Yankees Outspend A's 9-3 (and $150MM)

The Yankees beat the A's tonight 9-3. A lot of stuff happened, including a lot of shiny home runs. You know the drill. But that's not important.

NOTE: If you're a Yankee fan, this could come across as being whiny. I don't care.

Baseball simply cannot continue like this without a salary cap. This year, the Yankees outspent the next closest team (the Red Sox) by almost $44MM. That margin is more than the San Diego Padres and the Florida Marlins spent on their entire 40-man roster. Competitive imbalance of that magnitude is entirely unheard of in any other organized professional sport in the country.

And yes, I know, the Yankees only won the World Series twice last decade. Doesn't matter. Baseball has a unique statistical masking effect which doesn't happen in any other sport. In baseball the best teams in the league only win around 60% of their games, which comes out to 97 wins. Any other sport? The best team in the NFL usually wins 13 or 14 out of 16 games. The 2007 Patriots went 16-0. If the best football team in the league played a game against an average football team, I'm guessing the better team would win maybe 85% of the time. Basketball? Hockey? Similar results. In baseball? It's more like 65%.

In fact, if we simulate a playoff series, in which a team has a 60% chance of winning any particular game (which is like the Yankees playing a league average team), the stronger team would lose a seven-game series 29% of the time. 29 times out of 100, the Yankees would lose a seven-game set against a league-average team.  A five game set, like the ALDS? 32%. Even if the playoffs were rigged so that it consisted of the 97-game-winning Yankees and a bunch of perfectly league average teams, the Yankees would win the World Series only 34% of the time. But that's baseball.

And that's why we'll never get any change. If baseball didn't work that way, if strong teams enjoyed an NFL-like success rate, where the better team wins 85% of the time, the Yankees would win the World Series 8 or 9 times a decade. People would be beating down Bud Selig's door, clamoring for a salary cap. But it doesn't work that way. So no change. That statistical masking effect makes everything look cheery and dandy, but only on the surface.

In the offseason before the 2009 season, the Yankees spent $423.5MM on three players: Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. That's five million more than the A's have spent on players in the last seven years combined. If Bud Selig didn't start talking about a salary cap after that atrocity of an offseason, we'll never see a cap.

Oh well.

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