The Value of Victory

There are a lot of ways to break down the success of a season, or lack thereof.  You can look at playoff status, you can compare to the previous year or years, you can compare to your division or league.  I am guessing while owners look at each of these factors, the overriding concern is the bottom line.  I think it comes down to two questions:  Did we make money or at worst, break even? And; Did we invest our money wisely into the product on the field?  Given the invisibility of most of the information needed, the first answer can not be answered here.  In a cursory way the second answer can addressed by comparing payroll to win production.

A few things to keep in mind, there is a demonstrated correlation between payroll and attendance as you will see.  The Reds finished the year with the 10th highest attendance in the National League after starting the year with the 10th highest payroll.  Not every team fits this perfectly into the mold, but it is predictive.  The saddest example is the Tampa Bay Rays who began with the 31st highest payroll and finished 3oth in attendance in spite of making the playoffs on the last day of the season in arguably the toughest division.

To develop this table, I borrowed attendance figures from baseball-reference.com and salary information from CBSSports.com.

Team 2011 Payroll Attendance Wins $/Win
New York Yankees $201,689,030 3653680 97 $2,079,268.00
Philadelphia Phillies $172,976,381 3680718 102 $1,695,846.00
Boston Red Sox $161,407,476 3054001 90 $1,793,416.00
Los Angeles Angels $138,998,524 3166321 86 $1,616,261.00
Chicago White Sox $129,285,539 2001117 79 $1,636,525.00
Chicago Cubs $125,480,664 3017966 71 $1,767,333.00
New York Mets $120,147,310 2352596 77 $1,560,354.00
San Francisco Giants $118,216,833 3387303 86 $1,374,614.00
Minnesota Twins $112,737,000 3168116 63 $1,789,476.00
Detroit Tigers $105,705,232 2642045 95 $1,112,686.00
St. Louis Cardinals $105,433,572 3093954 90 $1,171,484.00
Los Angeles Dodgers $103,788,990 2935139 82 $1,265,719.00
Texas Rangers $92,299,265 2946949 96 $961,450.00
Colorado Rockies $87,998,071 2909777 73 $1,205,453.00
Atlanta Braves $87,003,192 2372940 89 $977,563.00
Seattle Mariners $86,424,600 1939421 67 $1,289,919.00
Milwaukee Brewers $85,497,333 3071373 96 $890,597.00
Baltimore Orioles $85,304,038 1755461 69 $1,236,290.00
Cincinnati Reds $76,181,365 2213588 79 $964,321.00
Houston Astros $70,694,000 2067016 56 $1,262,392.00
Oakland Athletics $66,536,500 1476791 74 $899,141.00
Washington Nationals $63,681,929 1940478 80 $796,024.00
Toronto Blue Jays $62,517,800 1818103 81 $771,824.00
Florida Marlins $56,944,000 1477462 72 $790,888.00
Arizona Diamondbacks $53,639,833 2105432 94 $570,636.00
Cleveland Indians $49,188,867 1840835 80 $614,860.00
Pittsburgh Pirates $46,047,000 1940429 72 $639,541.00
San Diego Padres $45,869,140 2143018 71 $646,044.00
Tampa Bay Rays $41,932,171 1529188 91 $460,793.00
Kansas City Royals $36,126,400 1724450 71 $508,822.00

When you observe the NL Central standings from this perspective they change a bit.

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Houston Astros
  6. Chicago Cubs

This helps explain the need to find a new General Manager in Chicago when you realize they spent more per win than even the Phillies did in recording the third highest cost per win in all of baseball, trailing only the foolishness in the AL East between the Red Sox and the Yankees.  John Fay estimated that the Reds will spend around $85 million next year but as you can see that may not even change their ranking on this chart as they would not pass a single team if none of them decrease their payrolls.

Another fascinating side note is the fact that 3 of the 8 playoff teams in 2011 actually dropped in attendance from 2010 to 2011.  The Rays lost 335,814 in attendance this year while St. Louis lost 207,264 and the Yankees attendance dropped 112,127.  this is in spite of the slight increase in attendance across the Majors of just 186 per game.

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Tags: 2011 Season Attendance Major League Baseball Payroll

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