This obviously isn’t going to last all season, but right now it’s pretty damn startling to look at the standings and see that the five teams with the highest payrolls in MLB are all .500 or worse and four of them are currently in last place.
New York leads MLB with a $198 million payroll, yet the Yankees are 21-21 and tied for last place in the AL East with the Red Sox, who have MLB’s third-highest payroll at $173 million.
Philadelphia sits between them in payroll at $175 million and the Phillies are bringing up the rear in the NL East at 21-22. Similarly the Angels rank fourth with a $155 million payroll and are the AL West’s last-place team at 18-25. Detroit is the only top-five payroll to avoid last place, but the Tigers and their $132 million payroll aren’t exactly thriving with a 20-21 record that’s good for third place in the horrendous AL Central.
Add it all up and those five teams have spent around $833 million on players for this season, and after one quarter of the schedule they’re a combined 101-110 and 27 total games out of first place.
All of which makes me wonder: When it comes to the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, and Phillies making the playoffs this season, how you would bet if the over/under was set at 2.5 teams? I’d likely still take the over.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.
Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.
Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.
This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.
As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.