Can Money Buy The World Series?
Much has been made about this year's World Series champions, the New York Yankees, and their astronomical payroll. Many critics point to the estimated $208 million dollars the Yankees spent in player salaries in 2009, and claim that the Bronx Bombers simply "bought" the World Series championship. While it's true the Yankees far outspent any of their opponents this past season, it's hard to argue with the results: they are baseball's best in 2009. But the Yankees' payroll is a point of contention among baseball fans and writers this season, so we've decided to take a look at this past decade's World Series champions, and analyze whether big bucks were the primary reason for their success.
The New York Yankees
Taking a closer look at this year's Yankees, it's obvious that the Yankee brass was intent on building an immediate winner. Breaking down the season by salary, the Yankees opening day payroll was $201 million, meaning the Bronx Bombers paid approximately $1.5 million per victory this season. The Yankees also began the new millennium as World Series champions, winning the title over the Mets in 2000. That season, the Yanks won 87 games with a combined payroll of $113.3 million, roughly $1.3 million per win. Over the past 10 years, the Yanks have spent approximately $1.5 billion on payroll, easily the most in baseball. That equates to $750 million per championship.
The Boston Red Sox
Tied with New York, with two championships this decade is New York's biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox. After more than eight decades without a championship, the Sox finally vanquished the "Curse of the Bambino", and captured the World Series in 2004. That season, the Sox spent $125 million on a bunch of "idiots", who shocked the baseball world by coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to beat the Yankees, eventually steamrolling the St. Louis Cardinals on their way to the World Series championship. Big Papi, Manny and the Sox repeated the feat in 2007, sweeping the Colorado Rockies to take their second championship in four years, all on a payroll of $143 million. Boston has spent approximately $960 million over the last 10 seasons - roughly $480 million per championship.
The Philadelphia Phillies
Next we have the Philadelphia Phillies, which represented the National League in the last two World Series, falling to the Yankees in 2009, and beating the surprising Tampa Bay Rays last season with a payroll of $98 million. The Phillies have come on strong the past few seasons, winning the NL East the past three years, and seeing their payroll rise substantially the last two. The Phills have not spent nearly as much as the Yankees or Red Sox over the past 10 years, but have managed to build a strong ball club anchored by the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies have spent a total of $706 million over the past decade, winning just the single title and reaching the playoffs in only the past three seasons.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The only West Coast team to win a championship this decade, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did so in 2002, defeating Barry Bonds and the San Fransisco Giants in a thrilling seven-game series. The Angels were a middle-of-the-pack team that season by payroll standards, spending only $61.7 million and surprising many with their victory. Since their championship, the Halos have become one of baseball's biggest spenders, nearly doubling their payroll from their World Series season last year. While the increased spending has made the Angels a consistent playoff team, they have yet to return to the World Series since their win. Having spent $844 million on payroll for the last decade, the Angels have been unable to cash in on more than one championship.
The St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals took home the 2006 World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers in five games with a payroll of $89 million. The Cardinals have managed to maintain a relatively stable payroll over the past 10 years, averaging the 10th highest payroll over that period. Unfortunately for the Cards, they have spent a total of $843 million this decade and have only brought home a single championship.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox broke their own long World Series drought the year after the Red Sox, winning the title in 2005. That year, the "South Siders" spent $75 million on payroll, which looks pretty reasonable compared to some of the other figures we've seen. Since their title, however, the Sox have become one baseball's biggest spenders, ranking in the top five in payroll in three of the past four seasons with little playoff success. These recent years in increased spending have ballooned their 10-year total to $660 million.
The Arizona Diamondbacks
Who could forget the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees? With America still recovering from the devastating attacks of September 11, the D-Backs and Yankees provided sports fans with an unforgettable seven-game championship series, with the Diamondbacks coming out on top. That season, Arizona ranked eighth in the league with a total payroll of $81 million. Since then, however, the Diamondbacks have become one of the thriftier teams in baseball, ranking in the bottom half of the league in payroll since 2005. For their one World Series title this decade, the D-Backs have spent only $497 million, quite low in comparison to others on this list.
The Florida Marlins
Finally, we have the Florida Marlins, one of baseball's cheapest teams. The Marlins have only made the playoffs once in the 2000s, and won the World Series in the process. By defeating the mighty Yankees in six games in the 2003 World Series with a payroll of only $48 million (less than one-third of the Yankees' $148 million payroll that same year), the Marlins prove that it takes more than just money to win it all. Florida has only spent $360 million the entire decade on player salaries, ranking this team 27th in the league in payroll, on average. That said, this team's lack of success outside of 2003 suggests that spending definitely plays a role in a team's long-term success.