Thinking about competitive balance

Over the last five years, five different teams have won Major League Baseball’s October Classic.  None of these teams were the New York Yankees.  The Yankees did play in the World Series in two of these years.  The remaining eight slots, however, where filled with eight different teams.   All in all, sounds pretty competitive.

Small sample you say?  Well, let’s look at the past 26 years.  Since 1980, there have been 25 World Series played – the 1994 games were cancelled.  There have been 18 different winners.  Moreover, 23 different teams have participated in at least one World Series during this period.  That’s more than 75% of MLB teams.  The Yankees did play in more than their fair share with four wins in seven appearances.  But after the Yankees, only the Atlanta Braves — with five appearances — averaged a trip the World Series more than every five years.

What if we compare this to the first 60 years of Baseball in the 20th century?  The Yankees filled 29 of the first 120 possible slots, or roughly 25%.  If we extend this to any team from New York City — the Yankees, Dodgers or Giants — we find that these three teams played in the World Series 53 times.  That’s close to half!  If we throw in Chicago teams we see that close to 60% of World Series teams came from just two cities.

What does all this mean?  Things may not be perfect today, but competitive balance in baseball is clearly better than it used to be!

-MBS

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