The Cleveland Guardians are winning despite a big payroll.
There’s a misconception that you need a big payroll to win in baseball. You don’t, you just need a good scouting and development department. The Cleveland Guardians are currently 65-56 and just knocked off the San Diego Padres who are 68-57. The Guardians payroll is $66 million, while the Padres are at $218 million.
Are the Padres $152 million better than the Guardians? Not according to the 3-1 score on Tuesday night they’re not.
Currently, the top seven best records in the Majors belong to teams in the Top 12 of spending, the Dodgers, Astros Mets, Braves, Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies are all in the Top 12 in spending at sit in the Top 7 in the Majors. So, clearly, if you know who to spend your money on you’ll do well.
Yet, after them, you have Tampa Bay (No. 8 in the standings/No. 23 in spending), The Mariners (10/22), and the Guardians (12/26). All three of those teams are expected to make the playoffs and do so on shoestring budgets. Why? Because they know money doesn’t guarantee you, quality players, just very well-known ones.
Cleveland Guardians proving money isn’t everything
When you look at teams like the White Sox and Red Sox, you really get the picture that you can’t live and die by massive contracts. A lot of the teams at the top of the conversations are not frequent or consistent playoff teams, either. The Phillies, Mets, Cubs, and Padres didn’t make the playoffs last year, and most of those teams didn’t make it in 2019 either. Yet, they have had huge payrolls for years.
The Guardians get lambasted for the way they build their team but it works. So much so that the Rays do something similar, and are on the verge of their fourth straight playoff appearances. Despite the Yankees having a huge payroll in comparison, the Rays have won the AL East the last two years.
So clearly the amount you put into a payroll doesn’t automatically make you a good team, something real Guardian fans have long known. It’s better to keep your payroll unburdened by “big names” who don’t produce “big stats” because you’ll have to pay for them long past their expiration date.
Just look at the Angels, they’re 10 in spending and have what, two playoff appearances in the Mike Trout era? Heck, they have nearly $50 million worth of players on the injured list. Clearly just throwing money at superstars isn’t how you win.
Hopefully, the fans in Cleveland realize this and stop using it as a reason to attack the Dolans. Their job is to make sure this team competes. They do their job. Who cares if the team trades away guys every once in a while?
Isn’t the name on the front more important than the name on the back?