MLB’s big-spending losers and frugal winners of 2022


Sometimes, crunching numbers puts things in perspective.

We’re not talking about OPS+, wRC+, BABIP, or UZR.

We’re talking about Moneyball. No, not Michael Lewis’ best-selling book, nor Brad Pitt’s movie interpretation.

We’re talking about the mega-millions of dollars spent to produce wins in Major League Baseball. When you look at dollars spent and how much those wins have cost each team this season, it’s eye-opening.

Let’s begin with the Local Nine. According to’s MLB payroll tracker, the Rockies’ team payroll sits just above $140 million, ranking 17th in the majors. Entering Saturday’s games, the Rockies were in last place in the National League West with a 52-69 record. That figures out to $2.69 million per victory.

It sure hasn’t helped that Kris Bryant, who’s making $18 million this season, has been limited to 42 games because of injuries. The Rockies are 20-22 in the games in which he’s played.

The Diamondbacks, 55-64 and four games up on the Rockies in the NL West, have a relatively meager payroll of $84.6 million, translating to $1.54 million a win. The mighty Dodgers have both the highest payroll ($265.2 million) and the best record (82-36) in the majors. Cost per win: a cool $3.23 million.

At least the wealthy Dodgers are winning, although their expectant fans will surely consider 2022 a disappointment if the Dodgers don’t win the World Series.

A number of big-spending, but low-rolling teams are getting very little bang for their buck. Start with the disappointing Red Sox, who are 59-61, with a $207 million payroll that costs them $3.39 million per win.

The White Sox (61-59, $196.4 million) are still alive in the wide-open AL Central, but each of their 61 wins has cost them $3.21 million. The White Sox are chasing the Twins (62-55, $143.1 million, $2.31 million per win), as well as the frugal but successful Guardians. The Guardians lead the AL Central with a 64-55 record and they’ve done it by doling out just $66.2 million in salaries and bonuses. In Cleveland, it’s costing only $1.03 million per W.

The biggest financial loser of all? That would be the Angels, a 52-67 team with $179.8 million payroll that computes to $3.46 million per victory. I imagine that ineptitude is not lost on superstar Shohei Ohtani, who’s eligible for free agency after 2023. The Angels are reportedly going to approach him about a contract extension that probably will start with an annual salary of about $50 million.

Now for the big Moneyball winner. Drumroll, please …

The Orioles, yes, those Orioles, are paying just $706,452 per win. With a 62-57 record in the tough AL East, they remain very much alive for a wild-card playoff spot. Baltimore’s $43.8 million payroll is the lowest in the majors. Yes, even lower than the Athletics’ $47.8 million. The awful A’s have paid $1.11 million for each of their 43 victories.

How big a surprise have the thrifty Orioles been?  Before the season, FanGraphs predicted that the O’s would be the worst team in the majors.


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