Wednesday December 6, 2023

Big-Dollar Clubs Home For MLB Playoffs, But Money Still Matters

  • Postseason field includes set of lower-budget upstarts
  • ESPN and parent Disney to exclusively show entire first round
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2023 MLB postseason is shaping up to be one of the more diversely competitive in recent memory — reflecting a very changed landscape across the sport. 

The set of 12 playoff teams does not include large-market, big-spending titans such as the New York Mets and Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago Cubs, all of whom traditionally draw many of the MLB’s largest television audiences. But it does include five teams back in the postseason after multiyear absences — Arizona, Baltimore, Miami, Minnesota, and Texas — with each contributing to the league’s overall surge in attendance.

In result, this postseason will exclude the top three teams in MLB payroll but include two of the bottom four, and four of the lowest 10.

“This certainly shows that it’s difficult [for teams] to buy a ticket to the postseason,” ESPN baseball announcer Karl Ravech told Front Office Sports. “There are more than just spend-money ways to have consistency over 162 games.”

As part of a growing trend, other low-spending clubs such as the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Guardians also engaged in postseason chases before fading late. But whether that situation will extend over multiple seasons remains to be seen, as this year’s playoff field also includes the Nos. 4-7 and 9-10 teams in player payroll. 

The wild-card round — with quadruple-headers — is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Another four games are set for Thursday if each of the four best-of-three series goes the distance.

The division series will begin on Saturday in Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, and Los Angeles, as each of those cities’ teams earned a bye. 

“This whole thing is a tournament now. That’s the beauty of this,” Ravech said. “You just get into the tournament, and anything can happen.”

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