We all hear many of the same things this time of year when frequenting various message boards - "Our GM is crazy", "Our ownership sucks", "We're going to be terrible next season because we didn't sign _______", and the one that really eats at many longtime Braves fans "Our system is flawed". I've always found that one pretty comical, particularly when hearing another Braves fan make that statement. The Braves have consistently been in the middle of the pack salary wise over recent years, but continue to put a competitive team on the field year in and year out.
Just for a little fun, let's take a look at 2012. The following numbers provide player salaries spent per win last season (salary info is opening day commitments provided by Cot's Baseball Contracts).
2012 MLB Salaries Per Win
Washington - 98 wins - $92,534,929 = $944,233.97/win
Cincinnati - 97 wins - $87,826,167 = $905,424.40/win
Yankees - 95 wins - $209,792,900 = $2,208,346.32/win
San Francisco - 94 wins - $131,355,298 = $1,397,396.79/win
Oakland - 94 wins - $52,873,000 = $562,478.72/win
Atlanta - 94 wins - $93,529,667 = $994,996.46/win
Texas - 93 wins - $120,836,000 = $1,299,311.83/win
Baltimore - 93 wins - $84,102,333 = $904,326.16/win
Tampa Bay - 90 wins - $63,627,200 = $706,968.89/win
Anaheim - 89 wins - $151,381,000 = $1,700,910.11/win
Detroit - 88 wins - $133,475,000 = $1,516,761.36/win
St.Louis - 88 wins - $111,858,500 = $1,271,119.32/win
Los Angeles - 86 wins - $105,419,833 = $1,225,812.01/win
Chicago White Sox - 85 wins - $97,669,500 = $1,149,052.94/win
Milwaukee - 83 wins - $98,150,833 = $1,182,540.16/win
Philadelphia - 81 wins - $172,093,902 = $2,124,616.07/win
Arizona - 81 wins - $75,417,833 = $931,084.36/win
The teams that finished with losing records in 2012 were as follows...
Pittsburgh - 79 wins - $51,932,333 = $657,371.30/win
San Diego - 76 wins - $55,621,900 = $731,867.11/win
Seattle - 75 wins - $84,928,100 = $1,132,374.67/win
NY Mets - 74 wins - $94,508,822 = $1,277,146.24/win
Toronto - 73 wins - $83,739,200 = $1,147,112.33/win
Kansas City - 72 wins - $64,001,725 = $888,912.85/win
Boston - 69 wins - $175,249,119 = $2,539,842.30/win
Miami - 69 wins - $101,628,000 = $1,472,869.57/win
Cleveland - 68 wins - $65,430,300 = $962,210.29/win
Minnesota - 66 wins - $100,435,000 = $1,521,742.42/win
Colorado - 64 wins - $81,135,571 = $1,267,743.30/win
Chicago Cubs - 61 wins - $109,316,000 = $1,792,065.57/win
Houston - 55 wins - $60,799,000 = $1,105,436.36/win
That's an average of $1,238,958.42 per win for the $3,010,668,965 spent by all 30 teams. Seventeen MLB teams finished with .500 or better records last season, and
roughly half (actually 9) of those won 90 or more games. Teams that
finished at or above .500 in 2012 paid $1,230,833.16 per win, and teams
that won 90+ games paid $1,104,336.67 per win.
The 2012 Atlanta Braves paid 80% of the average investment per win compared to the league average figure. Furthermore, they paid 81% of the average investment per win compared to the average paid by teams finishing above.500, and 90% of the average investment per win compared to the average paid by teams that finished the season with 90+ wins.
That's fine you say, but why aren't they doing more with less like the Rays or the A's? Braves fans tend to hate the stathead crowd, but Moneyball was written about Oakland for a reason - Billy Beane STILL gets more out of less than anyone in the game. Tampa's #2 SP (James Shields), HR leader (B. J. Upton), and franchise 3B (Evan Longoria) were each playing for SIGNIFICANTLY below-market contracts, and Shields and Upton have since been deemed to be too expensive and subsequently dealt away or allowed to leave.
If you exclude those two organizations, no one does it better than the Braves. Of the teams finishing above .500, the figures show that Washington, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Arizona each paid less than the Braves per win last season. However, none of those teams has been close to being considered a contender on a consistent basis like Atlanta has. A deeper look at the "bad" teams shines an even brighter light on how well the Braves do things - yes, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Kansas City paid less per win than Atlanta in 2012, but they've been perennial "doormats" for years. Powerhouses like Houston (110% of Atlanta's investment per win), Seattle (112% of Atlanta's investment per win), Minnesota (135% of Atlanta's investment per win), and the Cubs (144% of Atlanta's investment per win) all paid significantly more for the wins they got last season.
The Braves' system is "flawed"??? It sure doesn't look that way to me. Only three teams won more games than the Braves did last season, and only one of those (the suddenly budget-concious, formerly free-spending Yankees) got there by throwing big money at big names. It appears as though Frank Wren should be one of those prominently mentioned in conversations concerning GMs that do more with less.
Bravo Frank...keep grinding!!!