The Kansas City Royals have swept their first three opponents in the 2014 Major League Baseball Playoffs, making them just the second team to enter the World Series undefeated since the league adopted a new postseason format in 1995. Almost as statistically unlikely as the Royals’ undefeated playoff run: They’ve done it with a payroll below the league average.
The Royals, who host the San Francisco Giants in game one of the World Series tonight at Kauffman Stadium, are just the seventh team since 2000 to play in a World Series after starting the season with a payroll below the MLB mean.
The previous six overachievers are a combined 2-4 in the World Series, with the most recent four teams losing to better-funded opponents.
The Royals will face the same dilemma. Their $92.03 million Opening Day payroll was approximately $23 million less than the league average and $62 million less than the Giants’ payroll to start the season.