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Monday, October 09, 2006
Again This Year, High Payroll Does Not Equal Success
At the beginning of the baseball playoffs last year, I compared the payrolls of all MLB teams to see what kind of impact payroll disparity in major league baseball had on overall team performance, and posted the results. Not surprisingly, my report showed that high payroll did not equal success. I decided to do another report this year, so I guess that means I can now officially call this my "Annual MLB Salary Report Card".
The most important category on the report card last year in terms of measuring general manager performance and sound organizational business decisions was the "Spent What Was Necessary" category listing all the teams that made the playoffs last season without breaking the bank: White Sox ($75M), Angels ($98M), Braves ($86M), Cards ($92M), Astros ($77M) and Padres ($63M). Now here's the irony. This season, 4 of these 6 teams actually spent more on payroll this year and did NOT make the playoffs: White Sox ($102M, and 4th highest payroll), Angels ($103M, and 3rd highest payroll), Braves ($90M), and Astros ($92M). Interestingly, St. Louis actually spent less this year ($88M) and DID make the playoffs again, and San Diego, with the lowest payroll of the entire group at $69M, made the playoffs again as well. [See USA Today's Salary Database, 2006 Total Payroll.]
Looking at the other teams making the playoffs this year in addition to St. Louis and San Diego, the Mets spent the same this year ($101M) and made a complete turnaround from last year. The Dodgers spent $15M more this year ($98M) and it paid off for them. The Yankees spent $15M less this year and still made it with a $194M payroll, but got ousted by Detroit who spent their $82M very wisely this year. Oakland ($62M) and Minnesota ($63M) each won their respective divisions this year -- As usual, Beane and Ryan got it all figured out. Whatever those two guys are making, it's just simply not enough. Boston, with the supposed "boy wonder" in charge and the 2nd highest payroll of $120M, can thank Minnesota (who spent half as much as them) and Detroit (who spent about $40M less than them) for not making it this year.
The MVGM award this year has to go to Billy Beane, whose $62M payroll has found its way in the ALCS against Detroit. Hats off to Florida Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, who pulled off a fairly respectable 78-84 record with just a $15M payroll and a roster made up of primarily young minimum salary players. But gosh, who knows what they might have accomplished by just spending another $15M? -- and they still would have maintained the lowest payroll!
Here's an interesting statistic. There are 12 teams that spent between $60M and $89M, and 5 of them (42%) made the playoffs (and as of this date three of them are still in it). There are 10 teams that spent more than $89M, and only 3 of them (30%) made the playoffs (but only one of them is still in it).
Salary caps? Who needs 'em......