MLB Salaries – May the Poorest Team Win

I was asked by a friend before this MLB Championship round started which 2 teams I was rooting for among the 4 remaining teams.  When I responded the Astros and the Braves my questioner wanted to know why them.   (This person was a Nationals’ fan and wondered why I would not be pulling for the Dodgers who have former Nats’ Scherzer and Turner on their team.) 

I then explained to my friend how I have a simple formula for picking among teams that I don’t really care about one way or the other.  (A quick clarification here – the Red Sox don’t really need to be in my formula because I never root for them anyway even when they play the Yankees.  And rooting for the Yankees is something that I never thought I would be admitting  to.)   

Back to my formula, it is one that my Grandfather Harry Raley first laid on me as to why we never root for the Yankees.  It has to do with money.  Harry said we should always root for the cheaper team(s.)   By cheaper, he meant the teams that have the lower overall payroll salaries.  

Here then, check out the top team salary rankings for the 2021 season and you will see that all 4 current playoff teams are in the top 13:

MLB Payroll 2000 – 2021 – Fueled by Sports

At the bottom of the team salaries rankings are the Orioles and the Pirates.  Anyone surprised that they were also 2 of the 3 worst teams in baseball this year?  (The Arizona Diamondbacks were officially tied with the Orioles as the worst team in baseball this year, but surprisingly the D’backs’ total team payroll was ranked 19th overall.  I think a bunch of injuries may explain that anomaly, but I’m not real sure.  (For a related and funny article on the D’backs’ problems this year click here.)   Here then are the salary totals for the 4 cheapest teams.

When you look at individual player salaries, you will see that there are 14 players (4 of whom play for the Dodgers, 2 for the Astros and 1 for the Red Sox) who each make more money than the entire Pirate payroll:

Who are the highest-paid MLB players in 2021? (

Note that I got these charts from 2 different sources which explains why the Pirates team salary totals differ on each chart.  If I weren’t so lazy, I would try and reconcile that discrepancy but you get the overall drift of what I’m trying to point out here – the Pirates didn’t spend a lot of their money on payroll!.   
Back to my baseball friend questioner, he followed up by asking me how I could root for the Astros given their history of cheating.  I resisted turning the comment on him as to how could he root for the Red Sox when it was their manager who was coaching the Astros and doing all that cheating in the first place?  (Note that the Sox manager Alex Cora was even punished last year by having to sit out a whole year for his role in the cheating scandal (click here for article on Sox vs. Stros)  

Instead, I simply replied to my friend “Dusty.  You got to root for Dusty.”  My friend pointed out that my formula would then only work if the Astros played the Dodgers in the World Series.  He asked me “Who you got if it’s the Braves and the Astros?”  I told him I’d have to wait and see.  (For you non-baseball fans, Dusty is Dusty Baker the Astros manager, who has been a baseball lifer but has always come up short in the post season (click here.)

The series moves back to Houston tomorrow night where Dusty and his guys have 2 shots at winning 1 game to make it to the World Series.  It’s about time for the Baseball Gods to smile on him don’t you think?   Go Stros!
Always liked this catchy Deano tune written by Lee Hazelwood if nothing else because of its humorous lyrics.  Supposedly, the percussion sound at the song’s beginning and end is a spoon tapping on a Coke bottle.  At last, an instrument that even I can play!

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