Payroll, Payroll, Payroll


There is a cool new statistical tool over at Baseball Prospectus (and it isn’t for members only): a payroll page run on those numbers exhaustively researched and recorded at Cot’s Baseball Contracts.  Having so much payroll data at my fingertips allowed me to generate this:  Isn’t it beautiful?

What is that fascinating, enchanting graph… you ask?

That plate of spilled pepper is a scatter graph of winning percentage vs. the team’s percentage of all MLB payroll, for the years since the Tigers last playoff appearance 2007 to 2011.  What do you notice first?  Not a whole lot of correlation, eh?  It seems to exist, mathematically speaking at least, it’s just awfully weak.  That one team, though, you know who I mean – they seem to be firmly clustered up there at the high payroll and high win corner.  No company.  Sad.  For the rest of the league, the correlation is on the lines of 7%… so raising your ‘payroll percentage’ by 1 percentage point (no one has more than 8%) would only add 0.07 percentage points to your ‘total win percentage’ – or add 1.7 wins.  Since total MLB payroll averages about 2.75 billion dollars in each of these five seasons, that 1 percentage point increase is about 27.5 million dollars.  That seems like very, very expensive WAR, no?