This is a list of the top five organizations in baseball. The teams and order were determined by the organization’s overall success and how economically they got there.
1) St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are easily the best organization in baseball. They are a model of consistency, as they have made 10 playoff appearances since 2000, including four World Series appearances and two World Series Championships. The Cardinals have been able to have such prolonged success due to their ability to develop their own talent. They have never been constrained by a large contract eating up too much of their salary, and even let Albert Pujols walk rather than commit too much money to one player. 2013 was an excellent example of this club’s ability to develop its own talent, especially pitchers. In 2013, the Redbirds turned to 12 rookie pitchers, who threw a combined 553 2/3 innings with a 3.17 ERA. The organization’s commitment to build through the draft, rather than Free Agency, has contributed to its sustained success and ranking as the top organization in baseball.
2) Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have appeared in the Postseason seven times since 2000. More importantly, they have reached the World Series three times in that span, culminating in three World Series Championships. While the Red Sox have quite a financial advantage over other organizations, the Red Sox have still built up their core through the draft. They have developed their own stars, like Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox farm system is still stocked with talent, including Xander Bogaerts, Henry Owens and Allen Webster. Like the Cardinals, the Red Sox are often able to fill holes with internal candidates, such as Jackie Bradley Jr. taking over for Jacoby Ellsbury. While the Red Sox have had their share of bad contracts, especially Carl Crawford’s 7-year, $142 Million deal, they are able to survive such poor decisions. In the case of Crawford, the Red Sox pulled off a miracle trade to the Dodgers to dump his salary and still acquire talent in return. As long as the Red Sox continue to focus on developing their own talent, they will hold their position as one of the top organizations in baseball.
3) Tampa Bay Rays
Ever since Stuart Sternberg took over as owner of the Rays in 2006, they have been one of the best-run organizations in baseball. Operating with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball, the Rays quickly turned it around under new ownership, as they reach the playoffs and World Series for the first time in the organization’s history in 2008. Since 2008, the Rays have had five seasons of at least 90 wins in six total seasons. Their success, despite being located in one of the smallest markets of any MLB team, can be attributed to their shrewd personnel decisions and reliance on young Major Leaguers under team control. The Rays have not drafted particularly well, since 2007 when they landed David Price and Matt Moore. Despite little success in recent drafts, the Rays have acquired young, controllable talent by trading veteran players, who were nearing Free Agency. The two best examples of this strategy are when the Rays traded Matt Garza to the Cubs and landed Chris Archer, among others, and when the Rays traded James Shields for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi. Their ability to remain competitive, despite being located in one of the smallest markets in baseball, earns them the designation as one of the top organizations in baseball.
4) San Francisco Giants
The Giants are not exactly a model of consistency, as they’ve only made the Postseason five times since 2000, but they have reached the World Series three times in that span, including two Championships since 2010. The Giants have not made the Postseason in consecutive seasons since 2002-2003. However, despite their inconsistencies, the Giants should certainly be commended for their success in the amateur draft. Through the draft, they have built a strong core of talent, including Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brandon Belt and Madison Bumgarner. They have also had a lot of success by acquiring many failed prospects, such as Ryan Vogelsong, Joaquin Arias and Angel Pagan. In order to remain among the top organizations in baseball, the Giants must continue to be successful through the draft and avoid bad contracts like the one they gave to Barry Zito.
5) Oakland Athletics
The A’s are best known as the first team to fully embrace advanced metrics, but also as an organization that has not had much success once it reaches the Postseason. Since 2000, the A’s have reached the Postseason seven times; yet have only reached the ALCS just once. After a five year period between 2007-2011, in which the A’s never reached the Postseason, the A’s have now reached the playoffs for two straight seasons. Much of their recent success has been due to some incredibly savvy trades. This is exemplified by the fact that the Athletics initially acquired 23 of all 44 players that appeared in a game for them last season via trade. The Athletics have never had an advantage financially, as they have always been located among the bottom 3rd of teams in payroll and player in one of the smallest markets in baseball. This fact has forced the Athletics to search for cheap talent through the waiver wire. Also, like the Rays, they have had to trade more expensive players nearing Free Agency in order to supplant their roster with younger and cheaper talent. With one of the best front offices in baseball, the A’s seem poised for sustained success.
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