I made a rough graph in Excel and the result is above. By itself, it is not all that telling, so I'll narrate: The blue dots represents each team (lined up on the bottom) and their payroll as a percentage of the top payroll in the league, the Yankees ($209 Million). The red dots are winning percentages as of Thursday night.
That's right kids, No correlation! Zippo! You want an even crazier stat? The top four teams in payroll—New York Yankees, Detroit, New York Mets, and Boston—have an average winning percentage of .484, or about 19-21. The bottom four—Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Florida—have an average of .549 - about 22-18. Yep. Three games back.
Yes, I know I'm using Detroit's 16-25 record to my statistical advantage. But isn't it interesting that among the top four teams, NONE of them are in first place? Heck, two of them are in last. How about the fact that two of the bottom four are in first in their respective divisions—not to mention Oakland, who are just half a game behind Anaheim? Does that statistic make it any more clear?
Barry Zito is a great example of how money is being squandered away by rich ballclubs that don't know what they seem to be getting. There's nothing like making eight figures a year and sitting in the bullpen every day (he has since returned to the rotation, of course). Or even Johan Santana, who until last week did not have a home win.
What a great sport baseball is. I can tell money affects performance so much.