MLB's 'Moneyball' Power Rankings: Who Is Overpaying/Underpaying the Most?

Doug MeadCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2013

MLB's 'Moneyball' Power Rankings: Who Is Overpaying/Underpaying the Most?

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    As the 2013 season gets set to start in Major League Baseball, more so than ever, value is meaningful.

    Luxury taxes threaten to take money away from big-market teams. Smaller market teams are faced with budgetary constraints, forcing them to make much more prudent decisions with regard to payroll.

    As has been evidenced in the past, spending doesn't always equate to winning. The Oakland A's had the second-lowest payroll in baseball last season, yet they captured the AL West Division title.

    In fact, according to USA Today, six of the 10 playoff teams last season were in the bottom half of the list of MLB salaries by team.

    With the right planning and development, it doesn't take $100 million to send a team to the postseason.

    Here is a breakdown of each team's ranking in terms of overpaying or underpaying. The criteria will be somewhat crude, but for the purposes of this presentation it works.

    Each team's projected 2013 payroll will be one determining factor. An estimate of each team's 2013 record, presented in an article published earlier this month, will also be a factor. Those factors will determine the average cost per win (CPW) for each team.

    For comparison purposes, each team's 2012 CPW ranking for the 2012 season will be listed as well, serving as a barometer of how each team either effectively or poorly managed their resources during the offseason.

    Let's take a look.

     

    Note: Salary projections and 2012 CPW figures courtesy of Spotrac.com. An additional $5 million has been added for each team to cover 2013 salaries of pre-arbitration players.

30. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 14

    The Los Angeles Dodgers more than doubled their CPW from year-to-year. Considering they spent well over $500 million since last July, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

    It was obvious that the Dodgers weren't concerned with the massive amounts of cash being given out to their stars. Team president Stan Kasten even said as much last December.

    However, even with the exorbitant costs, the Dodgers will be in a fight to make the postseason. Considering they'll have the highest team payroll in MLB history, anything less than a pennant would be a colossal disappointment.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win

    Difference

    238,331,000 90 $2,648,122    $1,106,321

     $1,541,801

29. New York Yankees

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 28

    New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner keeps saying he's keen on dropping payroll below the luxury tax threshold by next year. However, their current rate suggests otherwise.

    There will be several large contracts coming off the books at the end of the season (Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda, Robinson Cano), but for this year their cost of doing business remains high.

    With payroll actually increasing by approximately $17 million, it will cost the Yankees an extra $300K per game to win five less games than last season.

    Now that's inflation.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win

    Difference

    214,185,000 90 $2,379,833
       $2,083,814

     $296,019

28. Boston Red Sox

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 30

    The Boston Red Sox have at least come out of the cellar in terms of CPW.

    Courtesy of their expansive payroll and only 68 wins last year, that's where the Red Sox found themselves. This year, they may not quite get to the .500 mark, but they'll spend almost a half-million dollars less per win in the process.

    They can at least look to the fact that they don't have hundreds of millions of dollars locked up in contracts for the foreseeable future. There is flexibility, but the flexibility won't help them this season in their fight to win the AL East Division.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win

      Difference

    155,642,000 76 $2,047,921  $2,509,951 ($462,030)

27. Philadelphia Phillies

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 29

    The Philadelphia Phillies represent the first team on this list paying under $2 million per win.

    That number could have been significantly higher, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did a masterful job in reshaping his roster without adding payroll. In fact, payroll this season will be less than 2012, and the Phillies are spending considerably less per win as well.

    Amaro's shrewd trade that brought over center fielder Ben Revere was a huge plus. Amaro plugged a major hole with a young productive player under team control for several more seasons. Getting the Texas Rangers to pony up $10 million of third baseman Michael Young's 2013 contract alleviated a huge financial burden as well.

    Still, the Phillies have four players making over $20 million, so the overpaying of the past is still haunting them today.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    159,742,000 87 $1,836,115 $2,154,802

    ($318,687)

26. Detroit Tigers

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 25

    The Detroit Tigers have not only become one of the elite teams in the majors, they've also become one of biggest spending teams as well.

    With three players over the $20 million threshold, the Tigers will have the sixth-highest payroll in baseball. Their CPW didn't increase as dramatically as other teams on this list, but each victory will be costly for them nonetheless.

    Wait until they have to re-sign Justin Verlander.

    Ouch.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    153,275,000 94 $1,630,585  
       $1,503,409

      $127,176

25. Los Angeles Angels

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 27

    Fortunately for the Los Angeles Angels, their cost of doing business will actually drop this season.

    Each win for the Angels in 2013 will cost about 6.5 percent less than last season. Because of escalating contracts for Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, however, the Angels will have to be prudent with future spending.

    Especially if they plan on keeping Mike Trout for the long haul.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    156,274,000 96 $1,627,854 $1,735,788

    ($107,934)

24. San Francisco Giants

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 19

    The San Francisco Giants return to defend their World Series title with a team largely intact.

    However, it will cost them considerably more money to achieve that goal.

    Three-fifths of their starting rotation—Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito—make up roughly 44 percent of team payroll. Considerable raises for Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Angel Pagan take a bite out of the bottom line as well.

    But if the Giants win their third World Series championship in four seasons, they won't much care.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win

       Difference

    142,775,000 92   $1,551,902  $1,251,284

    $300,618

23. Chicago White Sox

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 15

    The Chicago White Sox were in the middle of the pack last season in terms of CPW. With payroll increasing and their projected win total dropping, they will not be nearly as economical in 2013.

    Jeff Keppinger represented the biggest expenditure the White Sox made outside of the organization.

    But with payroll increasing over the $100 million mark and a projected drop in wins, the White Sox now find themselves moving into the overpaid bracket.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win   Difference
    122,750,000 80   $1,534,375   $1,140,229

      $394,146

22. Texas Rangers

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 22

    The Texas Rangers will be minus the services of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young in 2013, but they won't be realizing any savings on the bottom line.

    Newcomers A.J. Pierzysnki and Lance Berkman will make $17 million between them, and right fielder Nelson Cruz more than doubles his 2012 salary as well.

    Texas still pays Young $10 million to play for the Philadelphia Phillies this season. With a heated race in the AL West expected, wins will be much harder to come by.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    122,975,000 83  $1,481,627 $1,295,817

    $185,810

21. Toronto Blue Jays

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 11

    With the massive rebuild of their roster this offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays dramatically increased their CPW over last season.

    The additions of Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio certainly put a dent in ownership's pocket.

    But considering they're now one of the leading contenders for a World Series berth, that increase won't be nearly as painful if they can bring a championship north of the border for the first time in 20 years.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per  Win   Difference
    131,418,000 95   $1,383,347  $1,034,099

    $349,248

20. New York Mets

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 21

    While payroll for the New York Mets drops in 2013, so too do their postseason expectations.

    General manager Sandy Alderson went out and added starting pitcher Shawn Marcum and relief pitcher Brandon Lyon. However, the Mets also still have $19.3 million on the books for payouts to Jason Bay and Bobby Bonilla.

    The loss of R.A. Dickey and an young, unproven outfield won't help their chances much this season. A lower projected win total doesn't help their bottom line, either.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    89,368,000 66   $1,354,061 $1,261,540

    $92,521

19. St. Louis Cardinals

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 20

    The St. Louis Cardinals only slightly improve over last year's CPW, but it's hard to fault their approach.

    After losing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals made it to within one game of the World Series last season. Making very few moves this offseason, St. Louis will once again be in the mix in the NL Central Division.

    Being a team that contends each year for a postseason berth does have its financial advantages. Having a loyal fanbase that regularly sends home attendance above the three-million mark each year certainly helps the bottom line as well.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    115,400,000 86  $1,341,860 $1,253,419

    $88,441

18. Colorado Rockies

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 18

    The Colorado Rockies see no change in their CPW as payroll drops a few million from last year's total.

    But so too does their expected win total.

    The Rockies go back to a conventional five-man rotation in 2013, but they come back with the same pitching staff that underperformed last year.

    The Rockies made virtually no changes to a team that won just 64 games last season. They'll be challenged in 2013 to stay away from setting a franchise record for losses for a second straight season.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    73,989,000 60   $1,233,150   $1,219,837

      $13,313

17. Washington Nationals

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 5

    The Washington Nationals lost their position as one of the best teams in terms of CPW.

    But with their success last year and increased chances of reaching the World Series this year, Nationals owner Mark Lerner won't mind feeling the pinch.

    The Nationals added Rafael Soriano, Dan Haren and Denard Span to the mix this season. While the increase in payroll is dramatic at roughly 33 percent, the gains made could easily help offset the expense.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    118,297,000 98  $1,207,112 $829,961

    $377,151

16. Cincinnati Reds

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 7

    Courtesy of a terrific 2012 season, the Cincinnati Reds enjoyed a status as one of baseball's better teams in terms of managing resources with efficiency.

    Hefty raises for Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto combined with the addition of Shin-Soo Choo raises team payroll significantly.

    While the cost of doing business rises, so too do expectations. Another 97-win season would be nice, but with competition heating up in the National League that figure may be a bit more difficult to reach in 2013.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    107,300,000 92   $1,166,304
     $847,460

      $318,844

15. Seattle Mariners

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 12

    The Seattle Mariners brought in several pieces with the intent of bolstering their anemic offense.

    Kudos to general manager Jack Zduriencik for his efforts in upgrading his offense in a financially efficient manner. The additions of Michael Morse, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales only added an additional $16 million.

    However, it likely still isn't enough to compete with the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's and Texas Rangers in the AL West.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    86,978,100 75    $1,159,708   $1,093,041

      $66,667

14. Baltimore Orioles

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 8

    The Baltimore Orioles surprised just about everyone last year with their 93-win season.

    They won't be sneaking up on anyone in 2013, however.

    Very few changes were made by the O's this offseason. In a division that once again promises to be competitive, the O's will find wins harder to come by and by extension see their CPW rise dramatically in the process.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    93,695,000 83    $1,128,855
     $875,581

      $253,274

13. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 10

    Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers earned his nickname this winter.

    Towers, aka The Gunslinger, left no stone unturned in his quest to improve his roster. However, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants coming back with stacked rosters, the Diamondbacks will be challenged to match last year's win total.

    Towers managed his resources in a fairly efficient manner, but the bottom-line results won't reflect his efforts if the Diamondbacks fail to reach the postseason.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win   Difference
    87,990,000 78    $1,128,077 $917,097

    $210,980

12. Minnesota Twins

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 23

    The Minnesota Twins dramatically decreased their CPW, but it won't help their win total much in 2013.

    The Twins avoided major free-agent signings, preferring to upgrade their woeful starting rotation via trades and lower impact signings. Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden will try to help out in that regard.

    While being prudent with their resources, it won't give the Twins much of a chance in the AL Central Division.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    72,550,000 68  $1,066,912 $1,425,530

    ($358,618)

11. Chicago Cubs

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 24

    The Chicago Cubs are finally on their way to solid financial footing. And they'll likely make some progress on the field as well.

    President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has stuck to his plan of developing from within and making prudent free-agent signings. The efforts will show on the bottom line and make for a more entertaining product between the lines as well.

    It's tough to tell Cubs fans to stay patient, considering they've been waiting for 104 years now.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    104,319,000 68   $1,534,103 $1,445,853 $88,250

10. Cleveland Indians

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 16

    Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti was active this offseason, bringing in several key pieces via trade and free agency.

    He also did it efficiently. The additions of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn represented big price tags, but both should be able to contribute significantly throughout the duration of their contracts.

    While the Indians will still have trouble getting by the Detroit Tigers and competing with the improved Kansas City Royals, there's definitely hope in Cleveland for the first time in years.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    80,947,000 77
      $1,051,260   $1,153,387

     ($102,127)

9. Milwaukee Brewers

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 17

    The Milwaukee Brewers lost Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum and Fernando Rodriguez, representing a significant savings in payroll.

    Owner Mark Attanasio made the decision to decrease his payroll for the 2013 season, citing losses at the gate and a paltry local TV contract as the primary reasons.

    As a result, the Brewers will compete in the upcoming season with a rotation big on promise but lacking in experience. They'll also continue relying on an offense that ranked second in the National League in runs scored.

    However, while Milwaukee will improve their CPW, they'll be challenged to compete with St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the NL Central Division.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    77,528,000 75   $1,033,707   $1,176,554

      ($142,847)

8. Atlanta Braves

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 9

    The Atlanta Braves will feature a dynamic young outfield in 2013 with the addition of the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J.

    They'll also return a solid starting rotation and the best bullpen in the majors, and they're doing it with a payroll that increased minimally from last season.

    The Braves promise to get plenty of bang for their buck in 2013.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    87,558,000 92 $951,717 $886,276

    $65,441

7. Kansas City Royals

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 6

    The Kansas City Royals only lose one spot in the CPW rankings while drastically improving their roster for the 2013 season.

    James Shields, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie were acquired to bolster a staggering starting rotation. Owner David Glass certainly followed through on his promise to spend money.

    While payroll dramatically increases for the Royals, so too do their chances of winning quite a few more games and competing for a postseason berth.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    78,890,000 84   $939,167   $846,059

       $93,108

6. San Diego Padres

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 3

    Many fans of the San Diego Padres expected to see quite a bit of activity this past offseason as their team ushered in an era of new ownership.

    However, their silence this offseason was deafening.

    The Padres' payroll will increase courtesy of raises for closer Huston Street, outfielder Carlos Quentin and third baseman Chase Headley.

    But their inactivity this winter did them no favors as the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks all worked to bolster their rosters in the NL West Division.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    66,848,000 75 $891,307 $726,904

    $164,403

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 4

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drop out of the top five, but they have become a team that not only manages resources effectively but works to field an entertaining product as well.

    A team that has consistently had the lowest payroll in years is finally making use of its farm system and acquiring players that complement their roster.

    While they may fall short of the playoffs in 2013, the Pirates should finally see an end to their 20-year run of consecutive losing seasons.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    61,150,000 83  $736,747 $802,937

    ($66,190)

4. Tampa Bay Rays

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 2

    The Tampa Bay Rays, much like the Pittsburgh Pirates, have sported one of the lowest team payrolls in the majors for many years.

    But vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is an absolute master at constructing a roster filled with homegrown talent and finding diamonds in the rough from the scrapheap (Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit).

    The Rays may have some issues offensively this season, but they will once again be a contender in the AL East despite limited resources.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    62,978,000 87 $723,885 $713,039

    $10,846

3. Oakland Athletics

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 1

    The Oakland A's, the original Moneyball team, are easily the top team in terms of managing resources and putting a quality product on the field.

    The two teams ahead of the A's on this list may have a lower overall CPW, but neither of them will be fielding a team worth watching in 2013.

    The A's, on the other hand, remain contenders in the AL West Division. Shrewd deals pulled off by Billy Beane last offseason certainly paid off, and his wheeling and dealing this winter could help pay huge dividends as well.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    61,375,000 91  $674,451  $589,069

    $85,382

2. Miami Marlins

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 26

    The Miami Marlins are only second on this list because of the worst front-office management in all of baseball.

    Not only will the product on the field resemble a Double-A or Triple-A team, they once again anger a fanbase with broken promises.

    Former Marlin Jose Reyes said last week that owner Jeffrey Loria encouraged him to purchase a home in the Miami area. Just days later, he was traded to Toronto.

    While the Marlins' CPW is dramatically lower, so too are fans' hopes that the Marlins will ever be competitive as long as Loria and Co. remain in charge.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    38,000,000 58   $655,172   $1,711,275

     ($1,056,103)

1. Houston Astros

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    2012 CPW Rank: No. 13

    The Houston Astros top this list, and while the finished product for the upcoming season promises to be woeful, there is finally some hope with a revitalized farm system.

    The Astros suffered for years with a minor-league system that was woefully inadequate. However, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America, they now have the 10th-best farm system in the majors.

    Trades and solid drafting have served the Astros well for the future. While it will take a few years for that talent to reach the major-league level, the Astros are on the right path.

    Unfortunately, fans will have to suffer as the Astros are likely to get pummeled on the field in 2013.

    2013 Est. Payroll  2013 Projected Wins 2013 Projected Cost Per Win 2012 Cost Per Win    Difference
    30,000,000 51 $588,235 $1,102,745

    ($514,510)

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.