“You get what you pay for” is a useful saying, and we’ll make a sweeping generalization that it’s true more often than not.
So long as it’s not applied to the 2023 Major League Baseball season, that is.
In 2022, teams generally did get what they paid for. The 12-team playoff field consisted of nine clubs—including all five of the biggest spenders—that were in the top half of the league in payroll and just three in the bottom half.
It’s early yet, but what’s unfolding in 2023 is basically the Bizarro World version of last year. If the season had ended with Memorial Day on Monday, the playoff field would have been split evenly between six teams in the bottom half in payroll and six teams in the top half. Of the six teams with the highest payrolls in each division, not one is in first place.
Out of the teams with the top 10 payrolls, the New York Mets ($345.5 million), San Diego Padres ($247.9 million), Philadelphia Phillies ($243.5 million), Los Angeles Angels ($215.9 million), Toronto Blue Jays ($214.1 million) and defending World Series champion Houston Astros ($190.7 million) have all put themselves in danger of falling short of the postseason.
What the Heck Is Going On?
As in, small picture? A whole bunch of explanations that reside on various points of spectrum with “Surprising” on one side and “Foreseeable” on the other.
Toward the latter is where you’ll find the Mets. Their Justin Verlander- and Max Scherzer-led rotation looked like the best in the league coming into the year, but there were always concerns relating to its age and questionable durability. Cut to now, and their rotation leads MLB in money lost to the injured list while also ranking last in the National League in rWAR.