These days, the correlation between payroll and winning is historically weak

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It has been repeated so often that it has turned into a religion more than anything else: rich teams can buy their way into contention, poor teams cannot. Books have been written under that assumption. A swath of people who claim they were baseball fans have cited it as a reason for tuning out the game. Those rich teams like the Red Sox and Yankees have an unfair advantage, the story goes, and the other teams have no shot, it is claimed. Baseball needs a salary cap or something!

Except, even if there was some truth to that ten or fifteen years ago, it’s certainly not the case now. Today Brian MacPherson Providence Journal tells us just how un-true that is. He has run the payroll numbers against the W-L records and has found that a list of teams in alphabetical order has greater predictive power of team success than does a list of team payrolls from highest to lowest:

Ten years ago, by correlation calculations, a team’s payroll accounted for around 25 percent of its success . . . By correlation statistics, payroll accounts for barely more than four percent of teams’ success now.

The correlation coefficient between payroll and wins this season (0.202) is even smaller than the correlation between the standings and the first letters of the cities in which teams play (0.24). In other words, you’d have a slightly better chance of predicting playoff participants simply by using alphabetical order than by using payroll numbers.

There are a lot of reasons for this, many of which we’ve talked about around these parts for years. Smarter front offices, locking young players up to long term deals before they get too expensive. More overall money available to smaller revenue teams due to TV deals and the like. Changes to the draft and international free-agent signings. The reduction of PEDs in the game which means fewer older guys (i.e. the guys who can be acquired via free agency) making impacts.

I doubt this will change the mindless talking points of the baseball bashers. They’ll still auto-pilot on “baseball needs a salary cap” talk next winter when big free agents sign someplace. Or they’ll just change their complaints, moving from “The Yankees and Red Sox win it all the time because they’re rich!” to “No one can get excited about baseball now that marquee teams like the Yankees and Red Sox stink! Who wants to watch a Royals-Brewers World Series anyway?”

But the cool thing about facts is that they remain facts even if idiots ignore them. And the fact is, baseball has a far more level playing field now than it has had in a long time.

Brandon Nimmo has reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances

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After singling in the second inning of the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Phillies, Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo has reached base safely in 10 consecutive plate appearances. He reached base in all six plate appearances on Wednesday versus the Orioles, going 5-for-5 with two singles, two doubles, a triple, and a hit-by-pitch. Nimmo also reached base in his final three plate appearances on Tuesday against the Orioles, drawing a walk along with a single and a triple.

The record for consecutive plate appearances reaching base is 17, held by Earl Averill, Jr. (1962, Angels) and Piggy Ward (1893, Orioles/Reds).

Likely due to the Mets irrelevance this season, Nimmo has flown under the radar. After Thursday’s single, he’s hitting .265/.388/.504 with 15 home runs, 39 RBI, 65 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 412 plate appearances. Nimmo is by far the Mets’ best position player, accuring 3.3 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Todd Frazier and Michael Conforto are far behind at 1.7 and 1.5, respectively.

Update (5:00 PM ET): Nimmo got jammed when he grounded out to end the top of the third inning and left the game. Jose Bautista took his place in left field.