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Robert Trigaux

Stacked up against 122 pro sports teams, Tampa Bay Rays still among smartest spending winners



raysgowildtbtcover2011.jpgWake up and good morning. Okay, so we already know the Tampa Bay Rays are most remarkable for their Moneyball-esque way to squeeze more victories per low payroll than most sports teams. But now we know just how good those Rays are compared to all other pro baseball, football, hockey and basketball teams. They are very, very good. And that -- as a fan of both baseball and the art of doing the most with the least -- is a big reason to cheer the Rays franchise. When they win, they really earn it. Despite having the third-lowest average payroll in baseball ($49 million), the Rays made the playoffs three times in the past five years.

In fact, when matched against pro teams in the four top sports in this country, the Rays are No. 3 in a new ranking of the Smartest Spenders. What does that mean? It means these teams are ranked for spending the least to win most often.

Here's how Bloomberg/Businessweek came up with these rankings. They culled player payroll data from reported sources and paired them with wins and losses over the last five completed seasons. Then they calculated an average cost per win in each league. Based on that number, they measured (by standard deviation) how far each team varied above or below the league norm.

The result? A cross-sport rating of how every U.S. franchise compares to its peers in squeezing wins from money. They call it the Efficiency Index.

Here are the top teams, across four sports and based on the past 5 years, based on that Efficiency Index:

Top 5 teams: Average wins per season, Average cost per win, Efficiency Index

1. Nashville Predators (hockey): 44.6 wins, $970,000, -1.67
2. Florida Marlins (baseball, who knew?): 78.8 wins,  $520,000, -1.61 (but the Marlins did not make the playoffs in the past five years)
3. Tampa Bay Rays (baseball): 86.8 wins, $560,000, -1.47
4. New England Patriots (football): 12.6 wins, $8.6 million, -1.35
5. San Antonio Spurs (basketball): 55.8 wins, $1.27 million, -1.24

Bottom (worst first) 5 teams: Average wins per season, Average cost per win, Efficiency Index

122 Detroit Lions (football): 3.6 wins, $29.24 million, +3.22
121. New York Yankees (baseball): 95.6 wins, $2.11 million, +2.91
120. New York Knicks (basketball): 31.8 wins, $2.85 million, +2.85
119. Minnesota Timberwolves (basketball): 22 wins, $2.84 million, +2.83
118. St. Louis Rams (football): 4.2 wins, $25.26 million, +2.34

And here's where Tampa Bay's teams stacked up:

National Rank, team, Average wins per season, Average cost per win, Efficiency Index

3. Tampa Bay Rays (baseball): 86.8 wins, $560,000, -1.47
49. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (football): 7 wins, $12.76 million, -0.42
94. Tampa Bay Lightning (hockey): 35.8 wins, $1.25 million, +0.53

Check out the entire Smartest Spenders in Sports rankings of 122 teams here.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times










[Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 7:28am]


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