Of the 16 MLB teams that finished with a .500 record or better in 2013, seven (Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays) began the season with payrolls in the bottom half of the league.
The 14 teams with losing records included the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays, all teams with payrolls above $100 million to begin the season.
The seven aforementioned winning teams were obviously getting much more "bang for their buck" than the six aforementioned losing teams. A look throughout those rosters, and the differences are clear: more young and inexpensive talent on the winning side, and more overpriced veterans on the losing side.
While building a roster filled with high-priced veterans has proven to be effective on occasion, one of the keys to fielding a winning ballclub on a year-to-year basis without having to spend significantly in free agency is to consistently produce homegrown players who can fill an integral role on the team during the first four or five years of their career.
Signing those players to team-friendly contract extensions, as has been the focus of the Braves this offseason, to keep them beyond their arbitration years on salaries that aren't breaking the bank is another strategy that has often worked quite well.
It's the perfect balance, however, that can lead to the ultimate success of a world championship. A handful of veterans who are living up to their big salaries mixed in with several talented, young and inexpensive players is the foundation.
The X-factor is in the production that a team can get from the remaining group of roster-fillers, which normally consists primarily of waiver-wire acquisitions and free agents signed at rates that would be considered well below-average for a league-average player.
I've ranked the 30 teams, from worst (No. 30) to best (No. 1), based on who is likely to get the most value out of the dollars spent on their 2014 player payroll.
2014 salaries are listed in parentheses next to players listed in "overpriced," "underpriced" and "other potential values" categories.