With the Midsummer Classic now behind us and the regular season kicking back up on Thursday, the next big focus for teams is the August 2 Trade Deadline.
Baseball betting will continue to go into overdrive as we slowly creep towards the postseason, but with clubs looking to bolster their rosters over the next few weeks, how much does team payroll affect MLB playoff odds?
The average total payroll across all MLB teams in 2022 is $147,873,965. The New York Yankees, the current favorites to win it all with World Series odds of +325, have a payroll of $250,828,357, which is 69.6% higher than the average. Just behind the Yankees with odds of +375 are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who top the league with the highest payroll of $260,923,503, 76.4% higher than the league average.
From these numbers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that high payroll definitively results in success, but alas, we’ve stumbled upon a logical fallacy, as correlation does not equal causation.
Paying out high salaries across the board being the answer to regular season or playoff success requires each player’s value to be determined solely by how much they’re paid, and we know that’s not always true.
In 2021, pitcher Dallas Keuchel pocketed $18.5 million with the White Sox despite an underwhelming ERA of 5.28, and Justin Upton of the Angels made $23 million despite a batting average that barely cleared the Mendoza Line. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made just $605,400 for the same season, even though he slashed .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs and was named the youngest ever All-Star Game MVP.
#PLAKATA number 20 💥 pic.twitter.com/bQRP5aylAi
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 14, 2022
While it’s true that a lot of good players are paid the high salaries they deserve, which can show a correlation between big spending and regular-season success, a team’s achievements are defined by a lot more than payroll. Team strategy, cohesiveness, management, coaching, conditioning, and training, as well as a variety of other factors, all arguably hold far more weight when predicting a club’s record or success.
Having said that, MLB’s lack of a fixed salary cap will mean that money will always influence, if not define, which teams can acquire top players. So, who is paying out the most in 2022?
MLB Teams With Highest Payrolls in 2022
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers||$260,923,503|
|2||New York Mets||$259,080,090|
|3||New York Yankees||$250,828,357|
|5||San Diego Padres||$217,618,791|
|6||Boston Red Sox||$203,392,180|
|7||Chicago White Sox||$195,623,522|
|8||Los Angeles Angels||$190,244,310|
|11||Toronto Blue Jays||$171,322,894|
|12||St. Louis Cardinals||$159,395,456|
|13||San Francisco Giants||$157,928,467|
|23||Kansas City Royals||$97,836,851|
|24||Tampa Bay Rays||$88,171,148|
Top 3 Highest Payrolls In MLB
Los Angeles Dodgers – $260,923,503
Ah yes, the Dodgers and their salaries. The team has the highest MLB payroll this season, just as they did last season when they paid out a ginormous $266,020,809. They also held the second-highest payroll in the shortened 2020 season when they took home the World Series.
The 2022 Dodgers are currently 60-30 on the season, leading the NL West with odds of +160 to win their league. Should the team maintain their .667 winnings percentage to advance to the playoffs, this will be the second year in a row they’ve played into October.
Freddie Freeman – Los Angeles Dodgers (11) pic.twitter.com/1LmvooaM2K
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 10, 2022
New York Mets – $259,080,090
In years gone by, I’d have argued that there is no better example of how spending money doesn’t equal success than the New York Mets, but the team seems to have turned a corner in 2022. With a payroll of nearly $260 million this season (75.2% higher than the league average), the Mets’ record is 58-35 as of the All-Star Break, putting them in first place in the NL East.
It is important to note that the Mets’ success so far in 2022 seems to be the exception rather than the rule for the franchise. In 2021, they had the third-highest payroll at $201,189,189 but a regular-season record of just 77-85, and in the shortened 2020 season, the team was the sixth highest in the league in payroll at $81,945,598 but finished in last place in the NL East with a regular-season record of 26-34. Neither year did they make the postseason.
New York Yankees – $250,828,357
From Aaron Judge to Nestor Cortes and seemingly everyone in between, the 2022 Yankees’ roster is stacked with champions. They are even contenders to be the best team in franchise history, if not the entire league, so it isn’t shocking that their payroll would be in the top three highest this season.
The Yankees are 64-28 on the season as of the All-Star Break, with an incredible run differential of +199. Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ fourth highest-paid player at $19 million for the season, has already hit 33 home runs before the Break, tying Roger Maris (1961) for the most in Yankees history.
While spending money may not always equal success, the Yankees’ high payroll this season seems to be paying off.
444 ft for Homer No. 33 👨⚖️#AllRise pic.twitter.com/aF4sJXrWtg
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 17, 2022
Lowest Payroll in MLB
Baltimore Orioles – $45,825,087
The Orioles are well-known for their inability or reluctance to spend big on payroll, with their total this year falling 69% under the league average. Considering that’s over $215 million less than the total payroll of the Dodgers, you’d expect Baltimore to be playing a lot worse than they actually are.
The Orioles are 46-46 on the season as of the All-Star Break, surpassing the records of the Angels, Cubs, Rangers, Rockies, Tigers, Nationals, Reds, Royals, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Pirates, and Athletics, all of whom have substantially higher payrolls. Even though they are currently in last place in the AL East, a notoriously competitive division, the Orioles are only in sixth place for three wild card slots to the postseason. With almost half a season remaining, anything can happen.
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