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MLB: Low-spending teams get their chance in playoffs
Baseball » Cincinnati, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Cleveland reach postseason with small payrolls


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Half of the 30 teams have made the expanded playoffs in the past two years. Twenty-one have reached postseason play in the last five, and every club except Kansas City and Toronto has appeared in the playoffs over the past 13 seasons.

At a glance

MLB Playoff schedule

Wednesday

American League

Tampa Bay (Cobb 11-3) at Cleveland (Salazar 2-3), 6:07 p.m.

Thursday

National League

Pittsburgh (Burnett 10-11) at St. Louis (Wainwright 19-9), 3:07 p.m. (TBS)

Los Angeles (Kershaw 16-9) at Atlanta (Medlen 15-12), 6:37 p.m. (TBS)

Friday

American League

Cleveland-Tampa Bay winner at Boston (Lester 15-8), 1:07 p.m. (TBS)

Detroit (Scherzer 21-3) at Oakland (Colon 18-6), 7:37 p.m. (TBS)

National League

Pittsburgh at St. Louis (Lynn 15-10), 11:07 a.m. (MLB)

Los Angeles (Greinke 15-4) at Atlanta (Minor 13-9 or Teheran 14-8), 4:07 p.m. (TBS)

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Many accustomed to the October spotlight already are home. Missing out along with the Yankees were Philadelphia (fourth at $166.2 million), the Los Angeles Angels (sixth at $143.4 million), defending champion San Francisco (seventh at $141.3 million), Texas (eighth at $134.5 million) and Toronto (ninth at $125.9 million).

Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have found success with youth. Only Houston ($29.3 million) and Miami $42.3 million had lower payrolls than the Rays, and they jettisoned veterans in favor of young players. While they endured terrible seasons — the Astros were 51-111 and the Marlins 62-100 — they hope a young core will transform into a contender in a few years.

"If you place that type of faith in them, a lot of times they’ll come through for you," said Athletics manager Bob Melvin, who works under Billy Beane, the general manager who made "Moneyball" famous.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona has seen the dollar divide from both sides. He led the large-market Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, and then took over the more-limited Indians last fall.


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"Once the game starts, dollar signs go out the window," he said. "It’s more helpful in the winter when you’re trying to sign guys, but I’ve immensely enjoyed this team and that has nothing to do with money. It’s the characters and the character on this team, and whether we win or lose won’t have anything to do with money."

Revenue sharing came in with the labor agreement in 1997, two years after the end of a strike that wiped out the World Series for the first time in nine decades. Revenue sharing was boosted again in the 2002 labor deal, when a tougher luxury tax was agreed to. That tax has gotten stiffer, and in 2011 players agreed to restraints on bonuses for amateur draft picks and international signings.

"I took a lot of criticism back in those days," Selig said. "Is it worth it now? You bet it is. Because I knew we were doing the right things."

Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks there’s another factor at play: drug testing.

With fewer players using performance-enhancing drugs since testing began in 2003, there are fewer oversized sluggers with oversized statistics who bulk up their salaries in the free-agent market.

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