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Home Maury Brown Analysis: 2011 MLB Playoff Teams By Player Payroll

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Analysis: 2011 MLB Playoff Teams By Player Payroll PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 29 September 2011 15:16

Baseball is broken. That’s what they say. It’s only teams with high payrolls that have a shot. Well…

With heart-stopping excitement that the baseball gods gave us on the final day of the 2011 MLB season now in the books, the postseason is now set. They all may be making the playoffs, but their payrolls are as far and wide as one can imagine.

Based on Opening Day payroll data from USA Today*, the eight teams that begin postseason play as early as Friday have a near perfect payroll ranking average of 13.5 out of 30. To no one’s surprise, the Yankees at #1 smash all comers in terms of total payroll at $202,689,028 or $29,712,649 more than the second ranked Phillies who come in at $172,976,379.

But the story this year is really about the Rays who lost Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate, Dan Wheeler, and Rafeal Soriano during the off-season, a causality of mounting payroll. Entering the 2011 season, the Rays ranked 29th out of 30 clubs in total payroll. Only the Royals had lower. They are the only playoff team with a median payroll below $1 million ($907,750), which is more than half what the Yankees see ($2,100,000).

So, while the playoffs are bookended with the highest and almost lowest player payrolls, there’s a good mix in-between.

There are three teams in the Top 10 (Yankees, Phillies, Tigers), three teams between 11-20 (Cardinals, Rangers, Brewers), and two in the lower third (D-Backs, Rays).

But, while it looks like a fairly even spread, and anything can happen in the postseason, the teams that are seen to have the best shot at the World Series Championship are in the Top 3 in payroll (Phillies at #2, Tigers at #3, with the Yankees an outside shot with the league’s highest payroll).

Here’s how it shakes out:








New York Yankees






Philadelphia Phillies






Detroit Tigers






St. Louis Cardinals






Texas Rangers






Milwaukee Brewers






Arizona D-Backs






Tampa Bay Rays





* USA TODAY's baseball salaries database contains year-by-year listings of salaries for Major League Baseball players on opening day rosters and disabled lists. Figures, compiled by USA TODAY, are based on documents obtained from the MLB Players Association, club officials and filed with Major League Baseball's central office. Deferred payments and incentive clauses are not included. Team payrolls do not include money paid or received in trades or for players who have been released. Average and median salaries reported by USA TODAY may differ from numbers that are reported elsewhere. 

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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