Quick analysis of the remaining MLB post-season match-ups, using payroll (total amounts & value received) as the best determining metrics:
Dodgers $220,395,196 (now listed as #1 in MLB. NYY now #2, adjusted down to $203,445,586[!])
Better starting pitching is the real difference here, with Clayton Kershaw ($11.75M–best pitcher in baseball), Zack Greinke ($21M, a #2 starter), and Hyun-Jin Ryu ($3.3M–bargain!).
The enigmatic Ricky Nolasco ($11.5M) is their #4 starter.
The LAD lineup would be significantly better than STL, if they had CF Matt Kemp ($20M).
Even without Kemp they are clearly better; with Hanley Ramirez ($15.5M), Adrian Gonzalez ($22M), and rookie sensation Yasiel Puig (N/A, but surely a HUGE bargain!).
Andre Ethier ($13.5M) supplies always valuable OBP, even if he lacks SLG.
Carl Crawford ($21M) is a complete overpay with his lack of both OBP (.329) & SLG (.407).
The only position the LAD were at or below replacement level in 2013 was catcher.
Josh Beckett ($17M) and Chad Billingsley ($11M), both starting pitchers, are on the 60-day DL. Added in with Matt Kemp, the LAD have $48M on the DL for the post-season.
They also have another $10M or so in the minors between Edinson Volquez, Jerry Hairston Jr and Carlos Marmol.
Cardinals $102,790,110 (now listed as #14)
As you can see, STL has less than half the payroll of the LAD.
Their best chance of competing with the LAD is to get better value.
Unfortunately there is too much wasted payroll here also.
Adam Wainwright/Chris Carpenter should be thought of as one pitcher, because they are never both healthy at the same time. That’s 25M/year for a NL ace, who this year is Adam Wainwright.
The rest of the STL rotation is a huge drop-off with Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha; each of whom earned around $500,000 in 2013.
Also on the DL are SS Rafael Furcal ($7.5M), SP Jaime Garcia ($5.9M) and RP Jason Motte ($4.5).
SP Jake Westbrook ($8.75M) is in the minors.
Matt Holiday ($16.2M) is STL’s HoFer, still holding on to his prime.
Yadier Molina ($14.2M) is the best catcher in baseball.
2B Matt Carpenter ($500,000–bargain!) is a championship player, along with RF Carlos Beltran ($13M).
Jon Jay for $524,000, works in CF.
The problem offensively is that the Cardinals are faking it at 3B, SS & 1B.
LAD should win this series easily. We’ll see.
Red Sox $140,657,500 (now 5th)
BOS was the best team in baseball in 2013. That happened because management took advantage of good fortune by unloading 3 really bad contracts (plus Nick Punto), in a once-in-a-lifetime deal with the LAD at the 2012 trade deadline. It also helped to fire Bobby Valentine.
With that money saved, BOS went out and paid top dollar to fill holes with SS Stephen Drew (N/A, but likely somewhere around $10M), RF Shane Victorino ($13M), and 1B Mike Napoli ($5M, huge bargain).
DH David Ortiz ($14.5M), 2B Dustin Pedroia ($10.25M), and CF Jacoby Ellsbury ($9M) drive this lineup that has good hitters at every position except 3B.
BOS lacks a true ace, as homegrown SP’s Clay Buchholz ($5.75M) and Jon Lester ($11.6M) profile as #2 starters, up to this point.
John Lackey ($16M), Jake Peavy ($16M) and Ryan Dempster ($13.25) add rotation depth, but are all overpays.
BOS has about $20M combined on the DL and in the minors for the post-season.
Tigers $148,414,500 (now 4th)
DET’s advantage over BOS would be their pitching. How much of it is real is questionable, as DET played in the weakest AL division, which artificially elevates their numbers in comparison to BOS, who won the toughest division in all of North American sports.
Justin Verlander ($20M) is a true ace.
Max Scherzer ($6.7M) is a nice 2013 Cy Young bargain.
Anibal Sanchez ($8.8M) has the stuff to handle the BOS line-up.
DET’s line-up starts with HoFer Miguel Cabrera ($21M) and 1B Prince Fielder ($23M), who is slipping fast and soon will be very overpaid for many years to come.
Other useful parts include DH Victor Martinez ($13M), SS Jhonny Peralta ($6M-underrated), and Omar Infante ($4M)–also underrated.
DET’s outfield is well-below average, with low OBP and SLG. CF Austin Jackson ($3.5M) is a minor bargain, but RF Torii Hunter ($12M) is an overpay. The Tigers are faking it in LF.
DET has around $6.5M wasted on the DL & the minors, which is by far the lowest total of any remaining playoff team.
BOS is the favorite, but DET’s payroll gives them a fair chance.
This is not about predicting a winner, it’s about understanding what’s going on.
2013 Season Awards:
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout
AL CY: Max Sherzer
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen
NL CY: Clayton Kershaw
The best manager in MLB is Joe Maddon.
HoF Ballot: Everyone I said last year, plus newcomers: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent.
Remember, you can enjoy baseball without knowing the numbers, but you can’t truly understand it.