The 2019 MLB season ended with somehow of a surprise when the Washington Nationals won the World Series. Another big story was the downfall of the Boston Red Sox after winning the 2018 World Series even though they had the highest payroll. That’s why I looked at the ratio of total payroll to wins. Here is what I came up with:
You can see the $ spent per Win, total payroll and number of wins when you hover your mouse over any team
MLB wins are a costly endeavour. On average the MLB teams spent 1.7 million dollars for a win and as we guessed the Boston Red Sox spent the most with 2.7 millions per win closely followed by the Chicago Cubs with 2.6 million and my Detroit Tigers with 2.4 million dollars.
The team with the most wins during the regular season, the Houston Astros with 107 wins, paid 1.5 millions for a win, which is just under the League Average. The World Series Champions from Washington had to lay down 1.9 millions for each win.
The Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are already known for what they can do with little money. The A’s spent around 1 million per win but the Rays are absolutely in their own league with 0.7 million dollars per win. The Red Sox had to spent 4.1 times this amount. And even though the Pirates only had 69 wins this year, they came pretty „cheap“ with 1.1 millions per win.
What if money completely ruled the MLB?
Based on the above numbers I played around a bit and asked myself how many wins each team should have if money was everything that mattered. For that I calculated the projected wins based on the total payroll for each team and the average of money spent per win across the whole league. Here is how this would look:
You can see the $ spent per Win, total payroll, number of wins, projected number of wins and the differential when you hover your mouse over any team
Based on this the Red Sox should have won 132 games. Which would be the highest record in baseball history in front of the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners who each had 116 wins. The Red Sox are closely followed by the Yankees with 129 projected wins and the Cubs with 128.
Again the Pirates are an interesting story. Based on this they only should have won 42 games. Sure, they came in last in the NL Central with 69 wins but they still had 27 more wins than projected.
One could also say that the Orioles had an unbelievably bad season with only 54 wins in the regular season. But if money would rule, they only would have won 42 games.
Again we can see how well managed the Rays and A’s are. The Rays won 59 games more than they should have and the A’s got 43 more wins than projected.
The Cincinnati Reds did almost exactly what they were supposed to do. They won 75 games in real life and have 74 projected „money wins“.
What do you think is most surprising here?
I plan on doing more little visualizations like this one. Let me know if you want to see something specific.
PS. The correlation between total payroll and wins is 0.46.