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Baseball, ten years on

So. Ten years ago, I wrote about Baseball here on this Tohu Bohu, and maintained that Major League Baseball did not have a competitive balance problem. I said There are currently no well-run teams that have not competed for a division title in the last three years. That was 2001-2003, the last three years at the time, and I listed as poorly-run teams those from Detroit, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Texas, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego, Colorado, and Milwaukee.

What constitutes success for a team in a 30-team league over ten years? If the answer is only a championship, then at least 20 teams are going to be unsuccessful, which makes it an unuseful definition for me. A pennant? Two playoff appearances? A couple of 90-win seasons, whether you actually make the playoffs or not? Let’s see how those teams have done.

Since 2003, the Detroit Tigers have won two division titles and a wildcard and won two pennants and had three 90-win seasons, the Tampa Bay (redacted) Rays have won two division titles and a wildcard and won one pennant and had four 90-win seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have won one wildcard and had one 90-win season, the Texas Rangers have won two division titles and a wildcard and won two pennants and had three 90-win seasons, the Cincinnati Reds have won two division titles and had three 90-win seasons, the San Diego Padres have won two division titles and had one 90-win season, the Colorado Rockies have won two wildcards and one pennant and had two 90-win seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers have won one division title and one wildcard and had two 90-win seasons.

It hasn’t been a great decade for each of those teams, but then of course if you want competitive balance, not everyone can have a great decade. Still, each of those teams—eight teams I had specifically singled out for both crappy results and crappy management—have had substantial success over the last ten years.

Oh, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have had one 90-win season and one wildcard, as of… now.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


So who would you put forward as the poorly run teams to check up on in 2023? Houston, LA Angels, Seattle, Minnesota, Chisox, Kansas City, Colorado, Chi Cubs, NY Mets, Philadelphia, and (last but by no means least) Miami?

I would agree that Kansas City should have been on the 2003 list.

Honestly, I haven't been following the rest of baseball enough to have a list in mind. I'm not sure I put Philadelphia on the list--they've made problems for themselves, but they are the nearly-inevitable problems of post-success, and I would wait a year or three to see how they dig themselves out. This may be a Giants fan perspective, though... If I accept your list, what's interesting is that many or even most of them are 'big market' teams within the meaning of the discussion of 10-20 years ago. It's almost as if the problem of competitive imbalance due to market and revenue imbalance was overblown at the time.


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