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Is Payroll Size Overrated? The Cleveland Guardians Are Making Their Case – Forbes

Third baseman Jose Ramirez is the highest-paid player on the first-place Cleveland Guardians with a … [+] 2022 salary of $22 million. No other Cleveland position player is making more than $4.9 millio…….

Third baseman Jose Ramirez is the highest-paid player on the first-place Cleveland Guardians with a … [+] 2022 salary of $22 million. No other Cleveland position player is making more than $4.9 million. (AP Photo)

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How are the Cleveland Guardians doing this?

Not with money.

Cleveland entered play on Thursday in first place in the American League’s Central Division with a record of 76-65, four games ahead of second-place Chicago and five games ahead of third-place Minnesota.

The Guardians rank 27th in the majors in team payroll. They also rank 12th in the American League in average attendance per home game, 13th in total attendance, and 29th in home runs hit.

So, to review, the Cleveland Guardians don’t pay their players a lot of money, they don’t draw many fans, they don’t hit many home runs, and they don’t have many stars. Yet, with less than three weeks left in the season, they are in first place in the AL Central.

What’s wrong with this picture, right? As far as Cleveland’s organization is concerned, nothing is wrong. Nothing is broken. To the contrary, the over-looked, underappreciated Guardians are humming along as efficiently, in their own way, as any of the big-market, big-money teams, but without the fanfare, or huge payrolls.

Lacking money, fans, home runs, and stars – but not victories – what the first-place Cleveland Guardians have is elite management, on the field and in the front office.

There are daily reminders of that dynamic, and a convenient one on Thursday was the contrast between the salaries of the starting lineups of the Guardians and White Sox, who visited Progressive Field to play a previously postponed game.

Start with the fact that the combined salaries of Chicago’s starting battery of pitcher Lance Lynn and catcher Yasmani Grandal ($36.2 million) was almost more than the combined salaries of Cleveland’s entire starting lineup ($37.5 million).

The combined salaries of Chicago’s starting lineup was $97.8 million. That’s over $60 million more than Cleveland’s, yet with less than three weeks left in the season, at the start of play Thursday, Cleveland was in first place, four games ahead of Chicago.

A position-by-position, base salary-by-base salary (per spotrac) comparison of each team’s starting lineup Thursday further underscores that payroll is not necessarily the end-all or be-all when constructing winning teams:

Starting pitcher: Lance Lynn (Chicago): $18.5 million; Hunter Gaddis (Cleveland): $700,000.

Catcher: Yasmani Grandal (Chicago): $18.2 million; Austin Hedges (…….

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimingraham/2022/09/16/is-payroll-size-overrated-the-cleveland-guardians-are-making-their-case/

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