Forbes Magazine MLB Franchise Values: Are Projected Values Too High or Too Low?

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2012

Forbes Magazine MLB Franchise Values: Are Projected Values Too High or Too Low?

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    Forbes magazine recently released its list of MLB franchise values heading into the 2012 season. Team finances are private, so this list is one of the best estimates of the worth of each franchise.

    There are a number of aspects that go into the Forbes rankings, but there may have been a few things that they missed for each team.

    In this article, I am ranking the value of each franchise with a number of additional aspects that go beyond the financials.

    These include the value of a team's on-the-field talent and off-the-field factors such as a team's fanbase. Some other elements that impact the values are a team's location, farm system and ability to compete. 

    After analyzing each team's value with these additional guidelines, I determine whether Forbes' projected values are too high, too low or about right. 

     

    Note: These numbers do not reflect what the teams would actually sell for.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Forbes value: $447 million

    Forbes rank: 23

    Last season the Arizona Diamondbacks took home the National League West crown, and they improved their team this winter.

    The recent success that the Diamondbacks have had should continue to grow the franchise's fanbase and increase their value.

    Projected value: Too low 

Atlanta Braves

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    Forbes value: $508 million

    Forbes rank: 15

    The Atlanta Braves knew that Chipper Jones was going to eventually retire, and he announced that this will be his last year. Losing Jones after the year hurts the team's value moving forward because he is such an iconic figure.

    Atlanta has a very solid following and a number of good young pitchers in the minors though, which boosts their value here over their Forbes value.

    Projected value: Too low 

Baltimore Orioles

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    Forbes value: $460 million

    Forbes rank: 19

    When the Washington Nationals came to D.C., the value of the Baltimore Orioles took a bit of a hit. The Orioles' struggles in the past few years have hurt their value in these rankings as well. 

    While there is some young talent in Baltimore, the team's future does not look too bright, as they are still far away from competing against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

    Projected value: Too high 

Boston Red Sox

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    Forbes value: $1 billion

    Forbes rank: 3

    After a tough season in 2011, the Boston Red Sox are looking to try to rebound in 2012. The team is dealing with a number of injuries this year.

    As a result of these injuries, there is a bit of uncertainty about the Red Sox heading into the season. In our analysis, that is one thing that brings down their value a bit.

    Projected value: Too high 

Chicago Cubs

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    Forbes value: $879 million

    Forbes rank: 4

    The Curse of the Billy Goat not only hurts the Chicago Cubs on the field, but it also hurts them in terms of our valuation.

    This group of "Lovable Losers" will likely not be competitive in 2012, and that hurts their value. The team may get better in the future, but don't expect a World Series title anytime soon, because it is the Cubs we are talking about.

    Projected value: Too high 

Chicago White Sox

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    Forbes value: $600 million

    Forbes rank: 10

    One of the reasons why the Chicago White Sox are so high up on the Forbes rankings is because they play in one of the biggest media markets in the United States.

    That will only help so much here. Chicago's value drops in our rankings because of the fact that they will be in a bit of a rebuilding mode.

    Projected value: Too high

Cincinnati Reds

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    Forbes value: $424 million

    Forbes rank: 24

    There were a number of huge changes in the National League Central this winter, and they all favored the Cincinnati Reds.

    Joey Votto and the Reds might be the favorites for the NL Central this year, and they could make a run in the playoffs. The team has a nice mix of young players and veterans, which puts them in a position to succeed now and in the future.

    Projected value: Too low

Cleveland Indians

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    Forbes value: $410 million

    Forbes rank: 26

    Even though the Cleveland Indians finished in second place in the American League Central last season, they were still two games under .500.

    The team traded away two of its top prospects in order to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez, which hurts their value a bit since Jimenez has not looked like an ace in Cleveland. The team's value also takes a hit because of the Fausto Carmona controversy.

    Projected value: Too high

Colorado Rockies

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    Forbes value: $464 million

    Forbes rank: 19

    After making the playoffs in 2009, the Colorado Rockies have not reached the postseason during the past two seasons, despite having a lot of talent.

    Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are both superstars and the two key pieces of the Rockies. With Tebowmania now out of Denver, maybe the Rockies can get more attention this year.

    Projected value: About right 

Detroit Tigers

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    Forbes value: $478 million

    Forbes rank: 17

    The Detroit Tigers make one of the biggest jumps between the Forbes rankings and our rankings.

    There are a few reasons for this. The team has an owner, Mike Illitch, who is willing to spend as much as it takes to win. Detroit is one of the favorites in the American League after adding Prince Fielder this year.

    Projected value: Way too low 

Houston Astros

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    Forbes value: $549 million

    Forbes rank: 13

    There are not many positives for the Houston Astros right now. The franchise does not look like it will compete for a long time.

    They are also going to be moving to the American League West in 2013, which means that they will have a new division to struggle in.

    Projected value: Too high 

Kansas City Royals

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    Forbes value: $354 million

    Forbes ranking: 27

    The Kansas City Royals are one of the teams that get a bit of a bump in our set of rankings. This comes from the amount of young talent that they have in the major leagues.

    It should not be long before the Royals are a competitive team. Their value should grow as their young players age and improve.

    Projected value: Too low

     

     


Los Angeles Angels

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    Forbes value: $656 million

    Forbes rank: 8

    There were two major changes the Los Angeles Angels made this offseason that made their value skyrocket in our eyes.

    The team added both C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. These moves will add to the history of the franchise and will likely bring home a World Series title or two.

    Projected value: Way too low 

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Forbes value: $1.4 billion

    Forbes rank: 2

    While the Los Angeles Dodgers are the second most valuable team in the Forbes rankings, they are lucky to crack the top 10 on this list. Their value makes sense considering what it is based on. However, our list takes a number of different things into account.

    The team does have NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, but the rest of their roster is not as impressive. Los Angeles may not contend for a while, and that hurts them here—not to mention the McCourt divorce and bankruptcy saga, as well as the team's weak farm system.

    Projected value: Way too high

Miami Marlins

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    Forbes value: $440 Million

    Forbes rank: 21

    Few teams made as many improvements as the Miami Marlins did this winter. In addition to bringing in Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, they also finally moved into a baseball-specific stadium.

    That led to a big jump in their value, according to Forbes. There is the potential for the Marlins' value to grow even more, but their fanbase actually needs to start showing up to games instead of watching them at home on TV.

    Projected value: Too low

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Forbes value: $448 million

    Forbes rank: 22

    The value of the Milwaukee Brewers would have been higher on this list if not for the Ryan Braun PED controversy. That negative image had an impact on the entire franchise.

    Milwaukee is the reigning National League Central champion, and that helps in this valuation. There is also an incredibly loyal Brewers fanbase, which adds value.

    Projected value: Too low 

Minnesota Twins

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    Forbes value: $510 million

    Forbes ranking: 14

    The Minnesota Twins may be in for another long season in 2012. It is unknown what the team will be able to get out of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

    One of the advantages that the Twins have over a number of teams is that they have a brand-new stadium that has been a nice draw to fans. 

    Projected value: Too high 

New York Mets

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    Forbes value: $719 million

    Forbes rank: 6

    Playing in New York City, arguably the biggest media market in the entire world, is a huge boon to the New York Mets' value. Unfortunately for them, it does not help them that much in our rankings.

    The Mets' value takes a hit of more than $100 million in our list because of the team's debt, their recently settled lawsuit involving Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme and the fact that they could finish in last place in the NL East.

    Projected value: Too high 

New York Yankees

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    Forbes value: $1.85 billion

    Forbes rank: 1

    In most cases, history cannot be bought. However, if someone was able to purchase the New York Yankees, they would inherit an incredible past.

    The Yankees' storied history does wonders for their actual value. They are the most recognizable baseball team throughout the world, and the value of the franchise is immense.

    Projected value: About right

Oakland Athletics

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    Forbes value: $321 million

    Forbes rank: 30

    One of the things to consider when valuing a company is its present value of future growth opportunities. The Oakland Athletics add a lot of value here with the possibility of their move to San Jose.

    Billy Beane also is an important piece of the Athletics franchise. He has found a way to take advantage of undervalued assets in the past, and he has been able to sell high when assets are overvalued. A shrewd mind like this has significant value.

    Projected value: Too low

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Forbes value: $723 million

    Forbes rank: 5

    It is clear that the Philadelphia Phillies have been the class of the National League East for the past few seasons, as they have been one of the best teams in all of baseball.

    While the Phillies do have some injury issues to worry about, they could have another 100-win season this year. They also play in a huge media market and have some incredibly loyal fans.

    Projected value: Too low 

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Forbes value: $336 million

    Forbes rank: 28

    The Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since 1992, and it is a known fact that no one likes losers. This takes a pretty big chunk out of the team's value.

    Additionally, the Pirates are the third most popular sports franchise in the city of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins run the city for now. 

    Projected value: Too high 


San Diego Padres

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    Forbes value: $458 million

    Forbes rank: 20

    The San Diego Padres traded away one of their biggest draws when they dealt Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds. A lot of their talent is young and still needs to develop.

    Padres fans will be in for a long season this year, as the team will likely continue to struggle this season. They have trouble bringing in big-name free agents, which hurts their value.

    Projected value: Too high

San Francisco Giants

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    Forbes value: $643 million

    Forbes rank: 9

    Just two years ago, the San Francisco Giants were World Series champions. That is certainly something that helps with their value.

    The Giants also have three of the best starting pitchers in the majors in Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. That trio, in addition to Buster Posey, provides the team with a lot of value.

    Estimated actual value: Too low 

Seattle Mariners

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    Forbes value: $585 million

    Forbes rank: 12

    In real life, the Seattle Mariners are one of the more valuable franchises in baseball. There are a number of reasons for this, including the popularity of Ichiro Suzuki and the team's hold on the Pacific Northwest.

    However, in these rankings, the Mariners' uncertain future moving forward, as well as their struggles in the AL West, take a chunk out of their value.

    Projected value: Too high 

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Forbes value: $591 million

    Forbes rank: 11

    Losing Albert Pujols was a huge loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. It gets rid of a bit of their national appeal, and the team certainly is not as good moving forward.

    With that being said, the Cardinals are still the defending world champion, which is good for their value in the short run.

    Projected value: About right

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Forbes value: $323 Million

    Forbes rank: 29

    The Tampa Bay Rays don't have a great TV deal, need to get a new stadium and struggle to get their fans into their existing stadium. Why exactly do we have the team's value so much higher than their Forbes value?

    Tampa Bay has been able to prove that they can compete with the big boys in the AL East. They have been a perennial playoff contender over the past few years, and they have done an incredible job at developing prospects. These trends should continue moving forward. 

    Projected value: Way too low 

Texas Rangers

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    Forbes value: $679 million

    Forbes rank: 7

    Two straight trips to the World Series, especially in this day and age, is an incredibly impressive feat and is something that the Texas Rangers have been able to pull off.

    Until the team is usurped as the king of the American League, the Rangers will remain as one of the most valuable teams in our rankings. The fact that the Houston Astros will have a few down years means that the Rangers can also exert more dominance over the state of Texas.

    The team also has an added boost from all of their new fans from the Yu Darvish signing. 

    Projected value: Way too low

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Forbes value: $413 million

    Forbes rank: 25

    The Toronto Blue Jays have a huge fanbase in Canada, but they do not always get great showings at the Rogers Center.

    There are a number of exciting players in Toronto, including Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero. They can help the Blue Jays' value increase if they perform well enough to have their team compete in the AL East.

    Projected value: About right

Washington Nationals

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    Forbes value: $480 million

    Forbes rank: 16

    There are two fairly obvious reasons that the Washington Nationals are worth so much more than their Forbes value in our list. They are Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. These two are some of the most enticing young stars in baseball.

    The Nationals have only been in Washington since 2005, and they are still building a strong following there. As soon as they have success, their popularity and their value should explode.

    Projected value: Too low