The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the hook to pay out $306,719,852 this season alone and with over 3/4 of the season complete have spent $3,524,989 per victory (all per victory totals calculated prior to Tuesday’s games). In contrast, the Houston Astros with their payroll of $79,385,239 have spent only $885,893 per victory, roughly 1/4 of what victories have “cost” the Dodgers this season. Based on this season’s salaries, the average team in Major League Baseball “pays” $1,572,937 per win. Only 4 of the 30 MLB teams pay less than $1 million per victory with the Tampa Bay Rays and their $71,022,257 payroll paying the least, $882,051 per win. There are 7 teams who pay more than $2 million per win and if the season ended today (Wednesday August 26, 2015) only two of those teams would be in the playoffs; The Los Angeles Dodgers ($3,524,989/win) and the New York Yankees ($2,414,931/win) and the Yankees would only be a wild card team. Of the 4 teams that pay less than $1 million, only the Astros would make the playoffs right now. Of the 7 remaining playoff teams, only the Texas Rangers pay more than the league average per win. This means that 7 out of the 10 playoff teams are paying less than the league average per victory, proving, at least this season, money doesn’t equal success.
There are 7 playoffs teams that have at least 70 wins this season and non of those teams pays more than the league average per win, the closest being the Toronto Blue Jays ($1,512,206/win). The only team with 80 wins, the St. Louis Cardinals pay only $1,256,019/win despite having more wins than anyone in baseball. Last year’s World Series runner up, the Kansas City Royals, are pacing the American League with 77 wins and only paying $1,241,131 per victory.
Further proof from this season that spending more money doesn’t translate to more win is the fact the Red Sox ($2,456,968/win), Phillies ($2,109,223/win) and Tigers ($2,087,509/win) all have losing records despite their high payrolls. The Giants ($2,150,818) and Nationals ($2,150,818) have winning records but would still miss the playoffs as of today even though they both spend over $2 million per win.
The old adage “money can’t buy happiness” seems all too true this season in Major League Baseball as the Dodgers’ ace, Clayton Kershaw, admitted after Sunday’s loss to Houston, their 5th straight overall, he “hope[’s] [they’re] panicking a little bit” but he believes “panic’s a good thing, to a certain extent.” When a team paying barely a quarter of what yours is hands you a series sweep it may be time to panic. With less than a quarter of the season left, the teams with the most skin in the game are the ones struggling to meet the expectations all that money brings with it. As for the Astros, who keep surprising everyone by “Beatle-ing” every team on their way to leading the AL West, they don’t care too much for money, because they know MONEY CAN’T BUY THEM WINS.