Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The National League West

I wanted to make some brief observations about what appears to be the weakest division in Major League Baseball. In 2005, I became sick that the Padres made the playoffs all the while the Phillies, Marlins and Mets had a better record than the Padres. This year it has become apparent that the NL West may produce another fifth or sixth best National League team. The reason for this I feel is that the NL West has teams that are so evenly matched in their average nature that they seem to beat up on one another each year and struggle against other NL foes. This division is probably the best way to display what true competitive balance would feel like. I have made arguments in the past that perfect competitive balance would be better for small market teams (TB, KC, PIT) and would eventually even out the economic problems in baseball. However, the problem with that, as the NL West displays, is that if everyone has similar talent, the teams are just no fun to watch and would really hurt the sport. Without successful teams like the Cubs, Red Sox or Angels, the MLB would suffer greatly because competitively balanced teams make for anticlimactic ballgames for home fans.
Economic theory has proven that fans will come to games if they feel that there are between 60-65% chance of victory, anything higher or lower would not attract fans because the games would be less interesting to the average fan (Take a look at the attendance and winning % figures for the Red Sox, Cubs and Angels over the past five years). This blog is not intended for the average fan however which is why I bring up the NL West. That division currently provides hometown fans with the possibility of victory well below 60%. Against division rivals, each team should be around a 50% which to me is a thing of beauty. The competition level of NL West games has been fantastic because when they match up against each other, any team could win. This season, I have been watching a lot of NL West games because these teams are all so evenly matched and recommend it to any true baseball fans as well. I do not expect any of these teams to make it far in the playoffs, but they are sure fun to watch play against one another.

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