Does money really buy World Series titles?

Teams that spend the most money don't always win the World Series. Photo: Dodgers Ownership Group members: Left to right, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, and Magic Johnson

LOS ANGELES, February 1, 2013 — The Los Angeles Dodgers are projected to have a payroll upwards of $230 million for the 2013 season. This astonishing number is more than double their payroll of $93.6 million in 2012, which ranked 13th in Major League Baseball.

Not only will the Dodgers have the highest payroll in the majors this season, but they will also have the highest payroll in the history of the game. The Yankees never even spent that much under George Steinbrenner. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, outspending the rest of the league does not equate to World Series titles every year, but it definitely helps.

Let’s take a look at the last 18 World Series winners and where they rank in the majors in total player payroll. Teams in the top five have won the World Series eight times. Twelve teams ranked in the top 10 have been the winners of the fall classic.

Boston Red Sox World Series trophy

Seventeen of the last 18 World Series winners have had a payroll in the top 15. In the last 18 years, only one team has been able to win the World Series without being ranked in the top 15 for payroll. That team was the 1997 Florida Marlins. They ranked 25th out of 28 teams.

Now, let’s see where the loser of the World Series ranked in payroll over the last 18 years. Six teams were ranked in the top five. Eleven of the last 18 losers have been ranked in the top 10 for player payroll.

Fifteen of the losing teams were ranked in the top 15 in baseball. Only three teams ranked outside of the top 15 in player salary have managed to make it to the World Series and then lose.

The 2010 Texas Rangers were ranked 27th when they lost to the San Francisco Giants who ranked 10th. In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays were ranked 29th out of 30 teams. They lost to the twelfth ranked Philadelphia Phillies. Finally, the 2007 Colorado Rockies were the ranked 25th and lost to the Boston Red Sox, who ranked second in player payroll.

In the last 18 years of World Series, the team with the highest player payroll has won four times, all of them have been the New York Yankees. They did it in 1996, 1999, 2000, and 2009. The second ranked teams in player payroll have won the World Series three times in the last 18 years: the New York Yankees in 1998 and the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2004.

The team with the highest payroll has lost in the World Series two times in the last 18 years. Both times it was the Yankees in 2003 and 2001. Never in the last 18 years has a team ranked second in player payroll made it to the World Series and lost.

However, three times the loser of the World Series was ranked third in player payroll. The Cleveland Indians, in 1997, lost to the 25th ranked Florida Marlins. The Atlanta Braves did it twice in 1999 and 1996. The Braves were ranked fourth in 1995 when they won the World Series.

If you can afford to be the team with the highest payroll, do it.  Do it now and don’t look back. The ink is still drying on the Dodgers’ new television contract with Time Warner and they can definitely afford their new payroll. The deal, if approved by Major League Baseball, will give them about $280 million per year for the next 25 years. If they win the World Series just once it makes it all worth it. If they never win, at least the fans know it was not for a lack of effort.

Yankees celebrate 2009 World Series win

By no means does a high payroll guarantee anything as far as winning World Series titles. It does, however, get your foot in the door. There are many factors that come into play when winning the World Series. Teams getting hot at the end of the season is one such factor. 

The St. Louis Cardinals, in 2011, got hot in September and went from dead team walking to World Series champion. Just as important as teams getting hot are teams that turn ice cold at the wrong time.

Again in 2011, the Boston Red Sox seemed to be a lock for the playoffs and poised to make a solid run at the World Series in August. They ended the season by losing 18 of their last 24 games and played themselves out of even making the playoffs.

In baseball, luck, both good and bad, is almost as important as talent. Just ask the 1997 Florida Marlins or the 1997 Cleveland Indians, for that matter.

Kevin Wells writes about Major League Baseball.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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