The gap between baseball’s winners and losers remains wide.
That lack of regular-season parity across the league means less competitive games, uncompelling division races and fewer teams and fan bases with postseason aspirations.
Nine teams had 90-plus wins, with four reaching triple digits. On the flip side, nine teams had 90-plus losses during the 2022 regular season, with four reaching triple digits.
Here’s a look at how each team finished:
Of course, even in a top-heavy league, teams that quickly establish themselves as World Series favorites are not guaranteed postseason success. Last season’s three triple-digit winners learned that the hard way. The 107-win San Francisco Giants and 100-win Tampa Bay Rays were bounced in the division series, and the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers fell in the NLCS to the 88-win Atlanta Braves, who had the fewest wins of all 2021 postseason teams and went on to win the championship.
The Braves will look to become the first repeat champions since the New York Yankees won three-straight titles from 1998 to 2000. Since then, 15 different teams have won the World Series.
Once in the playoffs, anything can happen. Getting there, even as MLB continues to expand the field of teams who qualify, is the challenging part for those who are all but mathematically eliminated from the race before the All-Star break.
Fortunes, however, can change quickly. The most recent example of that is the Baltimore Orioles, one of two teams to lose 110 games during the 2021 season.
The Orioles - with the league’s third-lowest payroll in 2022 at $64.8 million, per Spotrac - had a 30-plus win improvement from season-to-season. They finished 83-79 in the American League East, the league’s most competitive division, and remained in playoff contention for a majority of the season.
While the Orioles are one of this season’s outliers, the league’s disparity in win-loss record typically - and obviously - is correlated to its wide disparity in payroll. This season’s 100-plus win teams – the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets - have three of the four highest payrolls in the league. The biggest spender to miss the postseason was the Boston Red Sox, who paid out over $223 million in salary and finished 77-84. The Chicago White Sox (208.3 million) and Los Angeles Angels ($192.9 million) also spent plenty to have their seasons end on Oct. 5.
The other nine teams with top-12 payrolls all made the playoffs. The three lower-budget teams to complete the 12-team postseason field include the league’s annual outlier, the Tampa Bay Rays (86-75, $99.5 million payroll); the team that ended the league’s longest playoff drought by qualifying for the first time since 2001, the Seattle Mariners (90-72, $128.7 million); and the team with the lowest payroll to make the 2022 playoffs, the Cleveland Guardians (92-70, $82 million payroll).
In 2021, seven of the 10 postseason teams had top-11 payrolls. In 2020, eight teams from each league made the playoffs during the pandemic-shortened season.
In the two seasons prior, there was less correlation between payrolls and postseason berths, with five of the 10 playoff teams having a top-10 payroll in 2019 and four in 2018.