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MLB Power Rankings: Rating All 30 Teams Based on 2011 Payroll Efficiency

Ari KramerSenior Analyst IIOctober 27, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Rating All 30 Teams Based on 2011 Payroll Efficiency

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    Neither the Texas Rangers nor the St. Louis Cardinals—the two participants in the 2011 World Series, for those of you living inside a Bartolo Colon crevice of fat—boast a top 10 payroll.

    In fact, none of the top three payrolls advanced past the Division Series.

    Which team in MLB was the most efficient in 2011? For the purposes of this article, efficiency is defined by dollars spent per win.

    However, I also developed a simple points system with the intention of recognizing how effectively a team turned its payroll rank into success. Points are calculated by Wins + Payroll Rank (No. 1 payroll = 1 pt.; No. 30 payroll = 30 pts.) + 1 pt. per round of the playoffs (reaching playoffs is 1 pt., ALCS another, etc.).

    Let's call these points "A.F. Points" in honor of Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman.

    Payrolls were taken from here. Baseball Reference was also a source for stats and individual salaries.

30. New York Yankees

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    2011 Payroll: $202,689,028 (No. 1)

    2011 Wins: 97

    Dollars per Win: $2,089,578

    A.F. Points: 99 (No. 14)

    The New York Yankees are notorious for spending more than any other team. Contrary to common thought, though, their dollars don't produce as many wins as one would expect.

    No team paid more for a single win.

    If the Yankees used their payroll just as efficiently as Boston, team No. 29, they would have won 113 games.

29. Boston Red Sox

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    2011 Payroll: $161,762,475 (No. 3)

    2011 Wins: 90

    Dollars per Win: $1,797,361

    A.F. Points: 92 (No. 21)

    The Boston Red Sox paid Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew nearly $29 million to hit a combined .244 with 15 homers and 78 RBI. The organization also gave John Lackey $15.95 million—ample beer money—to post a 6.41 ERA over 160 innings.

28. Minnesota Twins

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    2011 Payroll: $112,737,000 (No. 9)

    2011 Wins: 63

    Dollars per Win: $1,789,476

    A.F. Points: 72 (No. 30)

    Efficiency, as the Minnesota Twins proved in 2011, is unachievable when your $15 million first baseman and $23 million catcher play a combined 151 games. 

27. Chicago Cubs

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    2011 Payroll: $125,047,329 (No. 6)

    2011 Wins: 71

    Dollars per Win: $1,761,230

    A.F. Points: 77 (No. 28)

    The Chicago Cubs struggled to a 71 win finish due, in large part, to underwhelming seasons from Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Pena, who combined to earn $42.5 million.

26. Philadelphia Phillies

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    2011 Payroll: $172,976,379 (No. 2)

    2011 Wins: 102

    Dollars per Win: $1,695,847

    A.F. Points: 105 (No. 7)

    The Philadelphia Phillies won more games than any other team in 2011, but they paid more per victory than 25 other franchises.

25. Chicago White Sox

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    2011 Payroll: $127,789,000 (No. 5)

    2011 Wins: 79

    Dollars per Win: $1,617,582

    A.F. Points: 84 (No. 26)

    The Chicago White Sox had the fifth highest payroll in MLB but only won 79 games. The club certainly didn't get its money's worth from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios or Jake Peavy, who received a combined $40.5 million.

24. Los Angeles Angels

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    2011 Payroll: $138,543,166 (No. 4)

    2011 Wins: 86

    Dollars per Win: $1,610,967

    A.F. Points: 90 (No. 22)

    The trio of Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, none of whom hit above .262 or more than 25 home runs, made $48.5 million in 2011.

23. New York Mets

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    2011 Payroll: $118,847,309 (No. 7)

    2011 Wins: 77

    Dollars per Win: $1,543,472

    A.F. Points: 85 (No. 25)

    The New York Mets shelled out $21.6 million to Johan Santana, who didn't pitch a single inning in 2011. Take him off the payroll, and the Mets were more efficient at about $1.3 million per win.

22. San Francisco Giants

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    2011 Payroll: $118,198,333 (No. 8)

    2011 Wins: 86

    Dollars per Win: $1,374,399

    A.F. Points: 94 (No. 19)

    The San Francisco Giants paid Barry Zito $18.5 million for three wins and 35 earned runs in 53.2 innings. If that's not disappointing enough, Aubrey Huff had an underwhelming season after signing a two year, $22 million deal last offseason.

21. Seattle Mariners

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    2011 Payroll: $86,524,600 (No. 16)

    2011 Wins: 67

    Dollars per Win: $1,291,412

    A.F. Points: 83 (No. 27)

    Ichiro Suzuki didn't play to the demands of his $18 million deal, reaching base at just a .310 clip.

    At $9.5 million, Chone Figgins was even more of a detriment to Seattle's efficiency. The former Angel hit .188 in 81 games.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2011 Payroll: $104,188,999 (No. 12)

    2011 Wins: 82

    Dollars per Win: $1,270,598

    A.F. Points: 94 (No. 19)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers paid $7.6 million to Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Not each—combined. Kemp posted MVP numbers, but he'll probably be punished in the voting for playing for an 82 win team. Kershaw could win the Cy Young award.

    If only every Dodger exceeded the demands of their contracts. Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Juan Rivera, Casey Blake and even Ted Lilly didn't play to the levels of their salaries.

19. Houston Astros

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    2011 Payroll: $70,694,000 (No. 20)

    2011 Wins: 56

    Dollars per Win: $1,262,393

    A.F. Points: 76 (No. 29)

    Houston's payroll ranked No. 20 in MLB, but the Astros received minimal production from their highest-paid players.

    Only five Astros—Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Clint Barmes and Humberto Quintero—earned over $1 million in 2011. Together, they comprised more than half of Houston's entire payroll.

    Lee, Barmes and Quintero hit a collective .258 with 32 home runs while Myers and Rodriguez won 18 games and posted a 4.00 ERA. 

18. Baltimore Orioles

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    2011 Payroll: $85,304,038 (No. 18)

    2011 Wins: 69

    Dollars per Win: $1,236,290

    A.F. Points: 87 (No. 23)

    You'd expect a team with an $85 million payroll to at least break 70 wins. The Orioles' roster was filled with players who didn't perform to the demands of their contracts.

17. Colorado Rockies

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    2011 Payroll: $88,148,071 (No. 14)

    2011 Wins: 73

    Dollars per Win: $1,207,508

    A.F. Points: 87 (No. 23)

    For every bargain like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, there's a bust—think Aaron Cook. Even Todd Helton isn't worth his $20 million contract.

16. St. Louis Cardinals

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    2011 Payroll: $105,433,572 (No. 11)

    2011 Wins: 90

    Dollars per Win: $1,171,484

    A.F. Points: 104 (No. 8)

    Of all teams exceeding $100 million in payroll, the St. Louis Cardinals reaped the second-most for their dollar.

    Sure, Rafael Furcal and Jake Westbrook deserved much less than their combined $18 million, but at the same time, David Freese, Jon Jay, Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte's salaries add up to less than $2 million.

15. Detroit Tigers

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    2011 Payroll: $105,700,231 (No. 10)

    2011 Wins: 95

    Dollars per Win: $1,112,634

    A.F. Points: 107 (No. 5)

    With the exceptions of Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, every Detroit Tiger played to the level of his contract—if not beyond.

14. Atlanta Braves

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    2011 Payroll: $87,002,692 (No. 15)

    2011 Wins: 89

    Dollars per Win: $977,558

    A.F. Points: 104 (No. 8)

    Atlanta was a few bad contracts—Derek Lowe, Scott Linebrink and Jack Wilson to name a few—from having one of the more efficient payrolls in baseball.

    At the same time, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Freddie Freeman and Brandon Beachy all individually earned less than $500k.

13. Texas Rangers

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    2011 Payroll: $92,299,264 (No. 13)

    2011 Wins: 96

    Dollars per Win: $961,451

    A.F. Points: 112 (No. 4)

    You can't really pinpoint a horrendously overpaid player on Texas' roster.

    Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Mitch Moreland all made less than $500k in 2011, and even the higher-paid Rangers like Michael Young and Adrian Beltre earned their money.

12. Cincinnati Reds

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    2011 Payroll: $75,947,134 (No. 19)

    2011 Wins: 79

    Dollars per Win: $961,356

    A.F. Points: 98 (No. 15)

    While the Cincinnati Reds are paying Joey Votto just $7.4 million, they can afford Bronson Arroyo's sub-par production for $7.7 million.

11. Oakland Athletics

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    2011 Payroll: $66,536,500 (No. 21)

    2011 Wins: 74

    Dollars per Win: $899,142

    A.F. Points: 95 (No. 18)

    Although David DeJesus and Brian Fuentes underperformed, Oakland won 74 games without paying a single player more than $6 million in 2011.

    Gio Gonzalez went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA for $420k.

10. Milwaukee Brewers

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    2011 Payroll: $85,497,333 (No. 17)

    2011 Wins: 96

    Dollars per Win: $890,597

    A.F. Points: 115 (No. 3)

    Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder accounting for $20 million? The Milwaukee Brewers can definitely live with that.

    Maybe Zack Greinke didn't deserve $13.5 million, but, regardless, no team with a higher payroll than the Brewers paid less per win.

9. Washington Nationals

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    2011 Payroll: $63,856,928 (No. 22)

    2011 Wins: 80

    Dollars per Win: $798,212

    A.F. Points: 102 (No. 11)

    Jayson Werth certainly didn't deserve $10.6 million in 2011, and even Ryan Zimmerman had an underwhelming, injury-plagued season.

    However, Washington still amassed 80 wins thanks to production from cheaper players like Mike Morse, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.

8. Florida Marlins

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    2011 Payroll: $56,944,000 (No. 24)

    2011 Wins: 72

    Dollars per Win: $790,889

    A.F. Points: 96 (No. 17)

    Florida only won 72 games, but at $11 million, Hanley Ramirez was the Marlins' highest-paid player. Maybe Ricky Nolasco, John Buck or Jose Lopez—who made a combined $14.6 million—inhibited the Marlins from achieving optimal efficiency, but No. 8 is respectable.

7. Toronto Blue Jays

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    2011 Payroll: $62,567,800 (No. 23)

    2011 Wins: 81

    Dollars per Win: $772,442

    A.F. Points: 104 (No. 8)

    Jose Bautista was the best all-around hitter in the AL, hitting .302 with 43 homers and a .447 on-base percentage. The Toronto Blue Jays paid their silver slugger $8 million—that calculates to $186,046.51 per home run.

6. San Diego Padres

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    2011 Payroll: $45,869,140 (No. 27)

    2011 Wins: 71

    Dollars per Win: $646,044

    A.F. Points: 98 (No. 14)

    Somehow the San Diego Padres won 71 games with an anemic offense, a decent rotation and a $45.9 million payroll. 

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2011 Payroll: $45,047,000 (No. 28)

    2011 Wins: 72

    Dollars per Win: $625,653

    A.F. Points: 100 (No. 13)

    Derrek Lee, Ryan Ludwick and Pedro Alvarez could have contributed more, but Pittsburgh still exceeded expectations as a team with a $45 million payroll.

4. Cleveland Indians

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    2011 Payroll: $49,190,566 (No. 26)

    2011 Wins: 80

    Dollars per Win: $614,882

    A.F. Points: 106 (No. 6)

    Cleveland won 80 games despite dedicating $24.6 million to Kosuke Fukudome, Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona.

    Asdrubal Cabrera, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Perez, Justin Masterson and Carlos Santana all produced for no more than $3 million each.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2011 Payroll: $53,639,833 (No. 25)

    2011 Wins: 94

    Dollars per Win: $570,637

    A.F. Points: 120 (No. 2)

    Arizona surprised the baseball world by winning 94 games with a $53.6 million payroll. Players like Ian Kennedy, Gerardo Parra, Ryan Roberts, Miguel Montero, J.J. Putz and Justin Upton all exceeded the expectations of their contracts.

2. Kansas City Royals

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    2011 Payroll: $36,126,000 (No. 30)

    2011 Wins: 71

    Dollars per Win: $508,817

    A.F. Points: 101 (No. 12)

    The Kansas City Royals produced 71 wins with baseball's cheapest payroll.

    Their lineup might have been baseball's best for its price. Billy Butler, Jeff Franceour, Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera combined to make $8.65 million—note: Eric Hosmer's salary isn't available on Baseball Reference or anywhere else on the web.

1. Tampa Bay Rays

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    2011 Payroll: $41,053,571 (No. 29)

    2011 Wins: 91

    Dollars per Win: $451,138

    A.F. Points: 121 (No. 1)

    Without Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and others, the Tampa Bay payroll dipped from $71 million all the way to $41 million. The Rays still mustered 91 wins, earning the AL Wild Card in the season's final seconds.

    James Shields, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson—the team's top three starting pitchers—accounted for less than $7 million while Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce made about $12.5 million.

Andrew Friedman Points

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    For those of you interested, here are the A.F. point rankings:

    1. Tampa Bay Rays, 121 pts.

    2. Arizona Diamondbacks, 120 pts.

    3. Milwaukee Brewers, 115 pts.

    4. Texas Rangers, 112 pts.

    5. Detroit Tigers, 107 pts.

    6. Cleveland Indians, 106 pts.

    7. Philadelphia Phillies, 105 pts.

    8. St. Louis Cardinals, 104 pts.

    8. Toronto Blue Jays, 104 pts.

    8. Atlanta Braves, 104 pts.

    11. Washington Nationals, 102 pts.

    12. Kansas City Royals, 101 pts.

    13. Pittsburgh Pirates, 100 pts.

    14. New York Yankees, 99 pts.

    15. San Diego Padres, 98 pts.

    15. Cincinnati Reds, 98 pts.

    17. Florida Marlins, 96 pts.

    18. Oakland Athletics, 95 pts.

    19. Los Angeles Dodgers, 94 pts.

    19. San Francisco Giants, 94 pts.

    21. Boston Red Sox, 92 pts.

    22. Los Angeles Angels, 90 pts.

    23. Colorado Rockies, 87 pts.

    23. Baltimore Orioles, 87 pts. 

    25. New York Mets, 85 pts.

    26. Chicago White Sox, 84 pts.

    27. Seattle Mariners, 83 pts.

    28. Chicago Cubs, 77 pts.

    29. Houston Astros, 76 pts.

    30. Minnesota Twins, 72 pts.

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