MacPherson: Money can’t buy success for MLB teams anymore

From Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal on August 26, 2014:

Money can’t buy happiness. Money can’t buy love.

In recent years, money can’t even buy a spot in the playoffs like it once did.

It seems incongruous, if not inexplicable, for a Red Sox team that has one of the game’s highest payrolls to be facing a second last-place season in three years (albeit with a World Series title sandwiched in between). Fans paying the highest ticket prices in baseball can be forgiven for expecting that Boston has to wield its financial muscle more effectively than it has lately.

But more than at any time in the last decade, the relationship between payroll and wins is almost nonexistent. Teams that once could acquire the game’s best players through the depth of their pocketbooks now find themselves with diminishing opportunities to spend their money in ways that will help them win games.

Based on an examination of Opening Day payrolls and win totals in the last 10 years, the correlation between a team’s payroll and its win total has plummeted. What was a strong relationship in the mid-2000s has fallen precipitously, particularly in the last three seasons. Less correlation exists this year between the standings and the payroll rankings of teams than between the standings and alphabetical order of teams’ home cities.


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Originally published: August 26, 2014. Last Updated: August 26, 2014.