Mains: The small-market blues

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on January 17, 2018:

I don’t mean to pick on Pirates owner Bob Nutting. At least not him solely. But his quote above represents a widespread misperception in contemporary baseball: That small-market teams like the Pirates can’t compete with the rich teams in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Let’s start with this: From 1947 to 1964—that’s 18 years—there were 109 World Series games. Of those 109 games, 45—or 41 percent—were contested between two teams from New York. Another 52—or 48 percent—had one New York team. There were only 12 World Series games over an 18-year span that didn’t include any teams from New York. And if you give New York credit for the California-transplanted Giants and Dodgers, you get 56 games with two current or recent New York teams, 47 with one, and only six games—Cleveland’s 1948 triumph over Boston—that didn’t involve Gotham. Long before free agency, the rich big-city teams absolutely dominated the game.

By contrast, during the 18 years since 2000, there have been only seven World Series games involving two New York teams (and that was back in 2000) and 24 involving one. The domination of baseball by teams in the biggest markets? It just isn’t happening. Look at the numbers if you don’t believe me.

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Originally published: January 17, 2018. Last Updated: January 17, 2018.