Major League Baseball (MLB), long painted as the picture of anti-parity because of its lack of a salary cap, is having one of its...

Major League Baseball (MLB), long painted as the picture of anti-parity because of its lack of a salary cap, is having one of its most competitive seasons in memory. There are heated races in all six divisions as post-All Star Break play picks up tonight, Friday, July 15, with all 30 teams back in action.

In fact, only one division leader entered the All-Star Break with a lead of bigger than three games — the Philadelphia Phillies, who led the Atlanta Braves by 3 ½ games in the National League East. Every American League division leader had a lead of one game or less while the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals were tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates just one game behind them. Overall, 17 of the 30 MLB teams were within 6 ½ games of first place.

The close races are good news for the resale market, which has slumped thus far this season. According to figures provided by TiqIQ.com, the average resale price of a Major League Baseball ticket this season is $56.50, a drop of 8.33 percent from last year’s price of $61.97.

Only 10 teams’ tickets are selling for more on the resale market this year than last and only five of those squads are in contention. The biggest gain on the resale market has been made by the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants, whose tickets at AT&T Park are reselling for an average of $63.78, a hike of just shy of 45 percent from last year’s price of $44. The Giants entered the All-Star Break with a three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who entered the Break one game behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, enjoyed the second-biggest improvement on the resale market. Angels tickets are going for $41, a 41.38 percent increase from last year’s price of $29.

The Rangers, who won their first AL pennant last year, have posted the fourth-biggest improvement at 12.12 percent (average price of $56.25, up from $50.17). The Pirates, who are trying to break the North American professional sports record for most consecutive losing seasons, have recorded the sixth-biggest gain at 8.33 percent ($39, up from $36). The Cardinals have the ninth-biggest improvement at 2.44 percent ($42, up from $41).

Among non-contenders, the Florida Marlins have seen the biggest boost on the resale market. Tickets for Marlins games in their final season at Sun Life Stadium are going for an average of $51.93, a 20.77 percent improvement from last year’s average of $43.

Ticket brokers can find encouragement in the fact that the resale prices for 12 of the 17 teams in contention are down so far, including the seven teams with the smallest drops, and that the market should improve as the summer goes on and these squads remain in the hunt for a playoff berth.

Of the seven squads with the smallest declines, three entered the Break with at least a share of first place: The Phillies and Red Sox, who had the two smallest drops of 0.3 percent and 1.1 percent, and the Brewers, who had the seventh-smallest drop at 10.53 percent as their tickets fell to $34 from $38. And minimal hits taken thus far by the Phillies ($73.01, down from $73.23) and Red Sox ($124.41, down from $125.79) should be corrected as fans flock to see the two teams with the longest sellout streaks in baseball.

The Cleveland Indians, who spent most of the season in first place in the AL Central had the fourth smallest-drop ($50.91, a 6.28 percent decline from $54.32). Other contenders whose tickets have sold for less on the resale market this year include the Diamondbacks ($71.09, a 4.88 percent decline from $74.74), the Atlanta Braves ($50, a 6.84 percent decline from $53.67), the Tampa Bay Rays $50.97, a 7.14 percent decline from $54.89).

Five contenders have taken double-digit hits on the resale market. The worst drop-off has been experienced by the Minnesota Twins, who were 17-37 through June 1 and suffered as well from a stretch of lousy weather for home games at Target Field. Twins tickets are going for an average price of $57.73, down 28.46 percent from $80.70 a year ago. That’s the fourth-biggest drop in the game, but the good news for Minnesota brokers is the Twins are 25-11 in their last 36 games, during which they have gained 10 ½ games in the mediocre AL Central.

Other teams in the playoff race whose tickets are selling on the resale market for at least 10 percent less than a year ago include the Cincinnati Reds (down 16.24 percent to $43 from $51.34), Detroit Tigers (down 15.37 percent to $45 from $53.17), the New York Yankees (down 15.29 percent to $81.97 from $96.77) and the Chicago White Sox (down 14.27 percent to $65.43 from $76.32).

The team whose tickets have taken the biggest drop on the resale market is, not surprisingly, the New York Mets, who incurred reams of bad publicity over the winter due to their ownership’s association with Bernie Madoff. Even though the Mets managed to remain on the fringes of wild card contention at the All-Star Break despite a series of injuries to stars such as David Wright, Ike Davis, Jason Bay and Johan Santana, the average price for a Mets game at Citi Field down a mind-boggling 51.55 percent to $52.26 from $107.86.