While baseball is lots of fun to watch, it is also a business. As a Blue Jays fan an interesting example of this over the off-season was the debate regarding the potential re-signing of pitcher David Price, with the Jays ultimately deciding not to do so. So an interesting question is when we are looking at the 2015 Jays through the lens of how well they have done creating a winning team given the resources they have, how did they do compared to the rest of the American League? Certainly having a larger payroll will allow any team to spend more on top-notch players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the highest spending team will win the most.
If we look at the chart below, comparing all American League teams with respect to payroll and wins, we see that the Blue Jays 2015 payroll came in at 8th in the AL, though they had the second most wins.
If we look at the amount of money spent on payroll per win, you can see that the Blue Jays are one of the more efficient teams in terms of payroll dollars spent per win. The Jays spent roughly $1.25 million per win on payroll, roughly half of what the New York Yankees spent per win.
Looking at it the payroll vs. total wins slightly differently if we look at the scatter plot below, we can see how the relationship between the two doesn’t work perfectly. If there was a perfect relationship between the two, the teams with the highest number of wins should also be paying the most in overall salary. In other words the top teams should be in the top right quadrant, as this would signify being above the line of average payroll, and being to the right (or higher) in terms of average number of wins.
It doesn’t quite work that way though, and while we see the Yankees, Angels and Rangers in the top right quadrant — signifying having an above average payroll and above average number of wins — we also see the Tigers and Red Sox having an above average payroll but below average number of wins.Interestingly enough we see the Blue Jays and Royals — who of course were the last two AL teams standing — as both having payrolls under the AL average.
Note: Team salaries are as of opening day 2015, and are sourced from www.thebaseballcube.com. It does not include all amounts actually paid over the course of the season. Changes to any teams payroll during the season would not be reflected. As a result cost per win is likely going to be somewhat different for each team.