Major League Baseball playoffs begin this week, with all of their accompanying fanfare. Lately, fans have gotten accustomed to seeing the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies in the postseason. This year, however, massive payrolls weren’t a prerequisite for making the playoffs. Of the eight MLB teams with $100+ million in player salaries, only two still have a chance to win the World Series.
With a payroll of just $68 million, the Cincinnati Reds and the ghost of former owner Marge Schott are making their first postseason appearance since 1995. The Texas Rangers, fresh out of bankruptcy and rarin’ to go under new co-owner Nolan Ryan, won their division with the fifth-smallest team salary in the league. In the NL West, the San Francisco Giants’ $99 million payroll barely beat out the San Diego Padres’ $38 million team. The Tampa Bay Rays, whose $72 million payroll doesn’t even come close to the $206 million the Yankees spent on players, won the AL East.
Team front offices relish the opportunity to play in the postseason, not just for the chance to be crowned world champions, but also for the extra revenue generated. A single home postseason game can be worth upwards of $2 million to a franchise. So, while some of this year’s playoff teams may have qualified with relatively cheap payrolls, their current success will help increase future salaries.
Excessive spending in baseball doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. It pays to be good.
Here are the 8 MLB playoff teams’ payrolls, along with their payroll rank among baseball’s 30 teams:
Rank Team Payroll
1. New York Yankees $206 million
4. Philadelphia Phillies $142 million
9. San Francisco Giants $ 99 million
10. Minnesota Twins $ 98 million
15. Atlanta Braves $ 84 million
19. Tampa Bay Rays $ 72 million
20. Cincinnati Reds $ 68 million
27. Texas Rangers $ 55 million
Outside of the baseball postseason’s interesting payroll discrepancies, MLB during its final week reported that while the league has passed the mark of 3 billion in total attendance since 1901 – the year the American League joined the older National League – MLB ended the 2010 regular season with a total attendance of just over 73 million, down .5% from last year and the third straight year in decline.
One set of numbers definitely on the upswing: postseason advertising revenues. Both TBS and Fox last week reported that their playoff ad inventory was more than 90% sold, more than double last season’s pace. TBS is charging sponsors such as Capital One and RIM (BlackBerry) $80,000-$90,000 per 30-second spot for divisional series games and $125,000-$150,000 during its ALCS coverage, according to industry sources, while Fox is charging the likes of Budweiser and Chevrolet “between $400,000 and $450,000 for a 30-second World Series spot and up to $225,000 for NLCS spots.”