Will there ever be a 'superteam' in the MLB?
Myles Garrett, a second year player on the Cleveland Browns who has only appeared in 11 games in the NFL, recently came out and said that when Kevin Durant went to the Warriors, he “broke the league.” If you don’t happen to be a fan of one of the four teams that made it to the Conference Finals this year, you probably recognize the fact that your squad has no chance at winning a title for the next five years. This realization has caused widespread criticism of the NBA from fans across the country, with many denouncing ‘superteams’ as the death of competition. I am not here to defend or challenge that claim, but rather to take it to another sport entirely: baseball.
The main question I pose in this article is “Will there ever be a superteam in the MLB?” Certainly many would argue there have been numerous examples in the past, from every Yankees team to the three-peat A’s, but can any teams boast that title today? Because, though many lineups may look fearsome on paper, every single player rarely lives up to their expectations, producing mixed results that may still garner an organization 100 wins (despite their potential to win 115).
What I’m basically trying to say here is that a baseball team has a lot of parts, and I can’t really recall a time when one had all of those parts working at peak efficiency, nor do I think there ever will be such a team. Sure, the Houston Astros have multiple All-Star talents in the field and a legitimate five man rotation, but they aren’t a lock to win every game, and that’s what I love the most about baseball一any team can take home a W on any given night. The lesser team’s pitcher might throw his best start of the season, or some guy with two home runs on the season might hit a walk-off dinger. It works the other way too; the mightier team might send out their ace who boasts a sub-two ERA, only to see him give up six runs in three innings. This is why, mixed with other factors, we will never see a true ‘superteam’ in this common era of baseball. This is the sport with the most parity, and even teams that have been historically bad (like those aforementioned Astros) have developed into, at the very least, respectable clubs.
Another reason why talent is spread more evenly in the MLB? Scouting. Baseball scouts have the hardest jobs and are often under the most scrutiny, as determining whether an 18 year-old will be an MVP in 10 years is no small task. The Draft is truly the great equalizer, as baseball’s version is the most unpredictable due to the sheer amount of players taken and the time it takes those players to develop into Major League-ready ballplayers. One team might strike it rich in a draft and find itself with three homegrown All-Stars in the next five years, while another could have zero players from that same draft on their roster. And of course free agency, like in all other sports, helps even the most random of teams compete. Look at the Philadelphia Phillies this year. They have gone from a 96-loss team last year to contending for the NL East crown this year, and a big part of that shift was the signing of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, two big name free agents who had their pick of the litter. Because they chose to sign with Philadelphia, they immediately boosted the club’s stock, but free agency (especially nowadays) is a big mashup, and any organization could come out on top (as long as they have the funds).
Want another random example to convince you that the ‘superteam’ has not penetrated the MLB? How about last year, when the Cleveland Indians went on a 22-game winning streak en route to a 102 win season but then dropped the ALDS to the Baby Bronx Bombers (who had come from the Wild Card)? The NBA equivalent might have been the Toronto Raptors playing the Indiana Pacers. No question the Raptors would win that series, but the MLB operates under different circumstances.
Anyways, don’t fear baseball fans; by my (objective) count, there are still 20 teams out there that have a shot at making the playoffs one way or another. Though many will call baseball the most boring sport with the dumbest traditions, one thing it can always boast is its ability to level the playing field.