December 1, 2020

Baseball’s Competitive Balance Problem | FanGraphs Baseball (FanGraphs)


The current landscape of the game might charitably be called an era of superteams. Last year, the Yankees, Astros, Twins, and Dodgers all won more than 100 games. In 2018, it was the Red Sox, Astros, and Yankees; the year before that, the Dodgers, Indians, and Astros all won at least 100 times. The Cubs won 103 on their way to a World Series title, bringing the total number of 100-win teams over the past four seasons to 11. In the 10 years heading into 2016, only four teams hit the 100-win mark, and only the 2009 Yankees and 2011 Phillies won more than 100 games. Superteams are made possible by great players and smart organizations, but they are also made possible by having a bunch of bad teams to beat up on. The lack of competitive balance in today’s game is worse than it’s been in more than 60 years, back when there were only 16 teams and the reserve clause kept players from ever choosing their own employer.

One way to test baseball’s competitive balance is simply to take every team’s winning percentage in a single year and find the standard deviation. The smaller the standard deviation, the more teams are bunched toward the middle in a more competitive…

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