As a fan of the Reds and the Rays, I’ve got a built-in inferiority complex. An essential element of my baseball fandom consists of complaining that the baseball gods hate small markets. Of course, my Yankee and Red Sox-loving friends usually ignore my carefully-constructed arguments on how to improve baseball parity while enjoying their championships and drinking the tears of us losers.
Complaints about disparity in the sport are nothing new, of course (“Did you know those Cincinnati Red Stockings pay all their players? How unfair!”). In the past two decades, however, many fans of Major League Baseball have perceived the system as fundamentally broken, as they witness big-market teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs dominate and small-market teams like the Royals, Pirates, Twins, and Reds often struggle to stay relevant. But, in the spirit of new-school analytic fans questioning all our assumptions about the game, I need to ask: Is there actually disparity in the league, or is that just a myth?