Baseball loves touting the fact that economics don't have to determine the outcome of a season. It just seems that way.

Yes, you can win without a roster full of high salaries. Just look at San Diego, which has the second-lowest payroll ($37.8 million) and has the second-best record in the National League (51-38). Or Texas, which has the fourth-lowest payroll ($55.3 million) yet leads the American League West by 4 1/2 games.

But the numbers still say if you want to win, you need to spend. And the success of the Padres and Rangers -- not to mention Tampa Bay ($71.9 million; 21st), which has the second-best record in the majors, and Cincinnati ($72.4, 19th), which is first in the NL Central -- is much more the exception.

Just look at the top 13 teams when it comes to payroll. Of this group, only the Chicago Cubs ($146.9 million, third) and Seattle ($98.4 million, ninth) are under .500. Only two sit atop their division, but none of the 11 are more than five games out of first.

For what it's worth, the Nationals' payroll is 23rd overall at $61.4 million. The Yankees top the list at $206.3 million. But if that makes you sick, think how a Cubs fan must feel knowing this: For the millions they've spent, they've won just 39 games. They're on pace to win 71, which means they would have spent approximately $2.1 million a victory. The Pirates, meanwhile, are on pace for 55 wins and will have spent $635,327 a victory.