The 2013 season turned out to be a drastic turnaround and fairy tale ending for the World Champion Red Sox. After a 69-93 record and finishing last in the AL east in 2012, former pitching coach John Farrell lead the team to its third post season title in the last 10 years. Per the usual insane postseason performance from David Ortiz hitting .353 with 5 HRs and 13 RBIs and some inspirational words concerning the Marathon tragedy the Red Sox were back on the map as a serious contender in Major League Baseball.
Following some of the logic written in Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball,” here is an analysis of the regular season when compared to payroll and wins. No surprise to see the A’s ranking amongst the best in the cost per win category after reading the depiction of Billy Beane’s philosophy during the early 2000s.
|Payroll||Wins||Cost per Win|
|Tampa Bay Rays||$57,505,272||92||$625,057.30|
|Boston Red Sox||$140,657,500||97||$1,450,077.32|
|New York Yankees||$203,445,586||85||$2,393,477.48|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||$220,395,196||92||$2,395,599.96|
Here are a few surprises that I noticed when compiling this list. First, the Dodgers ranked among the worst in the league in this cost per win category despite having a successful regular season with 92 wins and winning the NL West by 11 games. However, they had the highest payroll in the MLB by nearly $17 million above the Yankees (more to come on them later). Much of this payroll spike came from a blockbuster deal in August of 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers from the Red Sox after their abysmal finish to end the 2012 season. As a Sox fan, I was a little discouraged to see Gonzalez sent away after such a good year statistically. Now I am eating my words naturally but now I am beginning to question what the Dodger’s GM was thinking at the time.
First, you have Josh Beckett a clear veteran on the pitching staff and 2 time World Series champion and WS MVP with the Marlins in 2003. That being said, at the time of the deal, he is approaching the end of his prime and had a 5.23 ERA with Boston up until that point. Not to mention, his contract is quite the price to pay because of his veteran status. I do not fault the idea of bringing a senior starting pitcher to a championship contender but I do question the $17 million they paid him in 2013 only to make 8 starts on the season.
Then there’s Carl Crawford. From 2005 to 2010 with the Rays, he hit above .300 in all but one season with 40+ stolen bases most years and 100+ runs twice over that span. But here comes the catch. After being acquired by the Red Sox, he hit .255 and had an OBP of .289, both career lows. In addition, he battled an injury all of the 2012 season. Even with the bounce back during 2013, I question the $20 million he was paid after some pretty horrendous results the previous two season.
Finally, Adrian Gonzalez who had to have been the only reason the Dodgers even considered this deal. Great first baseman at the plate and in the field coming off of 6 straight seasons of either 100+ RBIs, BA of .300+ or BOTH! Fun fact is that I saw him play in AA when he was with the Rangers and I still have the splintered Louisville Slugger he gave me after the game. But in the context of this trade, he was really the only upside the Dodgers had and while they had a successful regular season, credit the World Series hardware to the Red Sox.
Naturally since I am a diehard Sox fan, here comes the expected gloating in the face of Yankee fans. A $200 million payroll, steroid-using third baseman, and a new stadium with a shortened right centerfield cannot buy you a championship. But all rivalries aside, it was a dismal season for the Bronx bombers in 2013. A third place finish in the AL East (tie with Baltimore actually), 85-77 record, and a negative run differential are all some pretty troubling signs for the Evil Empire. That being said, GM Brian Cashman has spent no time sitting around and has acquired CF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Brian McCann, and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. The 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the best rivalries between the Sox and Yanks.
Lastly, here’s some praise for small budget teams’ success in the regular season. I will stick to the Rays since it is no new phenomenon that the A’s continue to compete with the big boys on a tight budget (credit to Billy Beane once again). First, let’s focus on Evan Longoria easily one of the best third baseman in the MLB and someone who values their organization over their paycheck (Robinson Cano have fun in Seattle). Longoria agreed to a contract extension for six years with the Rays for much less than he could have received on the open market. Through 6 seasons he has an OBP of .357 and 544 RBIs. However, he is one of the best defensive corner infielders in baseball and makes highlight reel plays appear to be routine. Along with David Price leading the pitching rotation and Ben Zobrist as one of the best offensive second basemen, the AL East should continue to be one of the most competitive divisions in the MLB next season.