This week in sports: The Padres don't totally suck

$ / W

The Padres and the Pirates have a 2010 team salary of $38M and $35M, respectively, well below the $52M payroll of the Oakland Athletics, the team with the third lowest payroll. 12 games into the season, the the Padres are 6-6, the Pirates are 7-5 and the A's are 9-5.

The top three payrolls are the Yankees at $206M, the Red Sox at $163M and the Cubs at $147M. They have 9, 4, and 5 wins respectively. In fact, when you look at the cost per win ($/W) of every team in baseball, the Pirates, Padres and A's are the first three teams and Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs are in the bottom 7 teams.

Whats does all this mean? That Billy Beane still rules with Moneyball and that the Padres and Pirates are following suit? means you don't try to draw any statistical conclusions after 7% of the season.

Also, the payrolls of the Padres and Pirates are so low, that they are almost guaranteed to finish with a better cost per win than the Yankees. To give you an idea, if the Pirates set the record for fewest wins over 162 games (they would be worse than the 2003 Detroit Tigers who finished 43-119) their cost for each of the 42 wins would be $833,333. To beat this, the Yankees (with their $206M payroll) would need to win 247 games.


  1. What would you expect to be a solid $/W rate for your average market team? for your small market team? for your large market team?

    I ask all 3 since, as you pointed out, a legit rate for the Yankees would always be higher than a solid rate for the small-market Marlins (perhaps they're not a small-market team, but they'll always spend like one...). We're on such a small sample, I'd love to see this for some teams from recent seasons!

  2. My actual thoughts on the beginning of the baseball season:

    1) Maybe the Padres won't finish in dead last...maybe.

    2) Albert Pujols is good.

    3) Halladay + Lincecum vs. the field for the NL Cy Young is a fair bet. They would both be a -110 or -120.

    4) I did not know Ivan Rodriguez was on the Nationals until I saw that he currently leads the National League in batting average with a .444

    5) The Phillies score a lot of runs and don't allow very many runs...that's a recipe for success. These guys could go far.

    6) I hope both the Red Sox and the Yankees miss the playoffs. Let's go Rays and two teams from the same division in the AL Central or AL West.

    7) Albert Pujols is really good.

  3. Scott, I'll look into it and get some numbers, but honestly? I don't think $/W is a good stat for baseball where the majority of teams will finish between 72 and 92 wins (10 games above or below .500) and team payrolls have multiple outliers.

  4. 3) If you're offering those odds, I'll take Halladay/Lincecum for $A LOT. Who else in the NL will challenge them this year? Wainwright/Carpenter will steal votes from each other (again), Jimenez is still too young/volatile/inexperienced to keep his current form for 5 more months, and Livan is still too old/fat/bad to keep up his pace for the rest of the season.

  5. I'd also like to point out that tonight is the first game of the season b/n the Giants and the Padres. With MP and myself being from SF and Aaron and Royce being from SD, this should be good times.


  6. What happened in the Padres-Giants matchup?

    I love how you put the cliffhanger question "Does this mean that moneyball wins?" before the jump, then immediately answered it with "No." right after. Good times.

    I have almost no thoughts on baseball, I hardly follow it.

  7. But where's the Elephant Seal at? I feel like he should weigh on this.

  8. The Padres beat us last night on one hit. ONE HIT!


  9. Ok, I crunched the numbers regarding team payrolls, the number of wins and each team's cost per win. You can see my work for 2008 and 2009.

    There is a weak positive correlation between the total payroll and the number of wins (duh), there is a VERY strong positive correlation between total payroll and cost per win and zero correlation between wins and the cost per win. So what do these last two mean?

    I think it confirms my suspicion that $/W is a useless stat. The number of wins a team gets doesn't affect it's position relative to the other teams when ranking $/W. The only thing that matters is the team's total payroll.

    Almost no matter how many games they win, at the end of the season the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Phillies will have the highest $/W and the Padres and Pirates will have the lowest $/W.

  10. Here's a link that actually works for 2008.

  11. Thanks for the extra research (even if it proved meaningless). Can you elaborate on why some teams are starred?

  12. Yes, I can explain exactly what each column and cell are, but I liked the comedic effect of showing my work via an indecipherable spreadsheet.

    In attempting to identify the average market teams you asked for, I looked at payrolls within one standard deviation from the mean and one-half standard deviation from the mean. The asterisks are the teams within one-half standard deviation from the mean.

    The three sets of data are the same, but the first is ranked by team payroll, the second is ranked by $/W and the third is ranked by Wins. The asterisks follow the same teams throughout the data.

    The average $/W was pretty much the same regardless how far from the mean I went. All 32 teams have pretty much the same $/W as the middle 26 and the middle 13. (There are 26 teams within one standard deviation from the mean and 13 teams within one-half standard deviation from the mean.)

  13. "Yes, I can explain exactly what each column and cell are, but I liked the comedic effect of showing my work via an indecipherable spreadsheet." -- this cracked me up Aaron, haha well played

    I cannot get over the way baseball lets teams overspend and underspend. The lack of a hard salary floor or cap makes these insane gaps in payroll really fascinating to me... I know we've talked about this before, but it really reinforces my enjoyment of the NBA's salary system.

  14. Whereas, all I hear when discussing the NBA salary structure is useless player X's expiring contract being traded for overpaid player Y's long term CRIPPLING contract.

    "Ok, I'll give you two first round picks if you take this former All-star and his bloated long term contract, which I gave him two years ago, off my team and give me the expiring contract of a guy who doesn't play anymore."

  15. Perfectly stated, and still better than baseball haha