Baseball No Longer Has a Middle Class Thanks to Tanking
The gap between good and bad teams in MLB has never been wider.
One look at the MLB standings makes it pretty clear: there are good teams and bad teams – and not too many in the middle.
At 50-22 (as of 6/22), the New York Yankees are tops in the league followed by the Astros (50-26), Red Sox (50-26), and Mariners (46-29). At the bottom, you’ll find the Baltimore Orioles (21-52), Kansas City Royals (22-52), Chicago White Sox (24-49) and Miami Marlins (29-46).
With those records, the Orioles, Royals and White Sox are on pace to have more than 100 losses and the Marlins and Cincinnati Reds (also 29-46) aren’t too far behind them. To put how bad that is in context, MLB hasn’t had two teams lose more than 100 games in the last 15 years.
On the flip side, the four winning teams mentioned above all have a pretty good chance at hitting 100 wins, as do the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. In MLB history, there have only been six times there have been three 100-win teams in a season.
This dynamic means the top teams in the league have almost guaranteed themselves playoff spots whereas the teams behind them, even the ones that are mildly competitive, would have to go on ridiculous winning streaks to play themselves back into contention.
The root of the problem here is, at least for the most part, tanking.
“At some point, baseball is going to have to do something to rein in the practice of tanking,” according to The Washington Post. “To this point, the issue has always been the union’s problem alone, with Manfred defending the practice as recently as this spring. But what the numbers have shown in the first half of 2018, both in the standings and at the gate, is that the problem is bigger than we thought, and it is no longer the union’s alone. It is becoming a crisis, and it belongs to all of baseball, including the owners.”
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