LINK: Visualizing the Changes in MLB Payrolls

I haven’t done one of these link pieces in a while, but thanks to Dan Brooks pointing this out on Twitter, I have a new site to recommend: Phil Roth’s MLB payroll visualization charts.

Basically, it takes player and team payroll information from Baseball Reference and puts it into a set of interactive charts that lets you see the variance in MLB payrolls among teams by year, as well as seeing the building blocks for each team in each year. Here’s a couple of screen shots, though the interactive graphics are much, much cooler than just static JPGs.



These kinds of images really show how the explosion of the Yankees salary about 10 years ago, relative to everyone else in baseball, and then you can see things starting to even out more over the last few years, with the Dodgers basically catching up this season.

Anyway, there’s no real new information here, but the ability to see team and league payrolls this way, easily changing from year to year and team to team, makes this a pretty neat tool. Good job, Mr. Roth.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

19 Responses to “LINK: Visualizing the Changes in MLB Payrolls”

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  1. RMD says:

    Most of the teams in the bottom 5 in payroll (PIT, OAK, TB) will probably make the playoffs this year. Wow.

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  2. George says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Very cool.

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  3. Kevin says:

    The Marlins only have two contracts on the books for next season?? (Heath Bell and Jeff Mathis). I know there are a lot of Arb guys, but only two contracts sounds insane. And those two end next season, meaning they have no contracts for 2015.

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    • Jay29 says:

      This is how Jeff Loria clears the books and makes heaps of cash.

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      • Jason B says:

        He’s Scrooge McDuck personified, but I think I would trade the Jays’ last 20 years of wandering in the wilderness for the Marlins’, with their two titles and not much else.

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  4. JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

    Question I’ve always wanted analyzed but have never seen anyone do a study on. Are teans bad because they don’t spend money, or do teams stop spending money because they are bad? Because alot of people like to say that teams with low payrolls are typically the worst teams because they can’t afford to sign good players. If it just turns out that bad teams just trade away their assets and play cheap young players until they can compete again, then that narrative may be a load of bullcrap.

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    • Jay29 says:

      It’s a little of both. Teams in low-revenue cities/parks can’t afford the money, so they’re often bad, and teams whose high payrolls stop producing winning seasons will often pare back the spending and regroup in a couple years.

      So you’ll see teams like MIA, KC, MIN usually have a tough time putting winning teams together, while NYY, BOS, and LAD will almost always be .500 or better. But you’ll also see teams like HOU, NYM, and CHC play bad for a couple years until they re-stock and go with higher payrolls when they can win, with PHI and CHW likely to begin this process soon, too. (And you’ll also see teams like OAK and TB run remarkably well on low payrolls, until their way of running their teams is no longer the exception.)

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  5. urchman says:

    Interesting to look at Mariners’ relative payroll. They were in the top 10 in the 2005-2007 timeframe and now in the bottom 10. I know they’ve sucked for most of the past decade and attendance has declined, but part of that is probably because they haven’t kept pace with other large market teams. And yes, the M’s do have a large market – most of Oregon and Idaho, and all of Washington, Alaska, and western Canada (for what that’s worth).

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    • Breadbaker says:

      Not a whole lot of people in that market. And the Western Canada part is highly theoretical. I think if you asked most Vancouverites what team they root for they’d tell you it’s the Blue Jays.

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  6. Anthony says:

    I really wish the Mets’ chart included Bobby Bonilla’s annuity.

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  7. Dave (UK) says:

    Check out the 2016 Angels. $106m owed to 5 players.

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  8. ChrisGleckler79 says:

    Excellent article. One could go a step further and calculate dollars /(post season appearance) as perhaps an indicator of overall organizational efficiency. Post season appearance would simply be making it into the post season and not overall playoff games appeared that year.

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  9. Canucklesndwch says:

    Also amusing – for the 2013 Dodgers, waaaayyy up near the top is a $2M contract for “Skip Schumaker – P”

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  10. tomhaywood says:

    Makes you realise how horrible the A-Rod contract is!!

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    • Baltar says:

      The Yanks had their chance when A-Rod opted out of his original contract. They should have called his bluff and not offered. But the Yanks’ pride wouldn’t let them do that. Now he’s saved them with his suspension.

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