Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

October 18, 2006

The Worst Teams Money Can Buy
by SG

Reader (and fellow blogger) Brent raised an interesting question in the comments yesterday about who the worst team money could buy may be. The invaluable Lahman database has salary information dating back to 1985, so I figured that's a reasonable cutoff.

Comparing salaries across eras is a little tricky, but I figured I could use a system similar to the one used for stats like OPS+ and ERA+, namely comparing the teams' payrolls to the league averages, and assigning them a payroll+ value. To do that, I divided the team payroll by the league average payroll and multiplied by 100, so a Payroll+ of 100 is league average, a Payroll+ of 150 is 50% greater than league average, etc.,

The goal of a baseball team is theoretically to win games, so the first set of numbers below is pretty straightforward, it's just the team's win total divided by their Payroll+ that season, aka W/Payroll+.

In this chart, Payroll is the team's actual payroll from the Lahman database (except for 2006, which I got here). AdjPayroll is just an adjustment to express the payroll in terms of 2006 baseball dollars, Payroll+ is what I mentioned above, W are team wins in that given season, W/Payroll+ is detailed above (strike/shortened seasons are adjusted accordingly), and Playoffs is just whether or not a team made the playoffs.

If you wanted further evidence of how inefficiently the Yankees have been run recently, the top 3 spots in the list are a pretty good indicator. No team has gotten less per dollar spent than they have.

Of course, wins are part of a team's goal, but so is making the postseason. How about if we just look at teams that didn't achieve that goal?

Congratulations to the 2003 Mets, the team that spent the most per win while failing to make the postseason.

Since the 2006 Red Sox came up in the original question, I ran the list all the way down to include them. As you can see, despite having the highest payroll ever for a team that did not make the postseason, relative to the league they were far from the biggest disappointment.

Update: rbj asked about including postseason wins, so here's the list with those added in.