Can the Royals Win it All?
One big payroll Los Angeles team is done. The Angels, who finished the season with the best record in baseball, were swept aside yesterday by the upstart Kansas City Royals 3-0 in their divisional series. And just in case you haven’t been paying attention, the “other” LA team, the Dodgers, are in a showdown with the seemingly perennial playoff bound Cardinals and tied 1-1. Meanwhile the Baltimore Orioles handily dispatched the Detroit Tigers and their squad of high-priced stars three games to none as well, and the San Francisco Giants are up 2-0 in their best of five with the Washington Nationals.
So my question is can one of the smaller payroll teams, the Kansas City Royals to be exact, actually win it all this year? The Angels payroll for this past season was $154.5 million, which actually pales in comparison to the Dodgers staggering $229.3 million payroll, who over the past couple of seasons have become “Yankees West and then some” in regards to spending (the Yankees were at $197.2 million this year). Let’s compare those numbers to the Royals total of $92.1 million. The Tigers meanwhile had $163.6 million on the books this year, the Giants $149 million, the Nationals $136.8 million, the Cardinals $108 million and the Orioles $107.4 million.
Now I know all these series aren’t over yet, and winning one round in the playoffs isn’t the same as winning the World Series, but how can you not root for the Royals, a team that mustered only one winning season between 1994 and 2012 and hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in 29 years? Not one player managed to hit 20 home runs this year, but they run, steal bases, play defense and win. The ultimate underdog.
We know a team with a small payroll can win to some degree in baseball, especially during the regular season (witness the Athletics), but can a team in the bottom half of payroll actually win big? As in the World Series? Seventeen of the last 18 World Series winners have had a payroll in the top 15, and teams in the top five have won the World Series eight times. That only team to win it all was the 1997 Florida Marlins, 17 years ago. They ranked 25th out of 28 teams.
The Royals are the only team playing October baseball that’s ranked in the bottom half of payroll. The teams still playing ranking’s are the Dodgers (ranked 1st), the Giants (ranked 6th), the Nationals (ranked 7th), the Cardinals (ranked 13th), the Orioles (ranked 14th) and the Royals…. (ranked 18th). So can the Royals win it all this year? I can hope, but history says it’s very doubtful.