Great Moments in Probabilities: Yankees $200 million payroll edition

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There’s a profile of Hal Steinbrenner in the New York Times, talking about his leadership of the Yankees and his quest to bring down the payroll and get under the Luxury Tax threshold. Fun quote:

“My firmly held belief is that you don’t have to have a $200 million payroll to be world champion … And the historical data that led me to that conclusion is rock solid.”

Fun analysis from commenter silhouetted by the sea over at Baseball Think Factory:

5 times the Yankees have had a $200 Million payroll-2005 and 2008-2011-and they are the only team to ever have one. They of course won 1 World Series. Thus, teams with a $200 Million payroll have a 1 in 5 chance of winning the World Series.

Which, as others note, is way better odds than all teams in history without $200 million payrolls. Ahem.

OK, in all seriousness, Hal is right. You don’t need mondo payrolls to win it all. But you do need good, healthy baseball players. And the concern for the Yankees at the moment is that they don’t have enough of those. Payrolls, then, are sort of a red herring.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.