Phillies’ Emergence Threatens World Series Chances of Low-Budget Teams

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Can a low-budget team win the World Series? The answer is a qualified yes.

But it appears to have gotten harder just within the past year or two. That’s because historically it has been easier to do so from one of the two leagues than the other.

Who are the high-budget teams? I drew the line at a payroll of $100 million for this year.

Start with the two New York teams, the two Chicago teams, and the two Los Angeles teams. Then add Boston, Detroit, and Seattle in the American League, and Philadelphia and Houston in the National League.

In the American League, if you said that three of the four contenders will be Los Angeles, New York, and Boston, you’d be right most years. Only the American League Central has any real competition, with all but Kansas City having won the division within the past five years.

Who were the low-budget World Series winners? The St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. The Florida Marlins in 2003. The Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. All National League teams.

There was almost an exception to the rule in 2008 when the low budget Tampa Bay Rays won the American League pennant, only to to be defeated by the high budget Phillies from the National League for the World Series.

Why this is so can be seen from the following matchups: New York Yankees and New York Mets. The Yankees have gotten to the postseason in all but one of the past 14 years, with the Mets, only occasionally, leaving room for others in the National League East.

The Los Angeles Angles vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. They both tend to get to the postseason, but the Angels tend to go further.

The Chicago White Sox vs. the Chicago Cubs. The White Sox are a credible postseason threat, the Cubs aren’t.

Consider Detroit (and Minnesota) possible alternatives to the White Sox. Cleveland has lost its “teeth” with the departures of CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee.

Boston is a counterweight to the New York Yankees on the east coast in the American League, and Philadelphia is more than a match for the New York Mets in the National League.

On the other hand, Houston’s and Seattle’s postseason chances are basically no better than those of other teams with lower payrolls.

The National League West is quite competitive, with every team except the San Francisco Giants (who won the pennant in 2002) having won a division title in the past five years.

The National League Central is less competitive over the same period, with the Cardinals and the Cubs monopolizing the division title (although the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers have won wild cards).

In the National League East, the Philadelphia Phillies, after having won second-place spots behind the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets in 2005-06, won three division titles in a row plus two pennants (and one of the two World Series).

In the past five years, the high-budget Phillies have occupied three slots (out of 10) in pennant races, the high-budget Dodgers two, and the high-budget Astros and Mets, one each. Only the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies, among low-budget teams, have competed for (and won) pennants.

The emergence of the Phillies has changed the picture, at least in the National League East. With the addition of Cliff Lee (and others), they appear to have cemented their status as division winners for some years.

That’s bad news for the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, who have won the division in the past. What’s worse, the East has contributed no wild card contenders in the past five years (although the Florida Marlins were such in 2003).

Moreover, the Phillies, like the New York Yankees, have recently improved their ability to advance to the World Series, meaning that we may see one or more additional Phillies-Yankees Series in the near future.

This may make the National League as uncompetitive for low budget teams as the American League has been.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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