Baseball doesn't have a competitive balance problem, you have a perception problem

Rational Pastime has some interesting, albeit unsurprising, information about MLB’s perceived competitive balance problem:

That said, we don’t yet have enough evidence to make this claim just yet. A deeper investigation of the level of competitive balance in baseball and other sports requires more than a look at regular season win distributions. We also need to look at the distribution of playoff appearances, as well as the volatility of win totals from year to year (what sociologists and economists would refer to as “mobility” were we discussing household and personal incomes rather than success in sport).

So there you have it–based on win distributions, the MLB is clearly the most balanced American sports league, and the NFL the least balanced, contrary to popular opinion. This tells us that there is something inherent in baseball that is generating a great deal of fairness for the teams that play, regardless of payroll disparity. This also raises the possibility that Baseball’s “competitive balance problem” may be nothing more than a public relations problem (which isn’t insignificant, it’s just not a problem that can be fixed by modifying the distribution of payrolls).

This isn’t exactly news to me.  In fact, I have said it time and time again.

Every time some egghead runs one of these studies, they find the same thing: Major League Baseball’s competitive balance, as measured by regular-season wins, compares favorably with the other sports.

I’m not even sure you need an egghead (or me) to tell you this. Just look around. The worst baseball teams will lose roughly 65 percent of their games. The worst football teams will lose 90 percent of their games; the worst basketball teams, roughly 85 percent.

MLB has had more different World Series winners over the last 20 years than any other sport can claim.  It’s kind of obvious to those who can just get past the fact that, sadly, their teams suck or are just mis-managed all to hell.

So, I get it. Do you?

You should also get that the Royals, Reds and Pirates haven’t been truly competitive since today’s graduating college seniors were in diapers because of inept front offices for the most part, not some sort of overwhelming disadvantage.

The system is in place where teams like the Minnesota, Oakland, Tampa and Florida manage to compete, and sometimes even win it all.  The fact that these clubs go decades without even coming close speaks volumes to their incompetence.

That is a public-relations problem for Major League Baseball and a management problem for that handful of teams, nothing more.

So lay off the whining about a lack of competitive balance in baseball.


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