Due to the absence of a salary cap, the MLB has traditionally been a league where the most money is found in the hands teams located in major markets. Every year, the teams from New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit seem to have the highest payrolls. However, as the Phillies and the Red Sox demonstrated this year (they were the teams with the 2nd and 3rd highest payrolls) there is not a strong correlation between high payrolls and wins. In fact, Dan Lependorf of Hardballtimes.com, in this pretty technical yet awesome blog showing the various correlations between Wins, Payroll, and Attendance for all MLB teams between 2000 and 2011 http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/how-are-wins-attendance-and-payroll-all-related/, found that the weakest correlation of the three possible combinations of those bold stats was between payroll and wins (R squared = 0.16 for you stats nerds).
However, this is not to say that having a higher payroll means nothing. Having more resources at your disposal allows teams the ability to make moves that other teams simply can’t do, such as trade-deadline moves that can help push your team over the top, signing multiple star players to long-term guaranteed contracts, etc. As Lependorf points out, the strongest correlation by far is between payroll and attendance (R squared = 0.54), meaning that the higher payrolls strongly correlates with higher attendance.
Despite not being located in the largest market (the 58th most populated city according to the 2010 US Census), the Cardinals have managed to find themselves in the top 10 in attendance every year since 2000. As I mentioned before, high attendance and high payroll go hand in hand. That means that you guys, the Cards faithful, have made it easier on the management to provide this city with the best team year in and year out. And as we witnessed last season, they’ve done their best to pay it back in full. A beautiful, symbiotic relationship between a city and their team. Let’s keep it up!