team didn't sign that expensive free agent this offseason, don't sweat it too much: Maybe it's a good thing they didn't.