## Non-Linear Cost-Per-Win Part III

In the comments of Part I, a reader suggested using a measure of team talent other than actual wins in the calculation of payroll efficiency.  Not a bad idea.  I'm going to use Baseball Prospectus' third-order wins metric, which adjusts for run differential (via EqA) and strength of schedule.  The average third-order win totals for NL and AL teams were 78.5 and 84.8, respectively.

The merits of third-order wins and other Pythagorean-like win estimators have been debated before, so I won't mention much about them here.  There are pluses and minuses, but it's all a gray area.  From reading a lot of things written on the topic and crunching a lot of numbers throughout the years, I tend to think that, on average, 40% of the difference between actual record and Pythag record is due to skill (extreme bullpen leverage, non-SB baserunning, and doing the little things) while 60% is luck (clutch hitting, the way batting events combine into runs, run distribution, alignment of RS and RA, etc.)  Certainly it can be (mostly) all luck or all skill for a given team in a given year.

Anyway, the table below uses the same methodology as Part II.  Using the logistic model, I've calculated the expected payroll to produce a team with that much talent and compared it to each team's actual payroll in order to find their savings or wastings.  All dollars are in millions:

 Lg Team 3O Wins Exp Pay Act Pay Savings A Tampa Bay Rays 97.0 \$222 \$44 \$178 A Boston Red Sox 102.1 \$280 \$133 \$146 N Chicago Cubs 94.5 \$203 \$118 \$84 A Toronto Blue Jays 92.0 \$174 \$98 \$76 N Florida Marlins 81.1 \$94 \$22 \$72 N Milwaukee Brewers 86.4 \$128 \$81 \$47 A Minnesota Twins 82.9 \$99 \$57 \$42 N Arizona Diamondbacks 83.6 \$107 \$66 \$41 N Philadelphia Phillies 86.8 \$131 \$98 \$33 A Cleveland Indians 84.1 \$111 \$79 \$32 N Los Angeles Dodgers 88.7 \$146 \$119 \$27 A Oakland Athletics 76.7 \$65 \$48 \$17 A Chicago White Sox 88.1 \$137 \$121 \$16 N St. Louis Cardinals 84.6 \$115 \$100 \$15 A Texas Rangers 78.7 \$75 \$68 \$7 N New York Mets 88.0 \$140 \$138 \$3 A Kansas City Royals 76.2 \$59 \$58 \$1 N Colorado Rockies 77.0 \$64 \$69 -\$4 A Los Angeles Angels 84.0 \$254 \$110 -\$9 A Baltimore Orioles 73.7 \$48 \$67 -\$19 N Atlanta Braves 79.1 \$77 \$102 -\$25 N Houston Astros 75.8 \$60 \$89 -\$29 A New York Yankees 91.3 \$168 \$209 -\$41 N San Francisco Giants 70.1 \$26 \$77 -\$51 A Detroit Tigers 79.4 \$79 \$138 -\$59 N San Diego Padres 67.9 \$15 \$74 -\$59 N Washington Nationals 63.4 -\$5 \$55 -\$60 N Cincinnati Reds 67.8 \$14 \$74 -\$60 N Pittsburgh Pirates 61.8 -\$14 \$49 -\$62 A Seattle Mariners 65.2 \$2 \$118 -\$116

Notes:

• No suprise the Rays look good again, although their actual win total was a bit above their true talent level.
• The Red Sox vault up to second in efficiency.  Going into 2009, there's no doubt the Sox should be the favorite in the AL East, if you look beyond 2008's actual record.
• In general, teams are more clustered in the middle.  That makes sense, because third-order wins attempt to remove luck, and luck causes the distribution to spread wider.  It adds to the overall variance.

We can also compare the savings computed using third-order wins to the savings computed using actual wins.  This is the same thing as comparing the two win totals directly, but puts it on the payroll scale.  A positive difference means the third-order method gives the team more savings (or less wastings):

 Lg Team 30 Sav Act Sav Diff A Boston Red Sox \$146 \$88 \$58 N Atlanta Braves -\$25 -\$77 \$52 N Los Angeles Dodgers \$27 -\$22 \$50 A Toronto Blue Jays \$76 \$43 \$34 N San Diego Padres -\$59 -\$91 \$32 N Colorado Rockies -\$4 -\$33 \$28 N Washington Nationals -\$60 -\$87 \$27 N Arizona Diamondbacks \$41 \$17 \$24 A Detroit Tigers -\$59 -\$79 \$21 A Baltimore Orioles -\$19 -\$40 \$20 A Seattle Mariners -\$116 -\$126 \$10 N New York Mets \$3 -\$5 \$8 A Cleveland Indians \$32 \$24 \$8 N St. Louis Cardinals \$15 \$11 \$4 A New York Yankees -\$41 -\$44 \$3 N San Francisco Giants -\$51 -\$51 \$1 A Oakland Athletics \$17 \$19 -\$2 A Kansas City Royals \$1 \$6 -\$5 N Chicago Cubs \$84 \$89 -\$5 N Florida Marlins \$72 \$78 -\$6 N Milwaukee Brewers \$47 \$59 -\$12 N Pittsburgh Pirates -\$62 -\$48 -\$14 A Texas Rangers \$7 \$22 -\$15 A Tampa Bay Rays \$178 \$199 -\$21 N Cincinnati Reds -\$60 -\$38 -\$22 A Chicago White Sox \$16 \$39 -\$23 N Philadelphia Phillies \$33 \$58 -\$26 A Minnesota Twins \$42 \$95 -\$53 N Houston Astros -\$29 \$25 -\$54 A Los Angeles Angels -\$9 \$158 -\$167

Notes:

• The top of this list reads like a list of teams you shouldn't forget about going into next season.  And the bottom is a list of teams that will likely disappoint.
• The Angels and Twins do have a habit of out-performing their Pythag, mostly due to team baserunning skills.  I still expect a fair amount of regression, just not all the way.  And don't expect their clutch hitting skills to continue.
• The fall of Ed Wade will not be pretty.

## Trending Discussions

forgot?

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

I already have a Vox Media account!

### Verify Vox Media account

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

We'll email you a reset link.

Try another email?

### Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

### Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

### Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.