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A cost per win analysis - April edition

A fun exercise to see how much each team has paid for each of their wins thus far. Let's have some fun with numbers, shall we?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As April’s books were officially closed after last night’s games, I thought it would be fun to do a quick cost per win analysis.  I will preface this by saying this is straightforward math, and that this is more of just a fun exercise.  I do not intend to unearth deep, overarching conclusions (but I welcome those who will attempt to do so in the comments section).  This mainly just tells us how efficient each team has been with their payroll thus far.  The method was quite simple; I just took the total 25-man Opening Day payroll via Cot’s Baseball Contracts, and divided it by the number of wins that each team had in April.  Again, this is by no means a perfect analysis, because I will fully acknowledge that since not all teams played the exact number of games, this is not a 100% fair method.  For example, the Orioles only played 20 games in April, while the White Sox only played 19.  The vast majority played 21 or 22 games, with a few 23 games played.  I figure this will even out with subsequent months, so it is not the end of the world.

Even with the admitted limitations of the method, I think it still provides one number that, even if not perfect, portrays the story of roughly how efficient (or not efficient) a team’s total payroll has been thus far.  Without further ado, let’s see how the results played out for the month of April:

As you can see, after a red hot 15-7 start, and considering the Astros have the second lowest payroll, we have been the most cost-efficient team thus far.  The Rays, Mets, and Marlins make it interesting, but for the most part, our play has put us in a league of our own.

The other team that really jumped out at me is the Dodgers.  A $271.6M opening day payroll?  I knew it was high, but wow.  That even makes the Yankees blush.  By having the largest payroll in the league by far, they are already at an inherent disadvantage in an analysis like this.  And unsurprisingly, they are the least efficient cost per win team in the league thus far, although they are enjoying sitting at the top of their division.  Even being division leaders at the moment, do you think Magic Johnson and the rest of the ownership group looks at the Astros and wonders why we have more wins than them even though our team payroll is almost $200M less than theirs?  That has to be at least a little annoying (I get a little perturbed when I buy something for $20 but then later goes on sale for $15!).  The only other two teams that have spent more than $20M per win thus far are the Rangers and the Brewers, and they are both sitting in last place in their division.  Again, I don’t think there is anything to learn from that dichotomy, other than maybe the Dodgers mission statement going into this year was "If you want to ensure success, make sure you spend about $100M more than any team in your division."  That sounds like an expensive mission statement, but that could also be where the Rangers and the Brewers erred.

Getting back on topic just a little, let’s get back to the Astros.  I expected the numbers to look favorable for the Astros (again, due to their surprisingly well April in addition to their low payroll).  But I didn’t expect them to look this good.  Just look at how we have done thus far relative to our division.  We are almost twice as efficient than the second place A’s.  We are around three times as efficient as the Angels and Mariners, while being more than four times as efficient as the Rangers.  Considering our low payroll, that makes our 15-7 record even more impressive.  Who knows if we can keep this up, but I am going to enjoy this while it lasts.  For our sake, let’s hope that this trend continues, but we will just have to see next month when I update the analysis to include May’s results.