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Does money really talk? There have been a few conversations here today about this topic. To answer this, I put together a graphical analysis of the average MLB total team salary per year, and how the World Series winner's team salary measured against it.
Very interesting to see that there was a ten percentage point difference between the winners with a total salary above the league average, and the winners who had a total salary that was on par with the league average (+/- $500,000 ).
Teams below the league average only accounted for 18% of World Series victories since 1988.
The numbers don't lie. Any thoughts on this? Let's sound off as usual.
great visuals artful! very good analysis. some others implied that thebig spenders weren't actually winning but yes i think the numbers speak for themselves. the more money the team has to pay its players, the better their chances. baseball is american capitalism at its finest (or ugliest, depending on what side you're on)
Money most certainly makes a team. If money was no object, any of us here could certainly buy ourselves a good team and win a couple of championships. So much so that I don't really enjoy watching baseball all that much when teams like NY, Boston or any large market city can spend there way to a title.
I think that the one who loses the most from sports leagues without salary caps are the fans of all those small market teams, they simply will have a really hard time competing and making a viable business. I can attest to this fact from the comparison between the NHL pre and post lock out. There is so much parity in the league now that coaching and GM abilities play such a bigger role then they ever had before. Even under the salary cap system, small market teams in the NHL have a hard time being competitive (Nashville, Florida Panthers, maybe Winnipeg)
Jared, I just posted the link to a blog post of a baseball fan who doesn't quite agree with your position on salary caps. What do you think of his opinion?
Yeah, I read some of those when I was wondering why baseball doesn't have a salary cap. Back in the day, I used to think that the Leafs should have just used the hundreds of millions on just buying a Stanley Cup before the salary cap. But really, I think I'm going to appreciate it more now that all the teams are on an equal footing.
It's like sending the Dream Team (remember them, the USA basketball All-Stars) to the Olympics. Of course you're going to knock Sweden back to the stone ages. It's also the same reason for weight classes in Boxing.
i agree with jared. it's almost like economic class distribution. the rich get richer and stronger, while the poor stagnate or get poorer. except that with baseball, there is an obvious solution - caps!
"Class distribution" in the MLB mashed up against class distribution in society could be an interesting data mashup ;-)
Reminds me of a graph in Soccernomics running a regression between position in league table and team salary. I think that one had an R-square of above 90% from what I remember. Not much surprise.
Tani_K, I think you'll like this data analysis: http://transferpriceindex.com/2011/08/the-2011-update-to-the-msq-model/
You can upload it to your blog or website, and then post a link to the image here, as a visualization.
Great visualization although there is an error. 2009 the Yankees won the world series. The Phillies came out on the losing end. You do provide very impressive and artistic visuals. Keep it up!
It does show the Yankees for 2009. You might have missed the Yankees logo because it's very high above the curve for salary average :-P
And thanks! Great to see lots of conversation and activity here this weekend.
My bad. It is indeed an outlier from a visual perspective. I found that odd because your visuals are the best hands down on this data set.
Since 2001, 7 of the last ten World Series titles have been won by teams with the 8th (and as high as 24th) highest payrolls with the average for that period sitting at 9.6. Three titles (2 by the Red Sox and 1 by the Yankees) were won by the top two highest payroll teams but after that the argument for a highest payroll gets tossed out the door.
The analysis reveals an interesting trend in the overall results of the high paying teams. Yes, a higher percentage (46%) of the highest payroll each season have gone on to win the world series, but in the bigger picture, most teams who have won are within the top to median percentile of salary payers (~82%).
Spending the most money in any league does not equate to winning championships. But what it does do is win more games. What would be a good test/problem to solve is the Yankees wins for something like 5 years compared to a team near the bottom of the spending curve. What I think you'll see is that they win quite a few more games.
So logic will dictate that because the Yankees will win more games, the deeper into the post season they will go, giving them opportunities to win more games which then gives them the chance to win a world series.
But what's hard to quatify is the role of things such coaching, morale, confidence, scandals etc (x factors) play in a season in any sport. I think almost all of these charts agree that if you spend more, you'll win more. You only have to lose four games in the whole year to come in second place.
Good points Jared! Yes, data shows that more money equals more wins over an entire season, and often a berth in the playoffs.
However, I'm sure the strategists and management of these big spenders have the championship as their goal for the season, unlike a smaller team that would probably have a goal of a decent run of wins and a decent showing in the playoffs.
But yes, it will be interesting to see a comparison between the Yankees and a low spending team, like you suggested.
Hi, Just got back in commission after posting the player salaries a few weeks ago. Nice visualizations ag - what packages do you use?.
The 2001 salary spike looks wrong. I think the average team outlay should be of the order of $65 million that year. Also couple of points on the other two graphs. In the pie chart is the 'within year average' the mid 50%. Also not clear at all what the bubbles denote
People seem happy enough with the system but it seems flawed to me. As I believe one of the other visualizations showed, money helps you get to playoffs but then its a free for all. Even the theory that having the best pitchers is what wins has suffered a setback this year.
To my mind the European soccer model has the advantage in that the Champions League (cf World Series) is seen as the pinnacle of success but winning the national leagues (cf a MLB division) is still of itself a major achievement. Of course salaries play an even more significant role over there
BTW I have just posted some NFL player salaries
I generated this chart from the data, to highlight the highest paid player in the MLB for each year. I have added a separate dataset for analysis of the salary spending and team success on the field.
You're very welcome. Thought it would some add context to the data. Feel free to opine!
What surprised me somewhat is the fact that only A Rod in 2009 with the Yankees was the highest paid player to win the World Series.
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