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MLB Franchise Pecking Order

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:03 am
by Drew Corleone
Thought this might be a fun discussion topic as we get closer to Spring Training. Not sure how familiar any of you are with Stewart Mandel's "Program Pecking Order" bit that he first did in 07 and then updated twice since, but he essentially took all D1 college football programs and assigned them into one of four tiers - Kings, Barons, Knights, and Peasants.

I keep thinking about this lately, as it would pertain to other sports, so wanted to throw out my list and see if anyone else had some thoughts.

First, an initial thoughts... Mandel doesn't really take performance into account, per se... see his rationale:

Suppose we went to, say, Montana. And suppose we found 100 'average' college football fans (not necessarily message-board crazies, but not twice-a-year viewers, either) and put them in a room. If I held up a Michigan helmet, my guess is all 100 would know exactly what it was. ... But if I held up a Georgia 'G' helmet, how many of them do you think would be able to identify it off the top of their heads?"

I think if we apply that kind of logic to MLB, a more regional sport with fewer casual fans, IMO, you'd end up with the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and CUbs, and then everyone else. So I did look at general performance criteria v. a knee-jerk assessment based on nothing more than how I think the average baseball fan has an opinion on this team, one way or another.

Here are my knee-jerk thoughts:

Kings: Boston, Chicago Cubs. LA Dodgers, NY Yankees, San Fran, St. Louis
Barons: Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Oakland, Toronto
Knights: Baltimore, Chicago White Sox, Cinci, Houston, KC, LA Angels, Minnesota, NY Mets, Philly, Texas, Washington
Peasants: Arizona, Colorado, Miami, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, SD, Seattle, Tampa

I don't suspect you'd get much argument on the top tier, but trying to balance historical relevancy v. recent success makes for a tougher task. Atlanta had 14 years of dominance with little else in their history, but seem on the way up, and only won one title. But they were also littered with HOFers. The Indians haven't won a world title in 60+ years but they've been fairly competitive for 20+ years now and they have national recognition from the Major League movies, as well as the controversy over Chief Wahoo. The Tigers seem to be good for an LCS every decade, at least, and while Oakland's best days seem behind them the general history and more recent Moneyball years make them a solid choice, IMO. Toronto is here mainly because they are the team for an entire country, though their window to win anything appears to be closing.

Tier three is a mix of teams with history on the decline (B-more, Cinci, Royals), big market teams that languish in the shadow of more successful franchises (White Sox, Mets, Angels), Minnesota and Philly, who look like they're on the move back up, and could possibly be tier two (Philly, especially), and the Texas teams, who have both been good more than they have been bad the past 30 years, but don't seem to get much national play despite it. I think the fact that they've spent most of their respective histories wedged into divisions with no real natural rivals has hurt them, and if they can both be good at the same time for a few years running the rest of the country would take notice.

D-Back, Marlins, and Pirates fans might balk to being in tier four, but the Marlins blew it up immediately after both titles, and the Pirates window has officially slammed shut. They feel like a poor man's Oakland. Arizona has a decent argument for being higher, but I think I just can't get past the purple and teal.

So that's my "gut list."

I went to B-R and pulled some high-level numbers. I assigned a sliding points scale based on titles, pennants, and playoff appearances, along with overall win percentage and playoff appearances weighted by franchise years. Finally I gave credit for HOFers (total, not based on team assignment on the actual placard). This could absolutely get a better treatment, but as a start I think it's fine.

This is how the results played out (in order of my points scale):

Kings: Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, A's Red Sox, Braves
Barons: Cubs, Pirates, Reds, Tigers, Orioles, Indians, Twins, Phillies
Knights: White Sox, Mets, Royals, Astros, Angels, Blue Jays, D-Backs, Rangers
Peasants: Rays, Padres, Marlins, Nationals, Rockies, Brewers, Mariners

That's an arbitrary 7-8-8-7 arrangement. The reality is that it's Yankees with a wide gulf to St. Louis, another wide break from the Dodgers to the A's and the Tigers to the Orioles, with a fairly linear decrease from there.

If I ever get the time I'd like to re-do weighting distant titles less than recent ones, and maybe include things like MVPs and Cy Youngs.

Re: MLB Franchise Pecking Order

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:47 am
by U2-Horn
It's a lot to take in but I definitely raised an eyebrow at you putting the Pirates at the bottom and Toronto in Tier 2. I think the Rangers are awfully close to the bottom tier though tbh

The BR based rankings seem much more correct to me

Re: MLB Franchise Pecking Order

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:12 am
by Drew Corleone
Mainly from the standpoint that for 30 years (92-12) they finished higher than 3rd one time.That dry spell was book-ended by two separate runs where they couldn't get over the hump, and now they've blown it up again, with no real reason to think they're going to be competitive any time soon. For a team with almost 140 years of history they have had sustained success for a period in the 70s and that aforementioned run in the early 90s. And WRT Toronto, again, I see them as Canada's team, which I think counts for something. They went to half of the ALCS from the mid 80s through mid-90s and then the brief renaissance a few years ago, all the while knowing that any success they have comes at the expense of the Yankees or Red Sox.

All of that said, part of the fun of this exercise is poking holes in rationale and offering up opposing views. And you're right, it's a lot to take in, and I've been thinking about it off and on for a few weeks.

Re: MLB Franchise Pecking Order

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:14 am
by Drew Corleone
One last thing, and then I'll step out pending some other opinions... I don't think these necessarily should be even splits.