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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Team Value in Return or, How the Astros are Still a Laughing Stock

Casual baseball fans, think about the game on a semi-regular basis. How do I know this? I too was once a casual fan. Bloggers, are not casual fans. We spend our spare time thinking about what we can write about next and whether or not we wrote about it a week ago, or if some other blog has already tackled the subject. In other words, our bottles of soap and shampoo last much longer than that of a casual fan. So, in the spirit of blogging instead of showering, I decided to calculate the value that each team has gotten in return on their investments (players) up to this point in the season.


A couple of quick things about the table below.

1.) All the payrolls are prorated for the amount of games that each team has played so far this season. So, no, the Dodgers did not find a way to shrink their payroll down to $113MM without any news media outlet finding out. I will note however, that if I had left the salaries at the full season amount, some teams would already show up with a positive difference between the value earned and money spent. But I will touch on that later because I have to be fair to the Yankees

2.) The goal is to find the value earned based on Fangraphs' version of Wins Above Replacement. Emphasis on "Above." Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus explained to me that this exercise shouldn't penalize teams for players that are playing at replacement level and that since the league minimum salary is already priced into the concept of WAR, it should be removed, and that teams should be compared by what they spend above and beyond that. So the league minimum salary of $490,000 (side note: I should have kept playing baseball) has been removed for each player on a teams roster. And that has been prorated to adjust for games played by each team, or (490,000 * 25) * .52. Simple, right? In this case, that amount is $6,492,500.

3.) There is no "3." But everyone always has a third bullet point, and I wanted one too. So there it is.



  • First and foremost; Damnit, Jeffery Loria. So much damnit. He shipped off almost every player that was making any serious money before the season started and somehow, some way, the Marlins already have accrued more value then he has paid out in salary up to this point. Damnit.

  • Everybody say it with me: AstroLOLs. Their total payroll of $26.1MM for the 2013 season is the lowest in all of baseball. It is more than $200MM less than what the Yankees are spending this season per Baseball Prospectus. Yet there they are, in the negative by more than $4MM. Don't ever change, Houston. Don't ever change.

  • The Rays, Athletics and Pirates have three of the five lowest payrolls in baseball. The Rays and Athletics have recieved already in return, more than $100MM in value from their players. And the Pirates are right there at $97.68MM. 

  • The Yankees and the Dodgers are the only two teams with payrolls north of $200MM, and unless they go on serious tears to close out the season, they don't have a snowballs chance in H-E-double hockey sticks of generating positive value.

  • Mike Trout has accrued an fWAR of 5.1, just under half of what the Angels offense has been worth this season so far. Mike Trout is the best. Ditto for Miguel Cabrera who's fWAR is already at 5.7. The difference between the two, salary. Cabrera is making $21MM this season and is already worth $28.7MM. Trout is making $510,000 this season and is already worth $25.5MM. Miguel Cabrera has been better this season by fWAR, but Mike Trout has been far more valuable in terms of money.

  • Three of the four teams that are in the negative for value, have the three highest salaries in baseball (Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies). The other is the Astros. So, once again, LOL Astros. But unlike the Dodgers and Yankees, the Phillies have an outside chance of at least breaking even by seasons end. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not. But, possibly. And it serves as a great example that money spent does not necessarily equate to value in return.

  • So, in case you were wondering (and even if you weren't, because I was anyway) about how much value your team, or some other team may have generated during the season so far relative to whatever portion of $3.19 Billion being spent by Major League Baseball on player payrolls (Wow!), there's the table. At least, if nothing else, I finally learned how to use Microsoft Excel. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a shower. I'm sure I have plenty of soap.

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