The Yankees are the cheapest team in baseball. You thought the Mets were, right? Nope, and here’s the ugly data to prove it…
The Yankees value is boosted by ever-expanding yearly revenues used to support a player payroll that is typically at or near the highest among major league teams. That much we know.
However, in April 2019, Forbes pulled the plug on the mirage the Yankees portray to their fans in claiming the need to stay within the confines of the luxury tax threshold.
It all has to do with the percentage of yearly revenue each of the thirty major league teams spends on player payroll.
The most recent figures available are from 2018 stemming from a study conducted by Forbes and MLB – although someone must have had a gun to Commissioner Manfred’s back to get this data – and published by Pinstripe Alley.
In 2018, no team generated more revenue than the Yankees $668 million. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, and Giants all cashed in as well.
The Red Sox had the highest player payroll ($239 million), and they are followed by the Nationals, Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, and Yankees, who tied at $193 million.
So far, no surprises. These teams are the usual suspects. Now, take a look at the table below, paying specific attention to the % column that represents the percentage of revenue spent on payroll.
Yankees are cheap, cheap, cheap.
While the data clearly show that most major league teams spend almost or more than half of their revenue on player payroll, the Yankees spend less than thirty percent of theirs on the payroll.
Presumably, a good portion of the remaining balance ($465 million), minus other operating expenses, is then available for distribution to shareholders as a dividend check. Must be
The Yankees cross-town rival Mets sit in the middle of the pack, spending 47.1% or $130 million to pay their players from revenue equaling half of the Yankees take.
Mets fans and New York Media constantly harangue Fred Wilpon, the Mets principal owner, as being cheap and unwilling to “spend like the Yankees” to put a winning team on the field.
Moreover, smaller market teams like the Orioles, Indians, Royals, and Twins expend well more than half of their revenue to produce competitive teams, only to fail in spite of their effort.
Meanwhile, fans in Toronto and Washington should be applauding their ownership’s willingness to devote six of every ten dollars earned on their players, causing one to wonder how the two franchises stay in business.
Translating the Yankees Con Job
To illustrate the Yankees con further, let’s do some simple arithmetic.
Let’s take the middle of the pack where the Mets are as an example. What is 41% of 668? I’m pretty sure the answer comes to 304.
Therefore, $304 million is what the Yankees player payroll should be if they spent the same percentage of their revenue the Mets did in 2018.
Doing the same math exercise but pretending the Mets are the Yankees spending only 30% of their $340 million in revenue on payroll, the Mets payroll is then reduced to a paltry $102 million.
Can you imagine the scope of Mets fan’s anger if that were the case?
Nothing is ever what it seems – or so it seems.
We hear or read things, so often they become readily accepted as facts. We can’t help it.
Seattle is a very rainy city – right? Nope, Seattle receives the U.S. average rainfall of 38 inches, and actually, New York is wetter at 45 inches per year.
Perception is everything. In this case, the Wilpons are the El Cheapos, and the Yankees are the wild spenders who don’t know what to do with all their money.
Maybe, we should keep all this quiet though as baseball might come to rue the day the Yankees upped that percentage to normalcy.
Because if the Yankees take their expected payroll in 2020 of about $250 – and added $53 million more for a total of $303 million – all hell is likely to break loose. Especially, that is, if the competitive balance between teams is upended even more than it is now.
Besides, what’s the real harm in believing Seattle gets more rain than New York…