CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

No Previous Article
No Next Article

March 16, 2004

Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins

1980-1984

by Doug Pappas

Continuing his series on the top teams in terms of marginal dollars spent per marginal win, Doug Pappas today examines the 1980 to 1984 seasons. Click here to read the introduction to this series and the 1977 to 1979 seasons. For a breakdown of the 1995 to 2003 seasons, pick up a copy of the best-selling Baseball Prospectus 2004. Stay tuned for more installments, coming soon.

Table 4. Marginal Payroll/Marginal Win, 1980


Team          W   L    Pct   Marg   8/31       Marg        Marg $/
                             Wins   Average    Payroll     Marg Win
Baltimore  100  62   0.617   51.4   $116,156   $2,412,368   $46,933
Boston      83  77   0.519   35.4   $184,686   $4,331,208  $122,221
Cleveland   79  81   0.494   31.4   $127,505   $2,730,140   $86,982
Detroit     84  78   0.519   35.4    $86,988   $1,595,664   $45,075
Milwaukee   86  76   0.531   37.4   $159,086   $3,614,408   $96,642
NY Yankees 103  59   0.636   54.4   $242,937   $5,962,236  $109,600
Toronto     67  95   0.414   18.4    $67,218   $1,042,104   $56,636

California  65  95   0.406   17.2   $191,014   $4,508,392  $261,925
Chi WSox    70  90   0.438   22.3    $72,415   $1,187,620   $53,316
Kansas City 97  65   0.599   48.4   $100,453   $1,972,684   $40,758
Minnesota   77  84   0.478   28.9    $80,358   $1,410,024   $48,826
Oakland     83  79   0.512   34.4    $54,994     $699,832   $20,344
Seattle     59 103   0.364   10.4    $82,244   $1,462,832  $140,657
Texas       76  85   0.472   27.9   $148,792   $3,326,176  $119,337

Chi Cubs    64  98   0.395   15.4   $160,209   $3,645,852  $236,744
Montreal    90  72   0.556   41.4   $158,196   $3,589,488   $86,703
NY Mets     67  95   0.414   18.4   $126,488   $2,701,664  $146,830
Phldelphia  91  71   0.562   42.4   $221,274   $5,355,672  $126,313
Pittsburgh  83  59   0.585   46.1   $199,185   $4,737,180  $102,781
St. Louis   74  88   0.457   25.4   $173,480   $4,017,440  $158,167

Atlanta     81  80   0.503   32.9   $147,989   $3,303,692  $100,407
Cincinnati  89  73   0.549   40.4   $162,655   $3,714,340   $91,939
Houston     93  70   0.571   43.8   $176,720   $4,108,160   $93,731
LA          92  71   0.564   42.8   $183,124   $4,287,472  $100,091
San Diego   73  89   0.451   24.4   $138,978   $3,051,384  $125,057
San Fran    75  86   0.466   26.9   $148,265   $3,311,420  $123,258

The 1980 season opened under the cloud of a threatened mid-season labor stoppage. In March the players voted 973-1 to strike if the owners persisted in their demand that a club losing a free agent receive a major league player from the signing club as compensation--in effect converting the signing of a free agent into the equivalent of a trade. Hours before the strike deadline, the parties settled all other issues and agreed to revisit the compensation issue the next year.

On the diamond, the Philadelphia Phillies rode their league-leading payroll to their first (and so far only) World Championship. Owner Ruly Carpenter blames himself and his fellow owners for rising salaries, noting that "no court can compel you to spend millions on players."

For proof, Carpenter needed to look no further than Oakland's Charles O. Finley, who rode the majors' lowest payroll to an 83-79 record in the year of Billyball. The Angels spent almost $4 million more to finish 17 games behind Oakland, while the Yankees spent twice as much as the Orioles, but finished just three games ahead.

Table 5. Marginal Payroll/Marginal Win, 1981


Team	      W   L    Pct   Marg   8/31       Marg        Marg $/
                             Wins   Average    Payroll     Marg Win
Baltimore   59  46   0.562   42.4   $207,654   $4,904,312  $115,590
Boston      59  49   0.546   39.9   $223,252   $5,341,056  $133,861
Cleveland   52  51   0.505   33.2   $186,396   $4,309,088  $129,845
Detroit     60  49   0.550   40.6   $160,561   $3,585,708   $88,374
Milwaukee   62  47   0.569   43.5   $243,882   $5,918,696  $135,916
NY Yankees  59  48   0.551   40.7   $309,855   $7,765,940  $190,682
Toronto     37  69   0.349    7.9    $97,271   $1,813,588  $228,206

California  51  59   0.464   26.5   $259,404   $6,353,312  $239,665
Chi WSox    54  52   0.509   33.9   $192,658   $4,484,424  $132,174
Kansas City 50  53   0.485   30.0   $112,910   $2,251,480   $74,947
Minnesota   41  68   0.376   12.3    $85,736   $1,490,608  $120,836
Oakland     64  45   0.587   46.5   $148,065   $3,235,820   $69,559
Seattle     44  65   0.404   16.8    $95,263   $1,757,364  $104,639
Texas       57  48   0.543   39.3   $178,131   $4,077,668  $103,644

Chi Cubs    38  65   0.369   11.2   $125,117   $2,593,276  $232,227
Montreal    60  48   0.556   41.4   $195,958   $4,576,824  $110,551
NY Mets     41  62   0.398   15.9   $201,303   $4,726,484  $297,536
Phldelphia  59  48   0.551   40.7   $289,971   $7,209,188  $177,012
Pittsburgh  46  56   0.451   24.5   $206,359   $4,868,052  $199,031
St. Louis   59  43   0.578   45.1   $207,654   $4,904,312  $108,729

Atlanta     50  56   0.472   27.8   $195,449   $4,562,572  $164,032
Cincinnati  66  42   0.611   50.4   $201,557   $4,733,596   $93,921
Houston     61  49   0.555   41.2   $260,789   $6,392,092  $155,011
LA          63  47   0.573   44.2   $192,104   $4,468,912  $101,148
San Diego   41  69   0.373   11.8   $103,106   $1,976,968  $167,798
San Fran    56  55   0.505   33.1   $185,939   $4,296,292  $129,681

The standings above don't tell the whole story. Nineteen-Eighty-One was the Year of the Dreaded Split Season, in which neither NL club with the best winning percentage in its division qualified for the postseason. The mid-season walkout, which blew a two-month hole in the schedule, ended with the owners accepting a bizarre form of indirect free agent compensation that satisfied no one.

Instead of acquiring a player from the signing club's team, a club which lost a free agent could select one from the roster of any other club eligible to sign Type A free agents. A few years later, this provision allowed the White Sox to claim Tom Seaver from the Mets as compensation for losing Dennis Lamp to Toronto. The major league compensation draft was unceremoniously dropped during the next labor negotiations.

With the average player salary up over 250% in the first five years of free agency, Whitey Herzog told The Sporting News: "I think the bankruptcies will start in two or three years." Herzog's Cardinals were one of the NL's most efficient spenders, while in the AL, those large-market powerhouses of Milwaukee and Oakland finished with their league's best records. The NL East-winning Montreal Expos had the majors' largest local media contracts. (No, that is not a misprint.)

Table 6. Marginal Payroll/Marginal Win, 1982


Team	      W   L    Pct   Marg   8/31       Marg        Marg $/
                             Wins   Average    Payroll     Marg Win
Baltimore   94  68   0.580   45.4   $242,558   $5,853,624  $128,934
Boston      89  73   0.549   40.4   $247,513   $5,992,364  $148,326
Cleveland   78  84   0.481   29.4   $216,000   $5,110,000  $173,810
Detroit     83  79   0.512   34.4   $174,134   $3,937,752  $114,470
Milwaukee   95  67   0.586   46.4   $330,965   $8,329,020  $179,505
NY Yankees  79  83   0.488   30.4   $411,988  $10,597,664  $348,607
Toronto     78  84   0.481   29.4   $127,860   $2,642,080   $89,867

California  93  69   0.574   44.4   $423,403  $10,917,284  $245,885
Chi WSox    87  75   0.537   38.4   $247,673   $5,996,844  $156,168
Kansas City 90  72   0.556   41.4   $258,091   $6,288,548  $151,897
Minnesota   60 102   0.370   11.4    $67,335     $947,380   $83,104
Oakland     68  94   0.420   19.4   $266,335   $6,519,380  $336,051
Seattle     76  86   0.469   27.4   $114,405   $2,265,340   $82,677
Texas       64  98   0.395   15.4   $186,424   $4,281,872  $278,044

Chi Cubs    73  89   0.451   24.4   $220,662   $5,240,536  $214,776
Montreal    86  76   0.531   37.4   $299,192   $7,439,376  $198,914
NY Mets     65  97   0.401   16.4   $263,539   $6,441,092  $392,750
Phldelphia  89  73   0.549   40.4   $390,370   $9,992,360  $247,336
Pittsburgh  84  78   0.519   35.4   $251,234   $6,096,552  $172,219
St. Louis   92  70   0.568   43.4   $237,533   $5,712,924  $131,634

Atlanta     89  73   0.549   40.4   $209,492   $4,927,776  $121,975
Cincinnati  61 101   0.377   12.4   $203,532   $4,760,896  $383,943
Houston     77  85   0.475   28.4   $306,565   $7,645,820  $269,219
Los Angeles 88  74   0.543   39.4   $216,332   $5,119,296  $129,931
San Diego   81  81   0.500   32.4   $137,946   $2,924,488   $90,262
San Fran    87  75   0.537   38.4   $198,438   $4,618,264  $120,267

Before the 1982 season, Peter Gammons warned: "To those of you who don't approve of the concept of revenue sharing in any form, what's the future of competitive balance when the Yankees will have a payroll of $13 million in 1982 and the Seattle Mariners will probably have gross revenues of $6 million? Answer: None." The Yankees' $8.3 million spending advantage bought them three more wins than the Mariners.

Despite moving his Twins into a new stadium at the start of the season, Calvin Griffith seemed to be operating in a different league from everyone else. While his players earned far less than those on any other club, his relatives were well supported. When Griffith finally sold the Twins two years later, their employees included his sister, two brothers, son and two nephews.

This was the only season between 1977 and 1988 in which the Yankees did not have the AL's highest payroll. The California Angels topped them by signing Reggie Jackson, appropriately enough. For the sixth year in a row, the Phillies had the NL's most expensive roster, while for the second time but not the last, the Mets were the most wasteful spenders in the majors.

Table 7. Marginal Payroll/Marginal Win, 1983


Team	      W   L    Pct   Marg   8/31       Marg        Marg $/
                             Wins   Average    Payroll     Marg Win
Baltimore   98  64   0.605   49.4   $305,305   $7,568,540  $153,209
Boston      78  84   0.481   29.4   $264,833   $6,435,324  $218,889
Cleveland   70  92   0.432   21.4   $242,134   $5,799,752  $271,016
Detroit     92  70   0.568   43.4   $263,899   $6,409,172  $147,677
Milwaukee   87  75   0.537   38.4   $352,061   $8,877,708  $231,190
NY Yankees  91  71   0.562   42.4   $463,867  $12,008,276  $283,214
Toronto     89  73   0.549   40.4   $213,087   $4,986,436  $123,427

California  70  92   0.432   21.4   $389,833   $9,935,324  $464,267
Chi WSox    99  63   0.611   50.4   $291,114   $7,171,192  $142,286
Kansas City 79  83   0.488   30.4   $309,962   $7,698,936  $253,254
Minnesota   70  92   0.432   21.4    $97,980   $1,763,440   $82,404
Oakland     74  88   0.457   25.4   $266,815   $6,490,820  $255,544
Seattle     60  102  0.370   11.4   $118,875   $2,348,500  $206,009
Texas       77  85   0.475   28.4   $180,848   $4,083,744  $143,794

Chi Cubs    71  91   0.438   22.4   $268,947   $6,550,516  $292,434
Montreal    82  80   0.506   33.4   $353,357   $8,913,996  $266,886
NY Mets     68  94   0.420   19.4   $463,987  $12,011,636  $619,156
Phldelphia  90  72   0.556   41.4   $442,165  $11,400,620  $275,377
Pittsburgh  84  78   0.519   35.4   $314,769   $7,833,532  $221,286
St. Louis   79  83   0.488   30.4   $259,393   $6,283,004  $206,678

Atlanta     88  74   0.543   39.4   $347,620   $8,753,360  $222,166
Cincinnati  74  88   0.457   25.4   $239,068   $5,713,904  $224,957
Houston     85  77   0.525   36.4   $364,825   $9,235,100  $253,712
LA          91  71   0.562   42.4   $288,555   $7,099,540  $167,442
San Diego   81  81   0.500   32.4   $261,820   $6,350,960  $196,017
San Fran    79  83   0.488   30.4   $248,204   $5,969,712  $196,372

For the second season in a row, none of the four division winners repeated as champions. This would seem to be strong evidence that baseball's economic system was working, but small-market clubs were already lobbying for 25% sharing of all local revenues.

In their first winning season, the Toronto Blue Jays claimed the title of MLB's most efficient winning team. (The Minnesota Twins actually spent less, but they weren't really trying to win.) The Yankees set the tone for the rest of the decade by spending a fortune to finish third, while the surprising White Sox ran off with their division by 20 games.

Philadelphia's "Wheeze Kids" limped to another division title, while somehow being outspent by the Mets. In the closely bunched NL West, most clubs got more or less what they paid for, but the Dodgers' superior efficiency helped them defeat the higher-spending Braves and Astros.

Table 8. Marginal Payroll/Marginal Win, 1984


Team	      W   L    Pct   Marg   8/31       Marg        Marg $/
                             Wins   Average    Payroll     Marg Win
Baltimore   98  64   0.605   49.4   $305,305   $7,568,540  $153,209
Baltimore   85  77   0.525   36.4   $360,204    $8,965,712 $246,311
Boston      86  76   0.531   37.4   $297,878    $7,220,584 $193,064
Cleveland   75  87   0.463   26.4   $159,774    $3,353,672 $127,033
Detroit     104 58   0.642   55.4   $371,332    $9,277,296 $167,460
Milwaukee   67  94   0.416   18.8   $385,215    $9,666,020 $513,709
NY Yankees  87  75   0.537   38.4   $458,544   $11,719,232 $305,188
Toronto     89  73   0.549   40.4   $295,632    $7,157,696 $177,171

California  81  81   0.500   32.4   $431,431   $10,960,068 $338,274
Chi W Sox   74  88   0.457   25.4   $447,281   $11,403,868 $448,971
Kansas City 84  78   0.519   35.4   $291,160    $7,032,480 $198,658
Minnesota   81  81   0.500   32.4   $172,024    $3,696,672 $114,095
Oakland     77  85   0.475   28.4   $382,027    $9,576,756 $337,210
Seattle     74  88   0.457   25.4   $168,505    $3,598,140 $141,659
Texas	    69  92   0.429   20.8   $247,081    $5,798,268 $278,380

Chi Cubs    96  65   0.596   48.0   $422,194   $10,701,432 $222,964
Montreal    78  83   0.484   29.9   $368,557    $9,199,596 $307,839
NY Mets     90  72   0.556   41.4   $282,952    $6,802,656 $164,315
Phldelphia  81  81   0.500   32.4   $401,476   $10,121,328 $312,387
Pittsburgh  75  87   0.463   26.4   $330,661    $8,138,508 $308,277
St. Louis   84  78   0.519   35.4   $290,886    $7,024,808 $198,441

Atlanta     80  82   0.494   31.4   $402,869   $10,160,332 $323,577
Cincinnati  70  92   0.432   21.4   $269,019    $6,412,532 $299,651
Houston     80  82   0.494   31.4   $382,991    $9,603,748 $305,852
LA          79  83   0.488   30.4   $316,530    $7,742,840 $254,699
San Diego   92  70   0.568   43.4   $311,199    $7,593,572 $174,967
San Fran    66  96   0.407   17.4   $282,132    $6,779,696 $389,638

Between 1983 and 1984, the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets rocketed from the bottom to the top of the NL East. A comparison of their payrolls showed they took very different paths. The Cubs' payroll jumped 50% as they built on the acquisitions of Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews, Dennis Eckersley and especially Rick Sutcliffe. The Mets added by subtracting, lowering their payroll by more than one-third even as they improved by 22 games in the standings.

New Mets manager Dave Johnson constructed the majors' youngest roster of regulars. Met hitters averaged 26 years of age, while behind rookies Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez, Met pitchers had an average age of 25. The nucleus put in place by Johnson would remain through 1988, winning two titles and finishing a close second in the other seasons.

Nineteen-eighty-four's best team, the Detroit Tigers, were 30 games over .500 before Memorial Day and cruised to the World Series triumph. The largely homegrown Tigers were almost as efficient as the Mets, while the aging Brewers spent more for less than any other club.

Related Content:  Oakland,  Detroit,  Payroll,  Rookies Of The Year

0 comments have been left for this article.

No Previous Article
No Next Article

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of July 25-27
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, July 28
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Francisco Liriano
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Bochy and Peavy, Back ...
This is Not Your Father's Baseball Road Trip...
Premium Article The HOF Rule Change
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: July 28, 2014

MORE FROM MARCH 16, 2004
Prospectus Today: Standingsology
Prospectus Triple Play: Boston Red Sox, Cinc...
Premium Article Team Health Reports: Pittsburgh Pirates

MORE BY DOUG PAPPAS
2004-04-12 - Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
2004-04-06 - Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
2004-04-01 - Yankees' Stadium Dilemma
2004-03-16 - Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
2004-03-09 - Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins
2003-12-19 - The A-Rod Negotiations
2003-11-21 - The Danys Baez Situation
More...


INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2007-05-21 - Remembering Doug Pappas