Baseball is a simple game. Playing it professionally is not. Like checkers it is easy to learn, but nearly impossible to master. The subtleties of the game at the professional level are so convoluted that it has spawned an algebraic discipline to try and explain it. Despite our sincerest attempts to distill this simple game into predictable chunks, the simplistic and random nature of the game eludes us.
It’s also what makes the game so intriguing. If anyone actually succeeded in predicting the outcome with any regularity the whole thing would become a dinosaur within weeks. That of course never stops us from trying. So much of the game is decided by things that can never be known ahead of time. Not just injuries, but weather. Overcast days allow hitters to be able to pick up the rotation of the ball out of the pitchers hand easier. Days with intense sunshine make the ball seem like a solid white orb without seams. Rainy seasons favor pitchers, while hot and humid seasons favor the hitters. What’s the weather going to be like during July in Southern California? Nobody knows that of course, and with nearly a half a Billion dollars being spent on baseball within a 60 mile radius of Riverside, it’s entirely possible that the weather in Southern California will be the most influential things in the 2013 Major League Baseball season.
Well, that and the $430 million dollars of course.
$430 million is the estimated amount of money the LA Dodgers, Anaheim Angels and San Diego Padres have committed so far for this season. It’s only 4% less than the entire NL Central, a measly 18 million dollars. Roughly the amount of money Josh Hamilton will have earned by August 1st.
And let’s not even discuss the absurd estimated $627 million dollars being spent in the AL East.
Maybe it’s tiresome to quantify baseball by such crude measures, but I dare anyone to come up with a more exacting approach. And besides, it is “America’s Game”. With all due respect to apple pie, nothing is quite as American as capitalist greed.
I compared many stats and variables of seasons past to create my 2013 MLB preview. I’ll be breaking down each division and the teams one day at a time. I complied and compared them on the following WAE and Salary (Excel 2007 required). Some explanations:
*Payroll data for 2013 is estimated. Every teams payroll can expect to fluctuate +/- 3% by opening day.
*Since my work is based largely on the idea that payroll=wins, this means each team has +/- 2.1 wins.
*WAE is Wins Against Expectations. It’s a formula I created last year as a means to judge how well any particular fan base supports its local team. It measures win% vs. the best season a fanbase can expect (102.1 wins) and then compares it to attendance %. In theory, the team that consistently wins 102 games should sell every seat for every home game 100% of the time. If they only win 100 games they should sell out 98.03% of the time, ect.
*Aside from pure salary, other variables were considered:
- Amount per Win by Front office. In Boston Theo Epstein averaged 1 win for every $1.2 million spent. Since he left the Red Sox have ballooned to $1.8 mil per win. When adjusted for his move into the NL, I expect the Cubs to follow HIS trend, and not the one they were on before he arrived. Others teams and GM’s have been adjusted similarly as well.
- Exchange rate- The average win in the AL costs $1,278,106, while the same win in the NL cost 120k less. However that is negated if you recalculate the Houston Astros in the AL West. In fact if projected as being in the AL West over the last decade the NL would actually be a more expensive, but only by a mere $12,000 dollars. The minimal variation between divisions and leagues when payroll is divided by wins is actually quite astonishing.
- Houston Astros- Their 35 million dollar payroll and 55 wins have been considered when computing predictions for the AL West.
- Redundancy- I computed value three times: with all teams considered, with the top 2 and bottom 2 teams in total payroll eliminated (NYY, LAD, Houston and Miami) and with the top 2 and bottom 2 teams in of avg. cost per victory over the last 3 years eliminated. In all three cases the results showed minimal variation, +/- 1.7 wins. I used the model that included all 30 MLB teams.
In every season there are usually two teams team that breaks the economic paradigm in each direction. One grossly overpays and underachieves, another gets great value and wins despite their economic disadvantage. (Think of the Mets and Cubs as opposed to the A’s and Rays). I have not accounted for these, though I do not doubt they will happen. They always do. In fact if were to bet on who was going to defy the numbers so to speak, those would be the four teams I would expect.
But what does it all mean? Nothing, really.
This is just another lame attempt to predict the outcome of the upcoming baseball season, which as I covered before, is completely unpredictable. Everyone from Peter Gammons, Buster Olney and the masses of baseball writers across America will write similar articles with their predictions. Theirs will highlight the talent and coaching, or lack thereof. Mine is based on one thing. Money.
At the end of the year, we’ll see whether or not I’m right. Maybe I’m just another annoying clown with a blog. We’ll see.
Tomorrow we start with the rough and tumble ML East.