The Atlanta Braves have the 16th-highest payroll in baseball at $82.41 million. Although they fall close to the median MLB team payroll, they are actually about $13 million below the league average payroll of $95.51. Liberty Media pays roughly $114 million less to field their team than the Steinbrenner family, who have a payroll just a hair under $196 million (as usual, the highest in baseball).
But the Braves have been remarkably successful at turning their modest payroll into victories on the field. At 62-46, only the Nationals and the Reds have won more games with less money than the Braves. They have paid just $1.32 million per win in 2012 (the Reds' $1.15 million per win is the best in baseball).
Comparatively, the Phillies—who currently sit 13 games behind the Braves in the NL East—were paying $3.54 million per win, the most in baseball, before their recent fire sale cleared a large chunk of payroll. The once-mighty Phils now have the second-highest payroll in baseball, one of only three teams in the top 10 MLB payrolls to have a losing record (the others? Miami and Milwaukee).
The major reason for the Braves' ability to get a lot for a little, as you will see, is their crop of young talent that has given the team a huge boost for a relatively modest paycheck. The Braves will have some tough decisions to make next year as some of their biggest contributors become arbitration eligible and will need to be paid according to their contributions on the field.
For now, however, there's nothing to do but enjoy the arms and bats that the Braves are getting on the cheap in 2012. Read on to find out the five most underpaid members of the 2012 Atlanta Braves.
Player stats are courtesy of Fangraphs.