The Moneyball book and movie were so popular that people forget Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s never won a championship. The A’s may not have triumphed but the idea–that you don’t have to pay big money to win–looks to be a long term winner. For the last decade in MLB, the “relationship between payroll and wins is almost nonexistent,” according to Brian MacPherson in the Providence Journal. Based on Opening Day payrolls and win totals in the last 10 years, MacPherson reports that the “correlation between a team’s payroll and its win total has plummeted.”
Of the five teams in Major League Baseball with the highest payrolls today, only one–the LA Dodgers–would make the playoffs if the playoffs started right now. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers have long used their “big market” positions to dominate “small market” franchises like Milwaukee and Kansas City. But the Brewers and Royals are positioned for playoff berths this year, despite being 16th and 19th in payrolls respectively.